People work out during a water aerobics class at the Lakota family YMCA in Liberty Township. The operators of this Y have proposed to build another YMCA in the heart of West Chester. Photo by Leigh Taylor.
To let West Chester and Liberty Township residents catch up with the news that they need to know, WestChesterBuzz.com will list and link to all of last week’s top local stories every Monday.
YMCA gets through zoning commission – The West Chester Zoning Commission unanimously approved a major zoning change Monday night that could lead to the development of a $12 million YMCA in the heart of West Chester. Home to more than 60,000 residents, Ohio’s largest township has never had a YMCA or recreation center and while the zoning change has been approved by the zoning commission it will be years before any ground breaking.
Lakota teacher suspended – A Lakota West High School math teacher’s license has been suspended for “inappropriate” communications with students, including exchanging recollections of sexual experiences and orientation. But the teacher, George C. Merk, will return to the classroom at the start of the school year next month, Michael D. Clark reported last week.
User fee coming to Liberty Center – In what could be a first in Ohio, shoppers at the proposed $300-million Liberty Center mega-retail project in Butler County are expected to pay a half-percent more for purchases to help fund roads, sewers and other public improvements at the development. Liberty Township officials approved the creation of a community authority last Tuesday night that would collect the additional fee, with the intention of approving the increase later.
Judges select the best of Homearama – Dan Dressman, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati, said this year’s showcase is attracting good crowds. He expects to draw roughly 300,000 visitors at the event that kicked off last Saturday and runs through July 28. There is still plenty of time to visit the event, but that doesn’t mean it is too early to pass out some awards. This week, a group of independent industry judges from around the state selected their winners.
Local students earn UC’s top scholarship – Recent Lakota East graduate Jeffrey Back and recent Ursuline graduate Kaitlin Burnam, both of West Chester, received The University of Cincinnati’s highest scholarship award — a four-year, $92,000 Cincinnatus Presidential scholarship to pay for tuition, room and board, books and fees. The prestigious scholarship competition selects students on the basic of academic achievement, leadership and commitment to community service.
Recent Lakota East graduate Jeffrey Back and recent Ursuline graduate Kaitlin Burnam, both of West Chester, received The University of Cincinnati’s highest scholarship award — a four-year, $92,000 Cincinnatus Presidential scholarship to pay for tuition, room and board, books and fees.
Lakota East graduate Jeff Back. Photo provided.
The prestigious scholarship competition selects students on the basic of academic achievement, leadership and commitment to community service. Each awarded scholar must perform 30 hours of community service each year.
Back, a National Merit Finalist, will be majoring in industrial design at UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP).
“I have wanted to study industrial design since the eighth grade,” Back said. “I’m fascinated by the combination of creative thinking and problem-solving that makes up industrial design.”
Ursuline graduate Kaitlin Burnam. Provided.
Back’s high school activities included serving as editor-in-chief and sports editor for Spark, Lakota East’s student-generated news magazine. He also served as captain of his school’s cross country team and was a member of Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, National Honor Society, his school’s Latin Club and the Student Athlete Leadership Team. He was also involved in Relay For Life to benefit the American Cancer Society; Special Olympics and volunteering at St. Rita’s Haunted House, as well as serving through his church.
Burnam, a National Merit Commended student, will be majoring in computer engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.
“I’m fascinated by modern technology and the way it develops so rapidly, and I want to find ways to take advantage of that growth,” Burnam said. “Specifically, my goal is to create tools that will help people with special needs, especially autism, have greater communication capabilities.”
Burnam was a member of her high school competitive Academic Team and chemistry club and also played on four different hockey teams during high school. Her service activities include judging a third-grade writing contest at Bethany School in Glendale that her Girl Scout troop began in 2009. She has also participated in fundraisers to research autism, as well as the Relay For Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
To let West Chester and Liberty Township residents catch up with the news that they need to know, WestChesterBuzz.com will list and link to all of last week’s top local stories every Monday. This week, we have decided to list all the top stories from May.
New Women’s Center – UC Health recently opened a new 26,000-square-foot Women’s Center on the campus of West Chester Hospital. The center, which officially opened May 18, offers a one-stop-shop health package for women.
Prank gone good – The senior prank typically is not done for a good cause, but that is what happened at Lakota East High School May 24. Seniors surprised their classmates, teachers and administrators that morning with a school pride message on Main Street, which is the school’s main hallway, made entirely out of canned goods. The 2,013 cans will now be donated to the survivors of the tornado that ripped through parts of Oklahoma City and its suburbs, as well as to Reach Out Lakota, a nonprofit that provides food, clothing and necessities to needy Butler County residents.
Liberty Center adds dining-theater complex – Weeks after Steiner + Associates delivered Dillard’s as its anchor tenant for Butler County’s largest proposed retail project, the developer of Liberty Center signed Cobb Theatres’ CineBistro, which will offer fine dining and drinks in six of its 16 theaters.
Spark releases 150th issue – Logan Aimone, executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association, admits that he has never heard of a 160-page student publication. But that’s exactly what 140 Lakota East High School journalism students were feverishly working on – the 150th issue of Spark Magazine, which was printed and released May 30.
Lakota school district to bring back some busing – Lakota is bringing back busing. Kind of. After moving to state minimum transportation two years ago, the school district announced May 30 that it will provide busing to all kindergarten and first grade students, beginning the 2013-2014 school year. Chris Passarge, the school district’s chief operations officer, said that the service can be provided at no additional cost.
OL Jarrett LaRubbio commits to UK – Lakota East junior offensive lineman Jarrett LaRubbio said the recruiting process was getting hectic lately but he knew the University of Kentucky was at the top of his list. On May 25, LaRubbio verbally committed to UK on his unofficial visit.
IED found near ‘haunted’ bridge – There was a scare near the Screaming Bridge on Maud Hughes Road in Liberty Township when police discovered an explosive device. Deputies and the bomb squad from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Liberty Township Fire and EMS personnel, were called out to the scene around noon May 28. The Screaming Bridge, which is between Princeton and Milikin roads, is believed by some to be haunted.
Lip dub goes viral - Lakota East High School has already raised awareness and thousands of dollars for the Center for Spina Bifida Care at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, but that could only the be beginning as the school hopes its “lip dub” video goes viral and attracts the attention of Ellen DeGeneres. The video already has more than 84,000 views after being posted on YouTube a few weeks ago.
Logan Aimone, executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association, admits that he has never heard of a 160-page student publication.
Lakota East High School journalism students senior Nugeen Aftab and senior Emily Chao work on the 150th issue of the student-produced Spark Magazine. The issue is expected to be released May 30. Photo taken by Adam Kiefaber.
But that’s exactly what 140 Lakota East High School journalism students are feverishly working on – the 150th issue of Spark Magazine, which will be printed and released Thursday.
“Its format is a little unconventional compared to other student news media,” Aimone said.
“A lot of schools have a high school version of their city newspaper, but I think the Spark takes its inspiration from the best of the weekly news magazines. There are not many other school magazines that are doing it as thoroughly as the Spark.”
Aimone’s organization, based in Minneapolis, provides journalism education services to students and teachers in the United States and other countries. It inducted Spark into its National Publication Hall of Fame in 2010. The NPSA, since 1997, has also awarded the magazine with 10 Pacemakers, which is presented to the top student publications in the nation.
“It is definitely in the very top tier of student-produced magazines in the country,” Aimone said. “The kind of comprehensive coverage they do in each issue is really sophisticated, in-depth and interesting – and I think that is what sets the Spark apart. It is also what has earned the staff many, many awards.’’
Lakota East seniors and editor in chiefs of Spark Magazine Sophia Li and Natasha Rausch work on the magazine’s 150 issue. Photo by Adam Kiefaber.
Those other awards include six consecutive Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown awards, which are given to the top student publications in the nation. In addition, Spark has been ranked in the top 10 nationally by the Journalism Education Association 21 times and has been honored by the Ohio Scholastic Media Association as one of the state’s best publications 20 times.
To earn those honors, current and former students of the program have spent hours upon hours of their own time producing Spark. Now, the student-produced and student-funded magazine is working on its biggest project ever – its 150th issue.
“Most people, who aren’t in Spark, clear out of school at 2:39 (p.m.), immediately after the final bell rings,” junior Angela Ferguson said. “But every day after school and on the weekends this hallway (outside of the journalism classrooms) is absolutely packed.”
While completing last month’s 88-page issue and working on the upcoming 160-page issue, the magazine’s co-editor and chief, Jeff Back, decided to track how many hours he spent on the two projects. Back, a senior, determined that he spent up to 70 hours a week of his free time, in the afternoon and on the weekends, making sure the magazine will be ready for print.
Lakota East senior and editor in chief of Spark Magazine Natasha Rausch looks over the layout of Spark Magazine. Photo by Adam Kiefaber.
“The grunt work has been more than I expected,” Back said. “Over spring break, I took home all 149 issues and scanned the covers. That was seven hours just on that. The amount of the work that has been put into it, organizing and getting everything from the past 21 years has been pretty phenomenal.”
The 160-page issue, which is about twice the size of a typical issue, will chronicle major events that have occurred at Lakota East and in the community since Spark released its first issue, Dec. 18, 1992. It will also include follow-up stories from past years.
“It is a huge project because they have so many people researching every issue and every year to find the most compelling story that we have had,” said Dean Hume, Spark adviser and Lakota East journalism teacher. “It is an organizational nightmare, yet they have done it.”
In addition to writing copy, designing graphics, producing online videos and laying out pages, Lakota East’s journalism students are also responsible for funding the entire production of the magazine through subscription sales and advertisements, without help from the school district.
Typically, each monthly issue of Spark costs between $4,500 to $4,800 to print. The 150th issue will cost close to $11,000 to produce roughly 850 copies for subscribers, as well as an additional 100 single copies that will be available to purchase through Spark staff for $10.
Adviser: Dean Hume, has led the program since it began in 1992
Staff: 140, including 37 editors
First issue: Dec. 18, 1992
History: When Lakota split into two high schools in 1997, seniors were able to pick what school they wanted to attend; 33 of the 35 seniors who were in the program followed Hume to Lakota East.
Publishes: Seven monthly issues on a $35,000 budget
Cost: Subscription costs average $20 (discounts to students and teachers)
Awards: 14 consecutive All-American ranks by the NSPA, 10 Pacemakers by NSPA, 12 consecutive Gallup awards from Quill and School, 21 times ranked in top-ten nationally by the JEA, and 20 times given top Ohio honors by the OSMA
Lakota East senior Kaitlin Lange was named 2013 Ohio Journalism Education Association Journalist of the Year at the annual Ohio Scholastic Media Association state conference last week at Kent State University. Lange is the managing editor and a three-year staff member of Spark Magazine, an award-winning publication produced by high school students.
Kaitlin Lange. Provided.
Lange is the sixth Spark journalist to receive the honor since 1998. Previous winners include Melissa Harris, Sara Thomas, Matt Faig, Betsy Brown and Sarah Massey.
In addition to the state honor, Lange is also entered in the JEA national Journalist of The Year competition in San Francisco in late April. There, Lange will be going up against seniors from 35 states. If she wins, she would receive a $5,000 national prize in addition to her $500 state award.
In this year’s OSMA state contests, Lange earned the only superior in first-person narrative, was part of in-depth teams that earned a superior and an excellent, had an honorable mention entry in news feature, plus a first place on the LEHS Spark broadcast team in the day-of video story competition.
“Covering all those school board meetings paid off for Kaitlin,” said Dean Hume, who serves as the magazine’s advisor and as a Lakota East journalism teacher. “She covers hard news and soft news with equal resolve and thoroughness.”
Lange, who is also a varsity cheerleader, is planning to study journalism at Maryland, Indiana or Ball State.
Lakota East students, who manage the award-winning Spark Magazine, celebrate their latest accomplishment winning its 10th national Pacemaker award this past November. Photo provided.
Spark Magazine, run by students at Lakota East High School for the past 21 years, won its 10th national Pacemaker award at the National Scholastic Press Association/Journalism Education Association Fall National Convention in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 15-18.
The award is also unofficially called the “High School Pulitzer Prize” and was awarded to only 27 schools nationally. Prize winners, which are determined by a panel of professional media members from the convention’s host city, recognize superior reporting, design, editing, coverage, business practices and editorial leadership.
“I’m very proud of the staff because winning a Pacemaker demonstrates a keen level of consideration to all aspects of the operation,” said Dean Hume, who serves as the magazine’s advisor and as a Lakota East Journalism teacher.
“Plus, the judges look at the entire wealth of a year’s coverage – not just one issue of the paper.”
The publication also earned a First Place Best of Show Gold Cup in the “special coverage” category for its coverage of the new Driver Texting Laws in Ohio, as well as a Third Place Best of Show Honor in the “News magazine” category. According to Hume, this is the fifth consecutive year that Spark has earned at least one Best of Show Gold Cup.
Individual staff honors went to National Write-Off winners: Jeff Back for Superior Commentary writing, Sophia Li for Superior News writing, Natasha Rausch for Excellent Feature writing, John Grasty for Excellent Sports writing, Raika Casey for Excellent Broadcast commentary and to the team of Kaitlin Lange and Kyle Culp for Excellent In-Camera Broadcast Feature Story.
Back, Mandy Ellsworth and Irfon Ibrihim also earned Honorable Mention awards for Story of the Year, Photo of the Year and Design of The Year contest entries, respectively. East graduate and former Spark package editor Drew Souders, now a freshman at the University of Virginia, received a third-place trophy in the Story of the Year contest for his sports in-depth piece.