Graduation 2016 photos

Photos by Emma Jo Hirschy

Band teacher Mr. Schmidt leaving for PhD at Northwestern

By Emma Jo Hirschy, Aviator editor-in-chief

This school year is the last at De Pere for Mr. Casey Schmidt, the high school band teacher.  

After teaching for 11 years at DPHS, Schmidt plans to leave teaching and return to school at Northwestern University to receive his PhD in music with a secondary focus in music creativity. His first two years back in school will include coursework, followed by two years that will include lots of research. Schmidt also says that there is a possibility of having a fifth year in order to receive his PHD.

“I really like learning,” said Schmidt. “I want to teach other teachers how to teach, and I am really interested in teaching creatively rather than performance art. I just really have a big desire to go back to school and do a lot more learning.”

Schmidt emphasized that he hopes to teach students how they can think independently and creatively after getting his PHD.

“I want to be a policy maker that helps make that happen,” Schmidt said.

After receiving his PhD, Schmidt plans to go on to teach at a university level.


Three Redbirds sign Division 1 track letters-of-intent

By Emma Jo Hirschy, Aviator editor in chief

Three De Pere High School seniors — Sydney Otto, Shae Opichka, and Kylie Swiekatowski — signed national letters of intent for college on May 4. Each girl received a Division I scholarship for their skills in track and field.

According to Mr. Boyd, the DPHS track coach, said that the program was very proud of the accomplishments of the three seniors.

“It is very rare to have just one athlete from any program sign a Division 1 scholarship, but to have three in one year is truly very special,” Boyd said.  

Otto plans to attend the University of Nebraska.

Sydney is a tremendous multi-sport athlete and we are excited about her future at the University of Nebraska,” said Scott Cappos, a Nebraska coach.

During Otto’s junior year, she placed third in a triple jump and seventh at the WIAA Division 1 state meet. Also, at 18 feet and 9.5 inches, Otto hold the school’s record for long jump. For triple jump she holds the record at 39-1.5 and 37-10.5 for shot put.  She placed first at the USATF National Junior Olympic track and Field Championships for the javelin throw last summer.

“When I received those letters from the college, it made me feel pretty special,” Otto said. “It also encourages me to keep getting better during the off seasons.”

Swiekatowski placed third in 2013, first in 2014, and second in 2015 for pole vault at state. She is also a three-time defending champion for the Fox River Classic Conference. At 13 feet, Swiekatowski holds the school record for pole vault.

“We have a proud tradition of excellence in the pole vault and Kylie will help us fill the void after graduating two great seniors that have won conference titles,” said Jim Bevan, a track and field coach at Rice.

“It’s a big relief to finally have put my name on the paper because I put in so much work for this,” said Kylie.

Opichka will be attending Illinois State.

“It was so hectic and I was so overwhelmed when I received the offer. There were all these offers and I was like, ‘which one do I go to?’” said Opichka.  “I was deciding between a couple, but once I was there and visited, it felt like home.”

“Shae was my top recruit from the very beginning and later on I was able to surround her with the right pieces to this team,” said Wood, a Track and Field coach at Illinois State.

Boyd also emphasized that the the girls were one of the big reasons the DPHS track team finished 6th place at state last year.

“Their contributions to the program are well documented but it is their commitment and leadership to track and field that has been second to none,” he said. “Illinois State, Rice and Nebraska are getting outstanding track athletes and I know they will represent De Pere well.”


De Pere dedicates new baseball field

Photos by Daniel Reich

The De Pere district dedicated Aurora Bay Care Field in a special pregame ceremony before the varsity baseball game on April 22.

Trio of retiring teachers reflect upon years in De Pere district

By Emma Hirschy, Aviator editor-in-chief

Teachers are one of the last training grounds for kids, especially when they are high schoolers. One of the biggest things students are unaware of are the numerous sacrifices their teachers make for them.

This year, De Pere High School will be losing three of its finest teachers. Mrs. Reiter, Mrs. Stewart, and Mrs. VandenBergh will be starting a new era in their lives  at the end of this school year. They answered a few questions from the Crimson Aviator.

What subject do you teach?

Reiter: I am a special education teacher, and spend most of my day co-teaching algebra, with one co-taught Intensive Reading course.

Stewart: I am an art teacher here but over the years I have probably mostly done black and white photography, ceramics, and the drawing and painting classes. There is also AP Art History.

VandenBergh: I teach physical education and Driver’s ed. I also used to teach health.

How long have you been teaching?

Reiter: I began teaching in 1982.

Stewart: I started in Houston in the fall of 1988 and here in the fall of 1990.

VandenBergh: Since 1981.

Is DPHS the only school you have taught at? If not, where else?

Reiter: I started out as the only special ed teacher in Argyle, Wisconsin. After four years I moved to DePere, where I taught at DPMS for 26 years. I moved to the high school three years ago.

Stewart: I was at Missouri City Middle School, which was a suburb of Houston, Texas.

VandenBergh: For physical education, yes. I did start at Green Bay East for driver’s ed in the summer when I got out of college.

What do you like most about teaching?

Reiter: I like getting to know my students as people, not just how they function in the curriculum I’m teaching.

Stewart: The relationships with students.

VandenBergh: I am sure it is the kids. I like when you come as freshmen and leave as seniors. Oh my, it is like a transformation. It is awesome!

What is one of the biggest differences from teaching nowadays compared to when you first started?

Reiter: When I began teaching in special education, we didn’t go into regular education classrooms; instead, the kids came to us. Now we are in the regular ed classroom all day, making accommodations and modifications to support our special ed population and others in need of extra supports. The paperwork and expectations for those of us who teach students with disabilities have nearly tripled since I began teaching nearly 35 years ago. I usually spend one day of every weekend playing catch-up on paperwork that can’t be completed during my 6:15-4:30 days spent here.

Stewart: Technology has made a huge difference in both good ways and bad.

VandenBergh: We had a smoking zone for kids. It was an area with big, red paint and that was where students could go and smoke. It was right outside when they did the from commons. Well, we had no cellphone, very few computers, so just think about it. I think they could be 16 and smoke.

What will you miss the most about teaching when you retire?

Reiter: I’ll miss the people. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some awesome students, staff, and parents.

Stewart: Talking to students. Yeah, I teach art and I love art, but even more so than that it is talking to students

VandenBergh: I think kids make older people younger. Someone my age might not know what all of the things you guys know, with the cute apps. So if you are not around kids that much, that technology part you might not know. One time I had my phone, and I had to give it to the student and I said to them, “Can you tell me how to do this, this, and this?” They could teach me things.

How do you feel about retiring?

Reiter: I have mixed emotions because I know I’ll miss this, but I’m looking forward to moving into the next phase of my life.

Stewart: I don’t even like to say I am retiring because I am probably going to have some other type of job. I feel like I am just stopping teaching now and maybe going to do something else at some point. I have been here long enough, so I am able not to rush into the next thing.

VandenBergh: I am excited to do something different because I still want to work.

What do you plan on doing after retiring?

Reiter: My mom is in her twilight years, so being retired means that I can spend more time with her. My husband is also retiring, so we hope to do a little travelling and cross some items off our “bucket lists.”

Stewart: I am not sure. When I am having an AP class like I do this year, I am so busy. I really haven’t thought a lot about what is next. This summer, I think I will just feel like a teacher who’s on summer vacation. Next fall when everyone goes back to school, that is when I will really need to start thinking about what is the next phase. I love making art and I wouldn’t mind selling it.

VandenBergh: I don’t know what that looks like yet. When I was in college I used to waitress and bartend. There is a little part of me that wants to work at Hagemeister or something like that. I like working with people. I enjoy being a part of a team.



Shave for Sara event a hair-raising success

Jen.Ben Group1 Noah A Ben Roger

Photos by Katie Shonkwiler, other yearbook staff

De Pere High School raised more than $10,000 to support teacher Sara Melgar, who is battling cancer, through a hair-shaving event Tuesday, April 19, in the gymnasium.


DPHS social studies teachers encourage kids to get knowledge, vote

By Emma Jo Hirschy, Aviator editor-in-chief

On April 5, Wisconsin held its primaries. While most kids in high school are not eligible to vote, a large number of the seniors were finally able to use their right to vote and choose who they thought should be the presidential nominee.

“I encouraged everyone to vote,” said Mr. Soquet, a De Pere High School social studies teacher. “This was an odd primary day because it was held over spring break, but I know a lot of teachers voted prior to coming to school and wore the ‘I voted’ sticker. So students had a visual sign.”

Mrs. Schneider, a DPHS political science teacher,  said that the students in the political science class watched presidential debates from both political parties. The students were able to learn and react to the debates as well, Mrs. Schneider said.

“We regularly had discussions about the various candidates, their platforms domestically and in terms of foreign policies,” she said.

According to  Mrs. Schneider, her main goal was to have her students self identify as a Republican, Democrat, or Independent to see how that would play into how they vote, rather than having their beliefs influenced by other people.

From a recent survey the Crimson Aviator sent out to all seniors, 40 out of the 57 responses said that they voted (70 percent overall). Students also were able to explain why they voted, anonymously.

  • “I voted because when the establishment steals the election, the popular vote will reflect the will of the people and show the people who should actually be our president.”
  • “Because if you don’t take any effort to fix what you think is wrong in government, you can’t complain about it later.”
  • “We are free to select who we personally believe is fit to run our country. A lot of people in the world don’t have this freedom.”
  • “It’s a both a right and a civil duty, and I want to reserve my right to say, “Well, I didn’t vote for him/her.”
  • “As an American citizen, it is my obligation to vote for our country’s leader.”
  • “I am really into politics and I think that it’s important to vote because we have the right.”

On the other hand, 7 out of the 57 responses (12 percent overall) claimed to not have voted. The other 10 respondents said that they were not old enough to participate in the Wisconsin’s primaries (17 percent overall).

“I think right now Americans, young and old, are frustrated with the status quo in politics,” Mrs. Schneider said. “ A lot of people believe that politicians are wrapped up with money and influence in both parties that are outside of the main people that they represent. Just even talking to some of the kids that were 18, that were not in my political science, a lot of them said they didn’t know who they would vote for. So if they didn’t know much about the candidates or the issues, sometimes it’s hard to make that decision, so we just stay home.”

Mrs. Schneider also said that she thinks that anyone eligible to vote, should.

“One of the great things about America is that we always have freedom of choice,” she said. “I would encourage them that a democracy is only as strong as its citizens. Since the beginning of our country, one of the things the founding fathers believed in was civic virtue. That is that people will be well educated, enough to care about the country and vote intelligently. If we lose that, to me I think have a chance to lose the democracy.”

Mrs. Schneider also emphasized that social studies classes need to give students the opportunity to research major public policy issues and to figure out how they stand on the issues.

“We are really the last training ground for everybody before they got out into the world,” she said.