Monthly Archives: October 2014

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Boys Golf

By Jack McGann


golf corey vondraAs the boys golf team takes a swing at yet another exciting season, Head Coach Terry Tiesman believes that the group of young men could get out of regionals and move onto sectionals.

“We have a great group of seniors coming back and we also have good experience,” Tiesman said. “In most team sports, the older players on the team are the ones that should lead by example. The seniors understand that and let the younger players know how to improve.”

Junior Corey Vondra says that as one of the younger players on the team he hopes to contribute. “I am looking forward to improving my scores from last season [and] helping the team meet our goals.”

The group practices to reach their full potential going into the state tournament.

Girls Golf

By Jack McGann


The close-knit group of girl golfers plan on taking on the 2014 -2015 season with a full head of steam. Head coach Jeff Bryant says he looks forward to having a big season with the group.

golf laura funk 1“I expect that we will definitely be better at the end of the season than at the beginning, improvement is the key to success,” Bryant said, “Of course, the greatest gains are usually made during the off-season.”

The team is no stranger to improving every day, “They have a great ability to mix fun and hard work,” Bryant said.

Junior Laura Funk says that although the season is coming to an end, she’s still enjoying her time spent with the team and improving her game.

“We have a couple of matches left and I can’t wait to play in them and hang out with the team,” Funk said.

Boys Cross Country

By Wes Davenport

Managing Editor

Jogging at a constant pace towards the goal of another conference championship, Head Cross Country Coach Brian Caldwell believes the team is one of the deepest that DGS has had in years. After the team recovers from early nagging injuries, Caldwell believes that there are 12 to 15 people who will compete for one of the seven Varsity runner spots by the end of the year.

Max O’Meara, a varsity runner, aims to end the team’s recent absence in the State meet.

“It has been a really long time since the Boys Cross Country team has gone to the State meet. I’m looking forward to ending the drought,” O’Meara said.

With the depth and vaulted confidence from a share of last year’s conference title, the DGS Cross Country team is pushing for the gold conference title.

Girls Cross Country

By Wes Davenport

Managing Editor

Striding into the record books with consecutive conference titles leading to three IHSA state meet appearances, The DGS Girls Cross Country team aims to continue its unheralded streak. Douglas Plunkett, the Head Varsity Coach, believes a fourth title is not out of the question for this experienced team.

“We expect to win our 16th straight WSC Gold conference title and advance to the IHSA State meet for the fourth year in a row,” Plunkett said.

But the depth and experience of the team is not the only motivational factor. As junior runner Michaela Hackbarth prepares for the intense training regimen, the prospect of working hard with teammates excites her.

“I am super excited to train every day with such amazing girls and watch everyone get better. I’m excited to be able to test myself both physically and mentally and to have the opportunity to push myself to be the best I can be by the end of the year,” Hackbarth said.

Boys Soccer

By Wes Davenport

Managing Editor

The FIFA World Cup ended, but DGS Soccer is still in the prime of its season. Sitting at 6-0-2, ranking 10th in state, the push to playoffs is on. With a team that has a healthy number of players at nearly all positions and has aspirations to be in top shape for the playoffs.

Jonathan Stapleton, The Head Soccer Coach, looks to push the team in order to combat their biggest weakness: themselves.

soccer 1goodSamuel Dumford, junior goalkeeper, expresses his opinion on the expectations of the team this season.

“I think we can go deep into the tournament this year,” Dumford said.

If the team can overcome themselves, expect to see a team that loves to play and is a cohesive unit to make a run in the State tournament.

Varsity Football

By Jack McGann


With a season opener against Benet, the team was not able to produce enough offensively to get the ever so important win. However, Head Varsity Coach Mark Molinari still believes the team has a chance to be successful this season.

“We can still be a playoff qualifier. Right now we are focusing on trying to win each game we play one week at a time. All hope is not lost.” Molinari said.

Many coaches have said before, “offense wins games, and defense wins championships.” This applies to the DGS Varsity football team.

“Our defense is going to be the majority of our strengths, our special teams has been pretty good as well.” Molinari said, “We just need to tighten up on some areas that have not been so good, which is offense.”

Girls Tennis

By Wes Davenport

Managing Editor

Tennis 2With line judges aside, the DGS tennis team is mid-season and swinging for the conference title.

“High energy, professionalism and energized play,” are the values that Peter Freischlag, the Head Tennis Coach, looks to instill within his team. With two freshmen on the varsity roster, youth is not a weakness for this team.

“The greatest weakness for this team is the lack of off season match play,” Freischlag said.

Although the team doesn’t play nearly as much as Freischlag hopes for each off-season, the team is still a competitive group at nearly all of the matches so far; sprinting out of the gates to an undefeated record in Conference.

Freshman Varsity player Anna Buie believes the team can compete for the title at sectionals. She also looks forward to working at doubles matches with her sister, who is her doubles partner.

With all but one quarter of the season left, the DGS tennis team hopes to complete yet another season as the conference’s best team.

Girls Volleyball

By Wes Davenport

Managing Editor

The DGS Girls Volleyball team is pushing to end the season on a high note. Kaitlyn Vondra, senior outside hitter, believes that they can make it to the state playoffs.

“[I’m definitely looking forward to the] playoffs because it’s my senior year and [my] last year and I just want to play as well as the whole team can play,” Vondra said.

According to Head Varsity Coach Trisha Kurth, her hopes are set equal to her players and she is looking to support her team.

“My expectations are theirs. They have to want to reach their goals and put in the hard work to reach them,” Kurth said.


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Junior Aimee Dragas dives off of a block at a DGS Varsity girls swim meet against Leyden on Oct. 2, 2014.
Photo by Joe Stellato

In early November of 2013, one girl stood alone as the only member of the Varsity girls swim team to place first in sectionals and who would continue on to represent DGS at the State competition. She stood, accomplished, on two prosthetic legs.
Now, almost a year later, junior Aimee Dragas returns to the team preparing to blow her competitors out of the water.
According to Dragas, she was born missing both of her tibias — also known as shinbones — and was forced to have her legs amputated at six months old. She also was born with a deformity in her hands describing them as being “cupped together like mittens,” and had to have them separated. Over the course of her life, she has had 10 surgeries performed on both of her hands and legs, and she is expected to experience more in the future.
Dragas describes the feeling of her transition into high school with such a condition.
“I had to overcome the fear of being the only person on the team who was a little different, physically. I’ve always lived with this obstacle, but I came from a small middle/elementary school, so I was pretty nervous about being in such a big school with a whole new group of people,” Dragas said. “I had to overcome the fear of letting my situation hold me back because of what people thought or said.”
Despite what some would describe as a setback, her confidence in her athletic ability is present and prominent. Dragas enters into her third season with high expectations from — not only her coach and teammates — but also herself.
“I feel like I swim pretty well despite my disability. My mentality while swimming is to learn my limits by pushing them; I try to push myself every day,” Dragas said.
Varsity girls swim coach Paul Krick explained the experience of coaching an athlete, who, despite her lack of legs, has never lacked perseverance.
“It’s been difficult on the aspect of trying to coach her without the normal body parts that most swimmers have, so learning how to teach her how to swim without these things has been a challenge, but she’s a quick learner, and she’s always giving feedback on what works and what doesn’t work,” Krick said.
Entering into her first year at DGS, Dragas decided to join the girls swim team. She started her high school career as a diver until halfway through her sophomore season, Krick and Dragas came to a consensus to have her pursue swimming.
The rewards came soon enough at State competition. Dragas had placed 2nd in the 100 free and 3rd in the 50 free for the IHSA State Athletes with Physical Disabilities competition.
Dragas describes what inspires her to strive for such accolades and her aspirations on how people perceive her.
“I think my motivation to keep swimming is myself. I want to be known for my accomplishments, and not just the everyday ones. I think that being an inspiration for other people is also a motivation because you always want to be the best you can be, and when you can help someone else do their best, then that’s the best feeling in the world,” Dragas said.
Her father, Dave Dragas, elaborated on how her achievements have affected his daughter as a product of her efforts.
“I think she’s worked hard to get where she is. Her accomplishments have helped her become a more motivated athlete and to push herself forward,” Dave Dragas said. “She has adopted new leadership qualities, a sense of dedication and willingness of working hard for what she wants to achieve and to set high goals.”
As a junior, Aimee Dragas is looked upon as a role model by her peers and mentors–not only for her swimming–but also her character.
“I think she’s a good role model for the rest of her teammates. They look up to her as a positive person; she’s always cheering. She’s a leader by example and also by the way she does things in practice,” Krick said.
One of Aimee Dragas’ teammates, sophomore swimmer Jamie Vacek describes who Aimee is to her and her qualities as an athlete and person.
“I believe Aimee is unstoppable… she finds a way every day to get in the pool, never complain and just keep swimming,” Vacek said.
In addition to be an example to her teammates, Aimee anticipates to affect other individuals and influence people about an idea that’s beyond the pool.
“I hope I can teach people that it’s not about what people think of you; it’s about your goals and what it takes to accomplish them,” Aimee Dragas said.

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It is clear that election season is in the air when commercial after commercial is a political smear of the opponent. The T.V. is littered with clips of candidates talking about policies and promising changes that seem confusing to most teenagers.

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, this lack of interest has led to a five percent decrease in the voter turnout from 2008 to 2012. As another governor’s race approaches, students that can vote are faced with the question: Why should we care about the governor’s race between Republican candidate Bruce Rauner, and Democratic candidate Pat Quinn?

Rauner has many issues that he feels need to be addressed. According to his website, he wants to make higher education more affordable and enhance educational opportunities. In addition he has clearly stated that he has no social agenda.

The opposing candidate Quinn has also addressed some problems he would like to change.

The state government website stated that he wants to ensure everyone has access to good healthcare and improve the health of people. The Sun-Times has stated that Quinn’s plan is aimed toward raising the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10. Junior Akila Shanmugham agrees with this proposal.

“This beneficially affects the lives of many workers across the state who are often working as long as 40 hours a week with a meager annual income of $16,000, placing them well below the poverty line,” Shanmugham said.

Despite these important issues, most students still don’t feel interested in the campaigns and elections.

Laura Rodey, the AP Government and Politics teacher at DGS, stresses the importance of every election.

“This particular election between Quinn and Rauner could drastically change the course of action for Ill. government. Although these issues might not affect high school students immediately, there will be lasting effects that will be felt for years to come,” Rodey said.

To better inform the students about the elections and important issues each candidate proposes, the DGS AP Government and Politics classes conduct mock elections throughout the school. Two students are chosen to each represent the Republican and the Democratic candidate.

Robyn Fardy, the AP Government and Politics teacher says that this gives students the chance to experience what a real election is like.
“We want to give students the opportunity to experience what it might be like to participate in a real political campaign,” Fardy said. “Our goal is for students to figure out what issues to focus on, how to connect with voters and how to work as a campaign team towards a common goal.”

For the upcoming elections, senior Zachary Kennedy has been nominated to represent Quinn and senior Kevin Panthaplackel as Rauner.

Although there’s still time before the debates things have already begun heating up.

Both candidates have different outlooks on which policies are most important to work on in the upcoming years.

Rauner candidate Panthaplackel says that education reform is the most important policy to work on. He argues that education reform needs to focus more on the teachers.

“Education is the foundation of society, and we have to ensure that the teachers who provide this invaluable asset are qualified, promoted, and receive adequate funding to bring technology and innovation into the classroom,” Panthaplackel said.

However, Kennedy has taken a different stance on important policies, arguing that social and health care issues are crucial to improve.

“If I am elected governor [of the mock election], my immediate focus will go to healthcare and women’s/LGBT rights. Healthcare is a basic human right and my goal is to make it affordable so everyone can have access to it. And on the subject of women, I will seek to end workplace discrimination against pregnant women, as well as promote a pro-choice philosophy,” Kennedy said.

The two students will be going head to head during the mock debates on Oct. 27.

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This year the city of Downers Grove recognizes the 50th anniversary of DGS. Since the opening in 1964, the school has evolved in multiple aspects. While there are many celebrations taking place throughout the year, the majority of students know very little about the history of their school.


It is well known that parents like to use the line “Well, back in my day…” to start up a good lecture, but how different are teenagers now than they were 5_0 years ago? It seems that high schoolers today are under more pressure than ever, juggling school, work, sports and activities.

The feeling of cramming before a math test and staying up until unreasonable hours of the morning to finish a paper is something most students have experienced. The pressure to do well seems to be coming in from all around; it’s being felt from teachers, parents and even peers. Throughout time, it seems that the expectations for teenagers has grown exponentially.

DGS Associate Principal Vince Walsh-Rock says that since his freshman year at DGS in 1979, the attitude of the average student has become much more involved.

“Students now overall are much more engaged in their high school experience,” Walsh-Rock said. “Academically, the expectations have definitely increased.”

The homecoming game festivities used to include much more violent ways of showing school spirit.

“We used to have a bonfire at homecoming…whomever we were playing in the homecoming game, they would make a model of it…and we would burn it at the bonfire,” Walsh-Rock said.

Past DGS students also liked to push the limits of fashion, and the limits of the dress code. In the early years, some of the biggest fashion trends included bell bottoms, paisley prints, paper mache earrings and the controversial mini skirt.

DGS has transformed in many obvious ways  since the school was  founded. From the workload to the changing homecoming rituals, the past 50 years have made a definite difference in the lives of DGS students.


In the past five decades, teachers at DGS have evolved just as much as the students. Although it may not seem too far in the past, students and faculty at DGS have changed in many ways. From academic standards to student-teacher interaction, what seems normal now wasn’t always the case.

Craig Roselieb, DGS band Director, has been a teacher at DGS for 24 years. He attended DGS from 1975-1979 and thinks the overall vibe that the teachers give off has changed the learning environment for the better.

“Students and faculty have changed immensely,” Roselieb said. “I’m certainly glad we don’t have smoking in the building anymore…and the addition of the Athletic/Activity Code has changed the environment to make it more socially appropriate to be safe and have fun without the use of illegal substances.”

Many rules have changed for the staff, to keep the learning environment safer and more efficient for students to focus on school work. Senior Nathan Robinson feels the use of technology has changed the way students learn for the better.

“The most significant change I think has been with the increased use of technology in the classroom and the hallways,” Robinson said. “Everyone at South is doing an assignment posted on Google or turning one in and they have their phones out during the passing period either texting or listening to music.”

Not only have staff regulations changed, but the teachers themselves are different than they were in the past. Teachers in today’s educational setting have much more one-on-one connections with students. They emphasize that they are there for students to come to them with questions and to support them through their academic goals and achievements.

“Gone are the days of awkward social experiences and hallway intimidation, and in are well connected thoughtful exchanges between students and between faculty and students,” Roselieb said. “Students in today’s school environment have learned to care for each other much better, and I really admire the way teenagers these days are so much more personally and socially adjusted from when I was in school.”


DGS’s appearance years has changed immensely from the time it was first opened in 1964 to now. The overall structure of the building, the modernization and the way it affects the learning environment are some of the ways the physical appearance has evolved.

Jim Meizner, Fine Arts Department Computer Aide and the Voice of the Mustangs, has been a teacher at DGS since the fall of 1965. He has seen the structure of the building change from when it was just two hallways and a gym to now, a four hallway and multiple large gym like areas.

“One of the most recent additions is the expansion of the West Events Entrance…along with the horse,” Meizner said. “The area where student commons and cafeteria area was expanded, which was really nice [for the students].”

The modernization of DGS has come about with the recent burst of new technology added to the school. It has made it easier for the students to keep up with school work and stay on top of their grades.

Science teacher Terry Totz has been working at DGS since 1982, and he feels that one of the most welcomed changes to the school is the increased use of technology.

“The factor that has changed the most here at [DGS] is the addition of technology,” Totz said. “With the advent of computers and the internet there is so much information, and it’s so much more up to date…Communication is much easier in general.”

For students, the building and the way it’s designed has an advantage that most students don’t see. While many students like to think certain aspects of the school could be changed, they are mostly small things that could make the school a better place.

Senior Clara McIntyre feels that something as miniscule as a new window treatment could liven the school and give it a new, happier feeling.

“I would want to change the window treatment and the window structures…they are ugly and it kind of gives [the school] a prison [feeling]..and we feel like we’re locked it,” McIntyre said.

As time goes on, DGS will undoubtedly continue to stride for excellence. Making sure the school and its students and faculty get what they deserve is a high priority for the district.

“I would say for the most part, the district has done a nice job in making additions and renovations to accommodate students. They at least have some areas of future planning like a one, five and 10 year plan. Most of those are…renovating so that they’re more compatible, Meizner said. “Overall in my opinion…its been good.”

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Football brings to mind things like strength and strong will, but this isn’t the case with Powder Puff football.  The old-fashioned name Powder Puff misrepresents girls’ athletic capabilities instead of giving them the recognition they deserve.

Cartoon by Jamilla Jackson

Cartoon by Jamilla Jackson

Powder Puff football was originally created when women didn’t have many opportunities in athletics, according to Though it is unclear when the first Powder Puff game was played, there is evidence of games dating back to 1931.

Instead of moving forward to gain more respect for female athletes, we have allowed a demeaning name with negative connotations to hold them back. The term Powder Puff, named after the cosmetic face powder applicator, not only has sexist undertones, but it also makes a joke out of girls’ abilities to play sports.

In 2012 and 2013, the name was changed from Powder Puff to Ladies Football League (LFL).  According to Student Activities Director John Aldworth Powder Puff participants voted to bring back the name Powder Puff in 2014.

“All the participants said ‘the LFL is silly. It’s Powder Puff, let’s call it Powder Puff,’” Aldworth said.

Although change is usually seen as progressive, this change set female athletes back.

Many people seem to be unaware of the negative connotations a name can send out. The term Powder Puff implies weakness and suggests that the girls who participate are more interested in looks than athletics.

Still, many avoid the situation, leaving the choice up to the participants. Junior Daniel Crudele says that the decision about the name should be completely up to the team.

“If it was chosen by the people who are normally on the team, then if that’s what they want, it’s a good name,” Crudele said.

However, many people seem to be unaware of the condescending messages that the name Powder Puff radiates.

Cheer and Powder Puff coach Lauren McSweeney explains that Powder Puff is perceived differently around the school than other sports.

“It’s more seen as a fun kind of joke than a real sport…a school spirit activity,” says Coach McSweeney.

Powder Puff is treated as a parody instead of an activity for committed athletes, something that the name strongly reinforces.

It’s time to realize that the outdated name Powder Puff is no longer acceptable to describe an activity here at DGS. We should be displaying our school’s athletes with pride instead of allowing an antiquated term to falsely represent them.

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Michael Mendoza

This year DGS started a new tradition that will help recognize many accomplished alumni for years to come. The Distinguished Alumni Program started last year when DGS solicited nominations from various people in the community, staff members and former alumni. The Induction Ceremony for it was held on Thursday, September 25 at 5:00 p.m.

The six alumni that were selected through over 50 nominations were Captain Daniel L. Cheever, Derek Lloyd Choi-Lundberg, Elaine Fuchs, Michael Mendoza, Katrina J. Ruscic and Captain Kent A. Paro. These six have each reached success through different careers including military action, education and medicine. They were recognized as additions to the new wall by the library.

Junior, Connor Keegan expressed his appreciation for the new program. 

“I think it’s very interesting how they’re looking for people who have done good in the world who graduated from here. It’s just a show of the great representation that we have as a school, and I think it’s great we can honor them,” Keegan said.

John Aldworth, the Student Activities Director at DGS, also discussed the future of The Distinguished Alumni Program.

“We’ll have nominations every year and we will probably do this every other year, so it will be a bi-annual celebration,” Aldworth said. “It’s a little more special if it doesn’t happen every year, but we want to make sure that we have a regular time frame where we add distinguished alumni to the wall.”

After the Distinguished Alumni Induction Ceremony, an honorary dinner was held at Clara’s for all of the alumni and their friends and family.

“I think it was very humbling to read and learn about all of the incredible things that our alumni have done,” Aldworth said. “I think it goes to show the excellent education students get at South and how well we prepare them to go out and do incredible things outside of high school.”

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Senior Madelynn Smith, staff member at Statesville Haunted Prison, has make-up applied and is ready to scare innocent costumers.
Photo courtesy of Madelynn Smith

Every year around Halloween, witches and ghouls gather around to scare the innocent souls who dare enter Statesville Haunted Prison. During fall, a handful of students audition for an opportunity to work behind the scenes at one of Illinois’s most prestigious haunted houses.

Cold, gruesome nights are not out of the ordinary for the workers at Statesville. Senior, Madelynn Smith, has been a part of the staff for three years now. Each day, staff members are in awe of the surprising events that occur at this house.

“…We actually had a customer who thought it would be funny to toss a smoke bomb in one of the rooms…”, Smith said.

Scaring is a tough and time consuming process. Staff often performs up to 10 hours a night. Senior, Tanner Doan, has jokingly complained about their rigorous schedule.

“There is no such thing as a ‘brief rundown’ at Statesville. Well, first we get there and we see what we will be doing for that night. Then, once you found out that, you get your costume then you get in line for makeup…Then after that it becomes like, 6:30, we go into the ‘pit’ and go over all the expectations they have of us. Then we jam out and mosh to a rock song to get our blood pumping for the night,” Doan said.

When stepping into their roles at Statesville, the actors and actresses are able to show their true thespian abilities. All of their hard work and dedication finally pays off. Each person takes on a persona that is sure to scare.

Although, many students do work at Statesville, there are several students and teachers from DGS who have attended this horrendous prison of doom.

Last year in October, DGS’s Adventure Club took a trip to this notorious prison. Catherine Jarosz, the Adventure club teacher, has a lot of things to say about the Adventure Clubs experience there.

“The best way to describe it is sensory overload. There’s music blaring at you. Also, you are always on edge because they have people coming up behind you while you’re in line trying to scare you. So, definitely if you’re a thrill seeker it’s a place to go,” Jarosz said.

Even Jarosz could tell how much work went into preparing the make-up, costumes, and sets.

For those brave enough to test their fate at this petrifying prison, Statesville opened last Thursday, Oct. 2, and ends on Halloween.