02-03 2002-2003 The 2002-2003 school year was definitely a year of change. With renovation completed and September 11 still on everyone’s mind, Perry was definitely going to have a much different school year. Dan Nitsch remembered how Perry was after September 11, 2001. “People interacted differently with each other. Everyone was so supportive of everyone else. It was a nice change (Nitsch Personal Interview).” Although some changes would not be easy, some changes were good, like several students getting cell phones. Back in Collin Fultz’s day, cell phones were still “illegal,” and students would get written up for having them in school (Fultz Personal Interview). The fall sports proved Perry to be superb. The boys’ cross country team finished 72-55. They placed seventh at County, fifth at both Conference and Sectionals, and twelfth at Regionals. The girls golf team placed fifth at the County Invitational, sixth at County, and ninth at Conference. The girls’ and boys’ bowling teams had 7-3 and 6-4 records respectively. Key bowlers were Lindsay Milli, Chris Costello, and Jason Pittman. The volleyball team had a 24-8 record. They advanced all the way to the semi-finals of the County Tournament but lost the State Title to Brebeuf. The girls’ soccer team finished the season 5-10-2 and lost in the sectional as well. The boys’ soccer team ended its season 9-5-3 but lost in the sectional (Passages XXX 23, 83, 89, 91, 93, 97). However, while the soccer team was winning big, one soccer player was finding it tough to make the game. Jon Elsner, a PMHS soccer player, was diagnosed with a degenerative knee condition that ended his playing career. He had surgery in May to trim bone chips around the knee, and then it was discovered that he had a deformed meniscus. Elsner would no longer be able to play soccer in college as he had previously planned, but he was a candidate for a cartilage transplant (Shive S05). Elsner’s unplanned leave left the soccer team without a team captain for a while, but the team continued its success and finished out the season on top. Football in Marion County was chanting one name: Perry! The Falcons rushed, threw, and kicked a near picture-perfect season, ending the regular season 8-0. However, sectionals did not prove to be good to the Falcons. Perry won against Martinsville during sectional play, but they could not stand up to the Northwest Space Pioneers and ended their winning streak (Labéjof “Football falters in postseason stunner” 6). Homecoming was not so picture-perfect; in fact, some might have said it was a near disaster. The original Homecoming game against Franklin Central was cancelled due to a horrendous thunderstorm and would not be rescheduled. Several Falcons were worried that Homecoming wouldn’t even happen for 2002; even the dance was postponed from September 21 to October 5. However, the official Perry Homecoming game was against Southport two weeks later (Johnson 3). Perry beat Southport 35-0. (Labéjof “Football seeks flawless season” 6). The theme of Homecoming 2002 was Candyland. The winning relay team for the pushcart race was the swim team, and FCA was the proud winner of the banner competition (Johnson 3). The Homecoming king and queen were William Corbett and Heather Burleson (Passages XXX 13). New beginnings around Perry were showing up all over the place, not just on the football field. Roines was a senior girls club. It came back this year but failed to stay around. One of the big objectives the club wanted complete was to establish a Powder Puff football team, but the team was never created (Passages XXX 72). The marching Falcons also experienced new beginnings. The marching band competed at Regionals at Indiana State University and received a Division 1 rating and made it to State. Rick Granlund was the band director, and the drum majors were Dan Nitsch, Andrea Norcross, and Kara Green (Passages XXX 60). Nitsch said that the marching band making it to state was definitely his favorite memory of high school (Nitsch Personal Interview). The fall play was also set up differently, but in a good way. The fall play, or plays, were two one-act plays in one night. One was titled “Impromptu” that was about four confused people trying to find their place in the world. The other was “Black Comedy” that was about a man named Brindsley Miller meeting his girlfriend Carol’s father for the first time. The Veteran’s Day program was again held at Perry, but this year, it took place on September 11, 2002, one year after the horrible terrorist attacks in New York City. The program honored war veterans as well as remember the terrorist attacks that took place the previous year. Emcees were Josiah Ewing and Ashley Donnell (Passages XXX 18, 21). Perry got another taste of national news as well. Through distance learning, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar spoke with Perry Meridian students from Washington in Rosemarie Kuntz’s class about the possible war in Iraq. Lugar encouraged students to dedicate themselves to understanding issues of international importance along with those closer to home (McCleery S01). In other Perry news, not all changes to Perry were good ones. A maintenance worker was fixing a broken toilet when a pipe broke. Water spewed everywhere. When the custodians went to turn off the valve, they found that the valves had been moved during renovation, and the blueprints were nowhere to be found. While the valves were being located, water flooded the upstairs hallway with ankle-deep water (Wilson 1). Other changes were good. Aaron Cantrell was awarded the Herman B. Wells Scholarship. He was one out of two Falcons to be a finalist for the scholarship, but he was the only one to have received the award at PMHS (Macy 2). The second semester of the 2002-2003 school year at Perry Meridian High School can only be described as being long and difficult. When students returned to school on January 6, 2003, not even they expected the troubles that the entire world would go through over the next few months. In the first few weeks of the semester, many students went to Walk Disney World to study animation and stage production. Mrs. Burdine was the teacher sponsor for the trip. The students took courses taught by workers at Disney during the day, and during the afternoon and evenings, they were given free access to the theme park (Lochard 1). Doug Wampler, the baseball coach, won the IHBCA Coach of the Year award in 2003. This was the third time in five years that Coach Wampler was able to win the award. He earned the award because of his success and because of how well he teaches his athletes to make the routine play (Hanley 6). Not long after, the bad news started to come in strong and fast. On the first day of February, the space shuttle, Columbia, disintegrated during reentry. It is remembered as one of the worst national disasters of the decade. Seven astronauts were killed, and it is only the second manned spacecraft to crash in American history. At the time of the crash, NASA believed the cause to have been a small hole in the right wing (Sanger). Perry Township hosted a convocation in February with speakers talking about “Rachel’s Challenge.” Rachel Joy Scott was a student at Columbine who wrote an essay before she was murdered. Her essay’s thesis was “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same.” Her father runs the program and Bill Sanders speaks the message (McKenzie 1). The school’s musical for 2003 was Footloose. The musical starred seniors Moritz Goj and Josaih Ewing, along with junior Niki Rasmussen. Many people believed that the cast fit their parts perfectly, and that it was one of the best musicals of recent memory (Oldham 1). Making headlines in the world at this time was the breakout of the SARS epidemic. Though it was quarantined in China for many months, the world was never informed that a new and deadly disease had begun to spread. When it started to spread throughout the world, the lack of anticipation caused the production of cures and preventions to be very slow at the start. It took many months before it was mostly eradicated (Yardley E7). Coming back to Perry, in what has recently become Perry tradition, the strong wrestling team was beaten during the state tournament of 2003. With a final score of 54-9, PMHS fell to Mater Dei. All of the graduating seniors had won sectionals in all four years and had qualified for state three out of those four years (Mays 6). In the most successful season in the history of the girls’ basketball team, the 2003 team advanced all the way to the state championship game. Though they lost to Kokomo 44-42, the season will always be known as one of the best for any of our girls’ sports teams. The team was led by juniors Christina Cunningham and senior Laura Gaybrick (Labejof 7). The news piece that most dominated headlines throughout 2003 was the War in Iraq. On March 20, 2003, President George W. Bush declared war on the Iraqi government. Fearing the improper use of weapons of mass destruction, Bush claimed that the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, was a criminal to the rest of the world. The United States started out with the bombing of Iraq. Within two weeks, the land forces made it to Baghdad and took control of the city (Conan). For the spring play, the PM actors presented All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten. The play was a comedic success but very hard to act out. Many of the roles were uncommon and hard to relate to (McManama 1). The 2003 Prom theme was “A Moment in Time.” It was once again held at Primo’s with the After-Prom activity held at PMHS. The court included Chris Brooks, Brian Lockhart, Charles Jackson, Jesse Wilson, Rachel Weisenbach, Samantha Saba, Melissa VanNoy, Crystal Lochard, Nikki Tacket, and Nate Orme (Green 1). With the end of the year, many awards were announced for students. Eamon Clark won the James Head Academic Scholarship, Yvonne Gilbert won the Eugene Echols Award, and Nathan Orme was given the Something Extra Award. Aaron Cantrell was also recognized by the Indianapolis Star as an Indiana Academic All-Star (Passages XXX 28). The class of 2003 had two very strong students named as the Valedictorian and Salutatorian. Aaron Cantrell was named as the class Valedictorian with a 4.578 GPA, and Sanjay Mohanty was named as the Salutatorian with a 4.507 GPA. The graduating class numbered 331 students (Johnson 1). Works Cited Conan, Neal. "Analysis: Latest on War in Iraq." Talk of the Nation. Inspire, Online. 24 March 2003. . Fultz, Collin. Student. 2000-2004. Personal Interview, 9 Apr. 2007. Green, Whitney. "The Moment Has Come." Focus. 2 May 2003: 1. Hanley, Dan. "Wampler Coach of the Year Again." Focus. 31 January 2003: 6. Johnson, Stephanie. "Don't' you fret, Homecoming's not over yet!" Focus. 4 Oct. 2002: News: 3. Johnson, Stephanie. "Seven Semesters of Hard Work Earn Valedictorian and Salutatorian Titles." Focus. 14 February 2003: 1. Labéjof, Natalie. "Football falters in postseason stunner." Focus. 1 Nov. 2002: Boys' Sports: 6. Labéjof, Natalie. "Football seeks flawless season." Focus. 18 Oct. 2002: Boys' Sports: 6. Labejof, Natalie. "State Title Eludes Lady Falcons." Focus. 14 March 2003: 7. Lochard, Crystal. "Falcons Flock to Disney." Focus. 31 January 2003: 1. Macy, Lindsay. "Cantrell earns Wells Award from IU." Focus. 19 Dec. 2002: News: 2. Mays, Erin. "Wrestlers Fall At State Brawl." Focus. 14 March 2003: 1. McCleery, Bill. "Video link brings senator into class." The Indianapolis Star. 8 Oct. 2002: S01. McManama, Amy. "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." Focus. 18 April 2003: 1. McKenzie, Heidi. "Rachel's Challenge." Focus. 14 February 2003: 1. Nitsch, Dan. Student. 1999-2003. Personal Interview, 30 Apr. 2007. Oldham, Maggie. "Footloose Shines!" Focus. 28 February 2003: 1. Passages XXX: Pop Into Perry. Marceline, Mo: Walsworth Publishing Company, 2003. Sanger, David E. "'Roger,' and Then Silence." New York Times. Inspire, Online. 2 Feb 2003. . Shive, Byron. "Last year of high school, and soccer, for senior." The Indianapolis Star. 7 Sept. 2002: S05. Yardley, Jim "Rats Hunted in SARS Episode in China; New Case is Confirmed." New York Times. Inspire, Online 8 January 2004. . Wilson, Jesse. "Falcons face floods in lockers and hallways." Focus. 6 Dec. 2002: 1.