06-07 2006-2007 The 2006-2007 school year has been filled with changes. There have been plenty of adjustments, positive and negative, brought to Perry Meridian High School. Being in the news for administration changes and for excellent student achievements, the year has brought an array of different headlines. Ms. Michelle Burns started off the school year on a good note by earning the title of the Perry Meridian High School Teacher of the Year. She is a part of the administrative council, and she also participated in the Teacher Leadership Academy. Inspirational and encouraging, she strives for her students to reach for their highest potential. She “expects nothing less than excellence from her students,” teaching GED classes and tutoring (“Perry Meridian High Teacher of the Year” ). Just ten days after Perry Township students returned from summer vacation, a change was made, not only affecting our community, but altering all future science textbooks everywhere. As of August 4th, Pluto was demoted to “dwarf planet” and is no longer included with the list of the other eight planets. At the International Astronomical Union meeting in Prague, it was decided that planets are required to sweep their orbits clear of other objects, and Pluto does not (Ditteon ). Now switching subjects from Pluto to the Sun, this news is about the Connecticut Sun of the Women’s National Basketball Association, more specifically basketball star Katie Douglas. On September 2, Katie Douglas ’97 was selected for the All-WNBA first team by a national media panel. During the season, she led her team to the league’s best record (“Hoosier Digest” ). She was even named the Most Valuable Player of the WNBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden in July (Kravitz D01). However, not all news of Perry Meridian students has been good this year. On September 16th, a PMHS sophomore was arrested on charges that he had an unloaded handgun in his locker. Just after lunch, around 12:45 pm, another student told an administrator that she believed a student had a gun in his locker. Security opened the locker and found it, and the 16-year-old was taken into custody by the Marion County Sheriff Department (Neal “Gun Found in Student Locker” S01). Although, this bad news did not damage the school’s spirits, as Homecoming 2006 was approaching. Mike Barker and Jalesa Lee were named king and queen of the “Falcons Gone Country”-themed homecoming (Hart and Overton 1). The homecoming football game was played in the rain, and with the weather getting even poorer, and lightning striking, the game was postponed after the first quarter with the Falcons ahead by twenty-one points to the Cougars’ zero. The game picked up the next day. The Falcons were not able to score on this day; however, the previously-scored twenty-one points were enough to make Perry Meridian victorious. Bloomington North’s only points were of their sole touchdown scored in the final minutes (Bowser “Football Fancies Conference Title” 6). On October 17th, the United States population hit 300 million, according to the Census Bureau. The 300 millionth baby was probably born in a hospital; however, he or she may have arrived from overseas or may have been smuggled across the Mexican border (Roberts 10-11). In Perry Township news, the most controversial news of the school year, on November 13th, Dr. H. Douglas Williams, the superintendent since 1993, was placed on indefinite administrative leave after debate between school board members at a meeting. The board voted with a 4-3 result. The conclusion came after months of personal attacks between board members. On October 4th, Barbara Thompson filed a report with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department saying Williams and Terry Rice, president of the Perry Education Association, threatened board members at a meeting. Assistant Superintendent Dennis Nichols has been serving as the acting superintendent since Dr. Williams was put on leave (Neal “Perry Schools Chief Placed on Leave” B01). During the break for the holidays, tragic news hit the nation as the former president of the United States, Gerald Ford, died at the age of 93 the day after Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 26. He was the longest-living president after surpassing Ronald Reagan on November 12th. He has remained the only unelected United States president (Nichols and Vanden Brook ). Four days after President Ford’s death, another former president died. On December 30, 2006, former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, was executed for killing at least 148 people in 1982. He was hanged in the Shiite town of Dujail after being sentenced to death for crimes against humanity on the fifth of November (“A Report on the Fate of Saddam Hussein” ). Additionally, President George Bush announced in a speech to the nation that 20,000 more troops would be sent to Iraq “to quell sectarian violence there.” Bush also stated that there were not enough troops “to halt the capital’s descent over the past year into chaos.” He argued that the consequences of failure in Iraq are very high, and that the United States could not afford to lose (Sanger 1). Moreover, in other national news, for the first time since 1994, Democrats took control of Congress for President Bush’s final two years. Also, for the first time in United State’s history, there was the nation’s first female Speaker of the House. Representative Nancy Pelosi from California earned this enormous achievement (Espo ). In the meantime, in attempts to keep New Year’s resolutions, the Focus newspaper challenged Perry Meridian to lose a ton—literally. The newspaper staff thought that if 400 people would join and lose five pounds each, the school could lose 2,000 pounds (Gravelle “A Weighty Goal: Can Perry Lose a Ton?” 1). Over 200 participants, students and staff, signed up to lose weight in this Focus-sponsored event. There were weigh stations in several rooms of the building (Green 2). After the final weigh-ins, the total weight loss was just a little over twenty percent of what the school had aimed for, losing 435.5 pounds in the eight-week program. After this effort, vice principal Joan Ellis and teacher Linda Burdine have said that they will be starting a new club next year called FIT, standing for Falcons In Training (Bowser “Falcons Lose 400” 2). The Perry Meridian wrestling team had another excellent season. At team state, the wrestlers ended their season losing to Belmont, ranked sixth, with close matches (Probasco “Wrestlers Lose Heartbreaker at Team State” 6). Although, one wrestler was victorious from the beginning to the end of the season, going 53-0 and winning his weight class at individual state. Wrestler junior Chico Adams ’08 won the 285-pound weight class Individual State title at Conseco Fieldhouse by a fall in the second period (Probasco “Ch-ch-ch-Chico!” 7). The wrestlers were not the only Perry Meridian sports team to make it to state. The school’s Special Olympic basketball team made it for the second year in a row. The Blue Falcons team finished with the same result as their fellow Falcon wrestlers. The Blue Falcons barely fell to the Madison County Scotts with the score of 54-57 in the final game (Gravelle “Special Olympians in the House” 2). As the third quarter came to a close, the valedictorian and salutatorian of the class of 2007 were set. Thomas William Gaither earned the title of the valedictorian with an outstanding grade point average of 4.5417, also contributing to Perry Meridian in a plethora of other activities. Tom was also the National Honor Society president, the Service Learning Executive Board co-president, and the boys’ swim captain; however, he still had time to be in Ambassador Corps., Spanish Club, and Link Crew. The title of the salutatorian of 2007 was given to Kasey Rae Kraft. She earned this with her grade point average of 4.46, and, like Tom, has many extracurricular activities to add to this. Kasey is the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the secretary of the National Honor Society, and she is also involved in Link Crew, French Club, and girls’ tennis (Bowser “Valedictorian, Salutatorian Set” 1). The Indianapolis Colts were also victorious, winning Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium. The Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 for Indy’s first title. This long-awaited achievement sent a wave of faithfulness toward the team around the city, and schools around Perry Township had special spirit days to celebrate (Weisman ). Also victorious, Perry Meridian’s Robotics team, CyberBlue 234, won several awards during competition at the Boilermaker Regional, some of which include the Website Award, the Entrepreneurship Award, and the Chairman’s Award; also, the team took first place in the entire competition. This first locked them in to compete for nationals (Miller 1). To add to this list of winners, Perry Meridian’s Chamber Orchestra was chosen to be one of six orchestras in the nation to perform at the Orchestra America National Festival. The orchestra director, Mrs. Syndy Ortwein, sent in a blind-audition tape months before and was informed later in the year. It was the first and only Indiana school to participate in the event with other schools from Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada. The orchestra performed at Hilbert Circle Theatre in March (Neal “Youth Orchestra to Play Festival” S01). Despite all of the awards being earned by these people in the community, not everything in Perry Township was doing well. “Take Back Perry Schools” filed suit Monday, March 26th to sue the Perry Township School Board. The suit asks that the board’s decision on November 13th to put Dr. William on paid leave be declared unlawful. The suit states, “The school board cannot suspend Dr. Williams and investigate him indefinitely without the initiation of any charges.” There is a hearing set on May 9th (Brown A1, A3). In national news, on April 16th, a school shooting unfolded as Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, shot and killed thirty-three people, two of which were Purdue University alumni. The thirty-third person was himself. He was once declared mentally ill and even had incidents of stalking other students (“The Victims: Among the Dead Were 2 Professors Who Had Done Postgraduate Work at Purdue University” A09). Former Perry Meridian Falcon, Mark Amos ’04, a student at Virginia Tech, said of massacre, “Very, very odd experience, being on the inside of a situation like that.” As an ROTC cadet, he said, “I was basically responsible for finding out where everyone was so I instantly switched into that role and starting taking down names and making phone calls trying to figure out where our cadets were.” In doing so, fellow cadet Matt LaPorte was nowhere to be found. Amos later found that LaPorte died while trying to help others (Gordon ). On a more positive note, the 2007 Perry Meridian Prom took place on the twenty-eighth of April. The theme was “The World is not Enough”, and the theme song was announced to be For Your Eyes Only. The location differed from previous years, switching from Primo’s Banquet Hall to the Scottish Rite Cathedral; however, the after-prom stayed at the same location as the last after-prom at Expo Bowl (“A License to Dance” 1). The 2007-2008 school year has not finished, yet there are already changes to come at Perry. Years ago, students could waive any final in which they had an A or A-. It was then changed so that only seniors had that privilege, and underclassmen could only waive one final per semester if they had perfect attendance. Recently, the waive-a-final incentive has been completely taken away. Administrative Council decided that the incentive is ineffective in encouraging attendance. The principal, Dr. Anita Silverman, has said that Perry has only a 93% attendance rate, so the incentive must not be working very well. The council wants students to have more practice in taking finals for college (Sons 11). Perry Township is expecting to open a new high school in the fall of 2008. This new high school, New Tech High School, will be funded by the New Technology Foundation, a foundation hoping to expand its network of 24 New Tech schools around the country. New Tech High would have 400 students from both sides of the township. Middle school teachers would identify kids who are not “on track” to direct them toward this new school. This aims to attract students who might drop out. It would use project-based learning, instead of the current teacher-directed learning (Walsh 1).