JHS Food Pantry in midst of shortage

by Haylee Hedrick

One of Jeff High’s biggest problem has nothing to do with grades or attendance — it’s about hunger.

Almost 60-percent of students in the Greater Clark County School district qualify for free or reduced lunch, with 55-percent of the JHS student body alone qualifying. In comparison, roughly 35-percent of students at Charlestown High School and nine-percent of students at Floyd Central qualify for the program.

To combat the growing food issues within the community, JHS applied for a grant for a food pantry during the 2014-15 school year. The school received $1,000 from the Community Foundation, and GenerationOn gave $250 to start up the collection of food.

Thanks to those donations, the JHS food pantry allows students to take a cinch bag home containing food for them and their families.

“Every student needs something to be successful, and this is what these students need,” assistant principal Marianne Fisher said.

However now, the food pantry isn’t stocked well enough, and is too low in funds to provide meals for all the students that it should benefit at JHS. This is a huge issue, according to Fisher, considering one-fourth of the school uses the pantry weekly, with students getting their main meal of their day from school.

That results in the weekends being a recurring struggle for families. Several families don’t even get to eat as a family, each individual eats whenever the opportunity presents itself.

‘We don’t really have any food in the house at all except a can of corn,” said an anonymous JHS student that uses the pantry. “Now we can have a real meal together as a family.”

Who this helps

There are a significant amount of students among the JHS student body that cannot rely on stocked cabinets or kitchens at home on a day-to-day basis, mostly due to homelife difficulties, financially or otherwise.

Inside the walls of JHS, there are all levels of poverty, ranging from homeless students, to students who have a home, but the family cannot afford enough food on the weekends for essential meals.

With the pantry, however, students can go home for a weekend and not have the worries of where their next meal might come from.

“I can’t thank (the pantry) enough for helping me out,” the anonymous student said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do while my dad was gone.”  

How to help stock the food pantry

The 45-percent of students at JHS that are not on free or reduced lunch can help the other half by bringing in items and food for their peers and classmates.

Non-perishable items that are lightweight and easy to put into cinch bags are needed. Pop-tarts, peanut butter sandwich crackers, mac n cheese and ramen noodles are items students usually enjoy receiving the most.

Canned goods and frozen items are not unacceptable, but are not preferred, due to storage limitations. The cans are too heavy to put in the cinch bags that are sent home with students, and the school has no way to keep the frozen items cold.

Currently, Key Club is the main JHS group that stocks the food pantry; however Fisher welcomes other groups to donate items they deem appropriate.

“Donating to the food pantry gets (students) needed service hours, plus you get to help support your fellow students, friends and peers,” Key Club president Caroline Elliott said. “You could be helping one of your best friends and you don’t even know it.”

If you are interested in donating, bring items to Dr. Fisher’s office (A137). She will also answer any questions regarding food pantry items, including inclusion in the program, at mfisher@gccschools.com.

Items you can bring in to help:

  • Mac and cheese
  • Sealed jelly packages
  • Pasta (in box/plastic)
  • Ramen noodles
  • Poptarts
  • Powdered milk
  • Cereals (box, bag, or cup)
  • Boxes of rice
  • Boxes of cookies
  • PB jars
  • PB sandwich crackers
  • Soups in plastic containers.
    fisher food pantry

Record-Drowning Red Devils

by: Haylee Hedrick and Adrian Blair

Michael Jordan, Elvis Presley, Gene Kelly, Tom Brady and Albert Einstein are looked at as superior for dominating within their field. They showcase power and influence over others — otherwise known as dominance.

The JHS boys and girls swim teams have been dominating within the Hoosier Hills for years, gradually beating fierce competitors and overcoming tough obstacles.

Second-year head coach Mike Pepa has witnessed his team push themselves to success.    

“From a school standpoint, I think we’re one of the most successful programs in the building as far as our record in the conference, how we place at conference, Sectionals and at state,” Pepa said. “I think we’re probably one of the top three programs in the school building over the last 6-8 years, as far as dominance compared to our conference.”


There are over 3,000 high school girl swimmers throughout the Hoosier state, which correlates into over 200 teams. The girls JHS swim team are ranked 24 out of those 244 teams.

This year, the girls won all 12 dual meets in the Hoosier Hills Conference, as well as the conference championship meet. The swimmers, along with the girls basketball team, were the only JHS team to go undefeated during conference play.

On Feb. 4, the girls took home first place at Sectionals. Jeffersonville was down 48 points going into the second half of the meet due to the fact that there currently aren’t any divers on the team. With that in consideration, the meet came down to the 400-yard freestyle relay, where Jeff took home first place to edge Floyd Central 465-464.

“Our biggest issue has been not having enough divers,” said Junior Caroline Elliot. “We had two new girl divers who were ineligible to compete in meets due to not having enough dives, and our other diver suffered an injury just before conference leaving us without any divers during Sectional.”

At Sectional, the team broke two Sectional records, two pool records and three school records.

Senior Jacqueline Richard was part of a school record-breaking 200 medley relay. Senior Adeline Dixon broke her own school records in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM. Junior Rachel Walker also broke her own record in the 200. Walker’s goal is to win a state meet by the time she graduates from JHS.

“Rachel Walker is our fastest girl swimmer. She’s one of the fastest high school swimmers in the state of Indiana,” Pepa said.

Walker qualified for the state finals in both of her events. She qualified fifth in the 500, with her time leaving her in the top seven in the state. She finished 14th in the 200.

The team is also poised to be good in the future, as well. Freshman Megan McEwen and fellow freshman Alyssa Miller, were both part of the 200 freestyle relay that placed second.

“We have two freshmen that made huge impact on the girls team: Megan McEwen and Alyssa Miller,” Pepa said. “Our two most improved swimmers on the girls team are Emma Ellis and Tonya Williams. They did a heck of a job this year compared to last year.”


The boys team lost seven swimmers from last year. Though thin in numbers, their season was a successful one, consisting of placing in conference despite being made up of mostly underclassmen.

“We’re in a little bit of a re-building phase, but we have the benefit of having some really strong swimmers from the front side, and then developing some new swimmers would be great,” Pepa said.

While the loss of seven boys swimmers stung, it was cause for a total team reconstruction. First-year boys swimmer Kip Jackson believes that the boys team is just a few guys away from being even more dominant.

“This year, we have a very young team, mostly freshman and sophomores. So we are seeing where the underclassmen fit best, whether it be relays or individual events,” Jackson, a junior, said. “There are only four seniors on the boys team and three seniors on the girls team. Hopefully after summer training, we will be back on top next year because I know we are all hungry for that Sectional title.”

On Jan. 28, the boys placed as conference runner-up behind Floyd Central. The Red Devils had three individual conference champions: sophomore Kameron Case with two (100 and 200 freestyle), and freshman Carter Dilger with one (100 butterfly.)  

“For boys, Kameron Case was fastest in conference in his events, Levin Martin was very strong in his event, and we have Carter Dilger, who hopefully will have the opportunity to go to state maybe even place at state in his event,” Pepa said.  

Dilger was top three in the state for 14-and-under in 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.  Case said his fastest event was the 200 yard freestyle. His time for that was 1:48.

The boys also placed third in Sectional, losing to Seymour (second) and Floyd (first). Case placed first in the 100 (48:07)  and 200 (1:44.73). Both Dilger and Case with also be representing JHS at the state finals on Feb. 25.

The rest of the story …

Most athletes have a certain amount of time they must abide by when it comes to their performance. However, swimming is one of the few sports that doesn’t have that.

“We don’t have to worry about playing time…we worry about the clock. The clock doesn’t lie,” Pepa said.   

In swimming, dropping a few seconds off of your last time is viewed as a success.

“Everyone has the same goal, whether you’re trying to be in the Olympics or whether this is your first season you’ve ever swam competitively,” Pepa said. “(That goal is) a personal best time.”  

While swimming is a strenuous and time-consuming sport, Pepa believes the athletes on his team are some of the best around the school.

“It’s motivating to be around student athletes who perform well in the classroom and constantly try to reach their goal and potential,”  Pepa said. “Swimming is not an easy sport. It’s an awful lot of hours and it’s very demanding. It all weighs on you mentally as well.”

In total, most of the JHS swim team trains 18 hours and 45 minutes a week to better their performance, further proving their devotion to the sport.

“Training hard, having dedication, and consequently reaching your potential faster than anybody else that we compete against — to me that’s dominance,” Pepa said.

Serving up Awards and Helping Students live out the Dream

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.” — Martin Luther King.

After the new year has passed and the month of January is in full swing, attention often turns to Martin Luther King Day: a day that honors a man who valued justice and equality.

During his life, King showed humanity and leadership with all he had, and spoke about it to all who were willing to listen. To honor his holiday, Clark County students paid homage to Martin Luther King by submitting essay, poster or video projects to be in “The Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Contest.”

In the JHS contest, there was a three way tie for first place: freshmen Alayna Lacy,  freshman Lyndsey Vessels , and some students from Ms. Corcoran’s Impact class. Lacy and Vessels both entered in posters and Ms.Corcoran’s students made a video. In the county-wide contest, Vessels poster placed third.

“(I) read through his speech at least seven times, then I just started taking things from the speech and put it all on a poster board,” Vessels said.

The senior team of Jacqueline James and Emanda Gibson took home second place in the JHS contest.

Scholarships were also handed out to students. To earn the scholarship, students had to fill out an application, write an essay, have a certain amount of community service hours and have a good academic record.

The Martin Luther King Scholarship winners from JHS were seniors Lizzy Bishop and Lucy Sandavol.

There is a yearly breakfast put on by the King Holiday Committee to show admiration for Dr.King. This year the King Scholarship Breakfast host was Renaissance Academy.

“I’m very honored to be here,” Sandoval said. “There are so many people here to honor Martin Luther King.”

The chair of the King Holiday Committee, Janice Leavell, was very impressed with all the students’ work .

“People say that kids are our future, but these amazing kids are our now,” Leavell said. “He wanted all people to be equal. We honor him because we are the people.”

The contest and scholarship winners are invited to attend the breakfast, as well as school administrators all over Clark County.

“This is a wonderful community event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.,” JHS principal Julie Straight said. “I’ve been able to attend for four years. The students are a big part of the event and live out the dream.”

Greater Clark County Schools Deputy Superintendent Travis Haire commented on the event saying that Martin Luther King’s dream is still living throughout the talented students artwork

“This special event is meant to celebrate Martin luther King jr Holiday and to honor students with showing great artwork and with awarding scholarships,” Haire said.  

MLK committee member Dawn Krabbe stated that the Martin Luther King Contest showcases the unique out-of-the-box creativity of the students.  

“It’s a wonderful event for the community to recognize a lot of students artistically and academically. Not all students are the same and it shows their different mediums in Clark County,” Krabbe said.

All involved spent the day basking in the inspiration  that was Dr. Martin Luther King and he will continue to be recognized for years to come as the expressive inspirational man that he was. Let’s all keep living out the dream of Dr. King.


“ If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. “ — Martin Luther King


JHS: Still Going Strong After Four “Straight” Years

Four years play a big role in our society.
It takes four years for high a school student to go from the “newbie” freshman to the ruling senior. The Olympics, made to test an athlete’s true expertise, happens once every four years. The United States presidential election, voting for the face of our country, occurs every four years.
Around Jeffersonville, a big moment happened four years ago: Julie Straight was named the principal at Jeff High School.
Before Straight was tabbed with leading the school, the Jeffersonville native spent over 20 years in the English classroom, coached gymnastics, girls track and field, cross country and cheerleading teams, and sponsored clubs, such as Renaissance and the Class of 1994.
“I’ve always been very involved and I’ve always loved kids and students,” Straight said. “This is where I wanted my professional career to be.”

The beginnings…
“When I first stepped in as interim principal, it was very challenging because we ended up down a few administrators (and I) had to bring in some extra help,” Straight said. “The structures were what worked for someone else, (but) weren’t what would fit my style the best.”
In 2012, there were changes that Straight had to devise, such as organizing structure throughout the building.
“When I was named principal at the end of (the 2012) school year, that was a whirlwind of a summer,” Straight said. “Hiring people, re-establishing some leadership, and the way we would just do business here.”
Once she got the ball rolling as principal, she set her sights on several educational improvements, including honing in on higher test scores.
“If you look at data, all of our main metrics moved up,” Straight said of the improvements since her take over. “ECAs continue to go up, our graduation rate (is) up, our P.R.I.D.E. program has flourished. I think that being a part of the Jeff High family is something that a lot of people have pride in.”

What others are saying
Greater Clark County Schools Superintendent Dr. Andrew Melin, who is Straight’s direct boss, has been impressed with the new principal.
“I believe all of Mrs. Straight’s efforts have resulted in the improvement of many important metrics like graduation rate, post-secondary acceptance, dual credit attainment, etc,” Melin said. “As a result, I believe the image of JHS in our community and region is the best it has ever been.”
Melin also praised Straight’s progress of bettering JHS’ culture.
“Perhaps the most significant change I have seen in JHS since Mrs. Straight was named principal is the establishment of a positive school culture with the students, parents, staff, and community,” Melin said. “She has also been integral in expanding our College and Career Readiness initiative, which includes enhancing our counseling program and our efforts to join the Ford Next Generation Learning Network.”
Assistant principal Tim LaGrange agrees with Melin, saying that Straight became principal at a grueling time, and that he was impressed on how she took on the challenge.
“I think first of all she took over the building in a difficult situation, meaning she was the third principal in a matter of a few days,” LaGrange said. “She calmed the waters (and) she steadied the ship.
“I think one of her most positive attributes is that she bleeds Jeff Red Devils,” LaGrange continued. “She loves Jeff High and all of our kids. That is apparent in all of her decisions. I think that from a personal standpoint, she’s a great boss. She’s the kind of boss that you want to work hard for and that you don’t want to disappoint. On a daily basis, she is a very positive leader who cares about the kids.”.
Despite the kind words, Straight commends the teamwork that her, and her apt-called JHS family, have had throughout the last four years.
“We really work together: students, teachers, and faculty,” Straight said. “I’m very proud of that, and how far we’ve come. It’s hard to believe it’s not really that long.”

The future of JHS
Although principals are considered the ‘top dog’ of the school building, Straight explains that to get the full picture, one must include all of the moving parts. She says the staff and faculty go into making JHS such a great school just as much as she does.
One way to see the improvement would be looking at all of the clubs that have popped up, which are student-run, but also teacher-sponsored.
“We have blown up club-wise: we have our debate team, chess club, key club,” Straight said. “Now we have Optimist club, and so many other things that are growing that we’re taking pride in.”
She explains that all of these various clubs give the school a more community and family feel. She would like to think that this feeling within the school has increased since she has been principal.
In four years time, Straight has said to have brought a young atmosphere to the school, increased the positive culture of the building, positively impacted test scores/graduation rates, and implemented P.R.I.D.E throughout JHS.
So what are Straight’s plan over the next four years? According to the principal, it’s seeing continued improvement. Straight said that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere and is content with being a Jeff Red Devil.
“I’m very happy doing what I do,” Straight said. “I like being in a school where I’m supposed to be, and that’s where I want to be.”

Greater Clark County School Board Elections

Although the Presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be the main topic of conversation on Nov. 8, 2016, those results aren’t the only ones for students to keep to an eye on.

The results that will be affecting the students of Jeff High School the most will be the Greater Clark County school board elections. Four of the seven school board seats are up for election, with three of those four openings having re-election filed.

The Hyphen breaks down what you should know about each race, and those candidates running.

District 2- all of charlestown township      

Current board member: Tony Hall (filed for re-election)         

Challenger(s): Katie Hutchinson & Pasquel Ross

Tony Hall: “I feel like I can share my experience and knowledge. We have a very bright future in Clark County and I feel great things are ahead for Greater Clark…(We have to) make sure every decision you make is answering ‘is this best for kids?’…During the first board meeting, we recognize students, teachers, other staff and even some community members who have gone above the norm.”

About the candidate: Hall is a retired Greater Clark County school teacher. He was a math teacher for 33 years, an Athletic Director for 17 Years and a girls basketball coach for 13 years. Hall is the secretary of the board of trustees. He is in two committees within the school board: Charlestown redevelopment and the ISBA nomination committee.

Katie Hutchinson:  “I am running for the educators, families and students. It seems GCCS has lost focus of who, not what, we are about. As a school board member, I want to put our focus back on students and involve families in every step, not just the voting … I will bring a fresh look and a passion for always doing what needs to be done. I am not ok when things are ‘good’. Our kids deserve greatness because they have greatness inside of them. We are preparing our students for tomorrow. We can’t continue doing what we’ve always done — it’s not working.”

About the candidate: According to former JHS teacher Katie Hutchinson, she has worked for Greater Clark for eight years.

Pasquel Ross: could not be reached for comment and no verified information was found.

District 5- Jeffersonville Township Precincts 17, 18, and 20 through 25    

Current board member: Christina Gilkey (filed for re-election)            

Challenger(s): unopposed

Christina Gilkey: “I, personally, feel we (GCCS) are in a great place in what we are doing for teachers and students. I want to continue to be apart of that. There’s a learning curve to being a school board member. We [board members] have to do homework and study material just like students.”  

About the candidate: Gilkey is the Board of School Trustees Vice President. Within the school board, she attains to the strategic planning committee, insurance committee, and college and career readiness.

District 6- Jeffersonville township precinct 7,8, 9, 10, 11, 11a, 12, 13, 15 and 16     

Current board member: Jerry White (not seeking re-election)                        

Challenger(s): Milton Clayton (filed for open seat)

Milton Clayton: “I’ve always worked with kids and I’ve enjoyed working with children…I have an extensive public education background. I want to help ensure the safety and education of students. I’m a parent and a grandparent and I know how education affects family.”

About the candidate: Clayton worked with Greater Clark County Schools for 41 years. Of those 41 years, 25 of them were in the transportation field. He has held the position of Administrative Assistant and Director of Transportation for the GCCS system as well.

District 7- Jeffersonville Township Precincts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 14        

Current board member: Teresa Bottorff-Perkins (filed for re-election)   

Challenger(s): Kelli Dattilo

Teresa Bottorff-Perkins: “I’ve been involved in education my entire life. I spent 40 years as a teacher, counselor, and administrator. I am passionate about students and schools. Being on the board takes a lot of preparation. Several people do not realize that members of the board have full time jobs.”

About the candidate: According to a Dec. 2, 2015 Courier-Journal article, Perkins pleaded guilty to a D-felony charge of shoplifting in Tennessee. She was sentenced to four years of probation and also had to pay $1,402.77 in restitution by Dec.15, 2014. Perkins is in the strategic planning committee and the education foundation within the school board.

Kelli Dattilo- “As an educator, I have many of the skills needed to understand the inner workings of a school district…I think it’s important that the needs of the students, teachers, and staff are understood by the Clark County community and taxpayers…Before becoming a teacher, I worked in the banking/business world for almost 20 years. My knowledge of business principles, management of people and resources, as well as problem-solving skills are talents I would bring to the GCCS school board.”

About the candidate: Dattilo works at Doss High School, a high school in Louisville, Ky. She has been a teacher there for nine years.

“I think that what’s important is one [ a member  of the school board ] who wants to work hard,  is open minded,  and a collaborative team player,” Deputy Superintendent Travis Haire said.  

D-Crew: Fired Up For Fridays

Story by Haylee Hedrick

From the moment that water started spurting out of the firehose, Gabi Knittle’s face exploded with uncontrollable joy and excitement. Knittle, who is a member of Angela Kern’s Careers Exploration class, accompanies a handful of classmates as they take a field trip to see their buddy, Sergeant Justin Ames, every Friday at the firehouse.

This weekly field trip is made possible through the C.H.O.I.C.E program, which is an acronym that stands for ‘Community Helping Our Youth In Career Education.’ In this case, the youth is a group of eight special needs students known as the D-crew. (The Fire Department is split into A, B, and C crews.)

Special education teacher Angela Kern loves the program, especially Sergeant Ames’ connection with the students.

“I love that Sergeant Ames communicates with every kid,” Kern said. She said that Ames makes sure that the students are comfortable when they’re at the firehouse, and teaches them about communicating and working with others around the community.

“The activities that he does with the students help teach them soft skills they will need for later in life,” Kern said.

Before each lesson, Ames takes note of what the students are learning in the classroom so he can further apply it in their D-crew activities.

“He (Sergeant Ames) takes as much pride in this program as we do,” Kern said.

At the firehouse, the D-crew does a variety of activities, with one in particular called “Rescuing Randy.” During the activity, two students wrap ropes around a dummy (nicknamed Randy) and work together to maneuver him to safety. The activity teaches the students about the importance of teamwork.

“Without one, then the other cannot do their job,” Ames tells the class.

Ames also lets the students spray the fire hose. Two students hold the hose in place as one works the nozzle. This also allows students to work together, as they alternate roles so that each member of D-Crew gets a chance to spray.

“They love using the hose,” Kern said. “Some of them get crazy when it comes to the spraying part, though.”

During these activities, the students get to learn valuable lessons, whether they realize it or not.

“We’re proud to be involved in this great program, which allows us to help (the students)  be successful later in life,” Ames said.

When asked what their favorite part of the trip is, the D-crew students’ responses were joyfilled: “The hose!” Justin Keith and TreVeon Polk said.  

Sergeant Ames attempts to connect with all of the crew, even Deija Franklin, who is deaf. He signs her name to her to get her attention.  

When asked what she thinks of Ames, she responded with a smile.

“He signs to me and helps me,” Deija signed.