Online Cycle 3: School evacuated due to faulty fire alarm

By Kendra Schwartz and Ashley Hocking

An alarm sounded and students quickly filed outside Thursday morning. Many students expected this to just be another drill, but this was not the case.

Ten minutes later, students were herded into the stands of the football stadium. Confused, cold and groggy from second hour, students mindlessly followed their peers.

It wasn’t until the students were moved back inside that they received news of what had transpired.

Assistant Principal Mike Norris made an announcement (see video).

In the rush of the events, Norris misspoke. He called it a fire drill, not a fire alarm.

“I was trying to get the schedule out quickly to make adjustments,” Norris said. “It was not a drill.”

Administrators were not able to announce the root of the problem to the student body until they had come inside from the stadium.

“We had not fully determined what the cause of the alarm was at the time [when students were gathered outside],” Norris said. “So to give out an announcement at that point would have been premature. A lot of that announcement had to do with the lunch schedule, the logistics of how we’re going to finish the rest of the day, the lunch schedule and sixth period. We didn’t know that until we were able to get everybody back in because we didn’t know what time everybody was going to come back in. There just wasn’t any real information to go out yet.”

However, Norris and the other administrators were impressed with how the student body dealt with the chaos. Although a few students used this as an opportunity to get out of class, most students cooperated with faculty and staff well throughout the confusion.

“There will always be a small handful of students that will try to use this as some sort of excuse to sneak out to [Veteran’s] Park or something like that, trying to think that they can do it in the confusion,” Norris said. “That’s normal; that happens. There’s 1,500 kids in this building. Ninety-nine percent of them are going to do exactly what they should to get through the rest of the day because we’ve got a lot of good kids. The couple of knuckleheads that take advantage of it would take advantage of whatever. We’ll deal with those.”

Although students were unaware of the conditions inside the school building, they followed the directions of teachers, police and security guards.

“Once the fire department was coming, and we excavated the kids to the the football stadium, which is the next place we go after we clear the building, everybody went,” Norris said. “My understanding, from talking to teachers and staff members that were at the football stadium, is that the kids were great out there. Police and firefighters showed up. The police helped order the kids to the football stadium.”

The source of the alarm was actually a faulty fire detector in the auditorium. This detector, in turn, held the student body in the stands for roughly 35 minutes.

“The slowest thing, which still went smooth, was getting the electrician from the district here to pull the faulty detector down, so we could reset the alarms,” Norris said. “We had to make sure we removed that from the system and they would reset to make sure other things that would set alarms off too.”

Some students and staff, however, were confused by alarms that stopped ringing after a few minutes. A few of the teachers in the tech wing of the school even returned to their classes, assuming it was all clear.

“Once the building is clear, then we sometimes do turn the alarms off because we have people in here working trying to figure out what’s going on,” Norris said. “No one should have re-entered the building until they were specifically told students could re-enter the building.

“A reminder will go out to teachers that they do not re-enter the building until they are told to re-enter the building,” he said. “Absence of the alarm is not a reason to come back in. If you think about it, if there was a real fire, the panel that controls the whole system could have burned up.”

Although the policy is to not return to the school until the school is cleared, many teachers were concerned with missing vital class time.

“We have a lot of good teachers here,” Norris said. “I think they’ll figure it out. It’s one of those unfortunate incidents that affected [us]. Really only fourth period was relatively unscathed to remain the same length of time because of lunches, but we’ll just roll with it and we’ll figure it out. It might be that some of the lessons plans won’t get done until tomorrow, but we’ll figure it out.”

Although teachers stayed relatively informed throughout the day, many parents only received desperate calls or rash texts. Later in the day, the administrators planned on contacting parents and guardians.

“Parents don’t get notified until after the fact,” Norris said. “The procedure is that there’s an administrator in charge at the district level. That person is told first. That person makes the public announcement. We did have several parents call because obviously kids are texting. So, we had several parents call. The receptionist stays in here, unless she has to be evacuated. She gives reassuring responses, like ‘Everybody is evacuated safely. Everybody is fine. Once we know there isn’t a fire, we’ll have everybody back in.’”

Administrators predict most parents had already been notified by concerned students.

“We’ll probably have an email or a call go out,” Assistant Principal Mark Preut said. “Most students have probably already texted, called or contacted parents somehow to let them know what’s going on.”

If a message is sent out to parents by phone, it will not be individual calls but simply a “robo-call” from the district level.

In the event of a real fire, the procedure would be similar, but administrators predict that process would go just as smoothly as it did in this false fire.

“We’re really ecstatic about how great the kids were,” Norris said. “You guys did a great job out there at the football stadium. We really appreciate that. There were a whole lot more students out there than staff members. If you guys had decided to be unmanageable, you could have. But, you didn’t. You guys were great and we appreciate that.”


Issue 3: Athlete makes comeback after surgery

By Ashley Hocking

Unable to catch her breath, senior Caitlin Broadwell struggled to hit, set and spike with her usual intensity as a feeling of numbness engulfed her.

Broadwell’s thyroid levels had skyrocketed during a club volleyball game in February 2011.

Broadwell was diagnosed with Graves’ disease a few hours later.

“Graves’ disease…causes the thyroid to over-produce the thyroid hormones,” Mike Broadwell, Caitlin’s father, said. “In an overactive state, it can wreak havoc on the body and in the most serious cases -­ called a thyroid storm­ – can cause heart damage and death.”

She was taken into the care of her primary doctor but was ultimately transferred to Children’s Mercy Hospital.

“We were in shock,” Mike Broadwell said. “We were unfamiliar with the disease and didn’t even know where the thyroid was.”

In Broadwell’s fragile state, she was advised to avoid physical activity for three months to reduce the risk of inducing a thyroid storm.

“It was really upsetting . . . It was during softball season too, and volleyball season,” Broadwell said. “So I was really stressed out and not doing any physical activity at all, so I went home and basically slept because that’s all I really felt like doing.”

For the next three years, Broadwell spent as much time off the court as she did on. Every three weeks she visited her doctor to see if she was healthy enough to play.

“She was not allowed to get her heart rate above a certain level, so she was very limited on activity,” varsity volleyball coach, Stephanie Magnuson, said. “She did a great job of becoming a student of the game while sidelined.”

After having her thyroid gland surgically removed in August, Broadwell no longer has to worry about producing excess hormones.

“I now have hypothyroidism,” Broadwell said. “It means you’re not producing enough [hormones], so you take medicine that gives you lots of hormones.”

While recovering from surgery, the entire varsity volleyball team visited Broadwell in her home bearing gifts to show their support.

“I went to the store and bought her like eight huge bags of candy and gave them to her,” sophomore and teammate Kyleigh Severa said. “I know she was happy to see us when we came and visited her at her house. It was surprising because she was still happy Caitlin, showing everyone her scar and wondering if we wanted to touch it.”

Broadwell will continue to visit her doctor on a regular basis and have blood tests conducted until her hormones have fully stabilized.

For the first few games of the season, Broadwell was still in recovery and unable to play for the beginning of the season. But her commitment, dedication and leadership to the team were not lost.

Broadwell was elected as one of the two co-captains of the volleyball team this season alongside senior Sami Buffalomeat.

“It’s great . . . having another great leader on the court,” Buffalomeat said.

With Broadwell’s health in check for the time being, she returned to the volleyball court on Sept. 11.

“She came back just as strong as she left,” Severa said.

Eight days into her reinstatement, the annual face off with Lawrence High’s cross-town rival took place. With a new-found vigor, Broadwell helped lead her team to a victory over Free State.

“Battling through something and beating Free State in return makes it a lot better,” Broadwell said. “I had to go up a tough road. It was very special.”

From the stands, Broadwell’s parents saw how far their daughter had come since her diagnosis three years prior.

“Given the pain we all went through when she had to basically be sedated for six months, just seeing her out there again was a feeling of being blessed,” Mike Broadwell said.      

Broadwell’s positivity and work ethic throughout her health ordeal has been an inspiration to the members of the volleyball program.

“She is an extremely active young lady and to have that taken away from her was devastating,” Magnuson said. “Her poise through the entire process has been amazing. [I’m] not sure I would have been able to face it with the same positive attitude.”

Choosing to maintain optimism and enthusiasm like his daughter, Mike Broadwell, has watched his family grow closer and stronger.

“We have a shared understanding how good health can disappear in an instant,” Mike Broadwell said. “It puts life into perspective. We often would talk about the other children in Children’s Mercy that were not so lucky. Caitlin has been incredibly strong throughout this process and has been a good example for all of us.”

Following in her older sister Kelsey Broadwell’s footsteps, Broadwell plans to continue her eight year volleyball career at the university level next year. She has committed to the University of Nebraska Kearney.

“My sister plays at Fort Hays,” Broadwell said. “But, we’re in the same conference, so we’ll play each other.”  

After being sidelined by Graves’ disease on-and-off for the past three years, Broadwell has grown to cherish every moment with her teammates and coaches.

“I’m a lot more thankful to be on the court and really not taking anything for granted,” Broadwell said. “I have a good volleyball team to back me up and a coach that really cares about me.”

Issue 3: School mascot costume filled

By Ashley Hocking

The following is an interview conducted with a staff member who took on the role of Chesty.


Q: Why did you want to be the mascot?

A: I always thought that being a mascot is one of the best ways you can represent your school and show how much you care.


Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

A: Seeing the smile of a little kid telling you that you’re funny is my favorite part of being Chesty. Having a little kid who is afraid of the mascot become unafraid and want to give me a hug is an awesome feeling.


Q: How has your perception of mascots changed now that you’ve become one yourself?

A: I see how hard the job is. You have to be a complete different person. You can’t be yourself because you don’t want to give yourself away. Doing that, you have to act differently and you have to be extra nice to people. If they call your name, you have to stop what you’re doing, turn around and pose for pictures.


Q: What misconceptions do you believe your peers have about “Chesty” or being a mascot in general?

A: They tend to think that it’s a girl, but I assure you that Chesty is a “he.” Students tend to think that because I’m the mascot, they can do whatever they want to me; some students roughhouse me, push me around and try to punch me. I’m more or less like a big plush toy. It’s almost as if they know there’s a person in there, but it’s not a person to them.


Q: What does it mean to you to be a “Chesty lion”?

A: Aside from the sports team, you’re representing the school. You’re showing what it means to be Chesty and what kind of a school Lawrence High is. You’re basically representing the whole student body.

Issue 3: Letter From The Co-Editors-In-Chief


Dear Readers,

In the month of October, fuchsia and blush paint the halls of Lawrence High representing Breast Cancer Awareness month.

We believe it is important to cover the topic of “boobs” this issue as it relates to the newspaper’s coverage of Pink Out.

We feel personally connected to this issue’s topic because we both have grandmothers who fought and defeated breast cancer. In fact, the majority of the student body is likely to have a connection. One in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer sometime in their lives.

The Pink Out game was established as a tradition at LHS four years ago by the student body to raise money and awareness in honor of teacher, Shannon Wilson, who had been recently diagnosed with cancer. Wilson is now a survivor of breast cancer.

As the news article “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” states, the spirit squad has been working with Dale Willey Automotive to raise money for chemotherapy patients’ wigs and mammograms by selling pink bracelets.

The spirit squad launched this project in honor of their coordinator Gwen “Junior” Wedd’s triumph over breast cancer.

While these women fought for their lives, other females fight for their right to show cleavage.

While some women fighting breast cancer often have to endure one or two mastectomy surgeries, it is common for women to criticize other women for appreciating their own bodies and displaying them liberally.

As Nia Rutledge’s opinion article “Nothing is wrong with being a slut” illustrates, it is important to allow women to show their bodies in any way they are comfortable with. But it is more important to avoid the double standard that men have freedom in their sexuality and women do not.

Whether you’re choosing to show some skin to support Breast Cancer Awareness or simply because you’re demanding control of your own body, your peers should allow you the freedom to do so — in accordance with school dress code — in any way you want.


Kendra Schwartz and Ashley Hocking