Falcon Highlights 2014-2015

Van Horn Announces a New Principal

Current Van Horn Principal Patrick Layden will move into the role of Director of Student Data Management/Residency. Layden has been with the Independence School District for more than 20 years where he has served as a teacher, learning coach and most recent as the principal of Van Horn High School.  He was also awarded the Van Horn High School Teacher of the Year in 2009-2010 and later named the Independence School District Teacher of the Year. Layden received his bachelor’s degree in History/Political Science from Park University, where he also received his master’s in Educational Administration.  He received his specialist in Educational Leadership from Saint Louis University and is currently pursuing a Doctorate from SLU in the same field. Layden is also a graduate of the Independence School District along with several generations of his family dating back to the 1800s. Speaking about his new role, Layden said, "The opportunity to build a new department centered around better and more efficient customer service for our new and returning parents and students, along with streamlining district and state data processes, is exciting for the potential benefits to our district."

Filling Layden’s principal position at Van Horn will be Randy Maglinger. Maglinger currently serves as Assistant Principal at William Chrisman High School. Maglinger, a Chrisman graduate, received his bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri, his master's degree in Liberal Arts from Baker University and his specialist degree in Secondary Leadership from the University of Central Missouri. Mr. Maglinger is married to Jessica Maglinger, a former second-grade teacher at Sycamore Hills Elementary School.  They have three children, Grant (5), Grace (4), and a new baby girl, Greenlee (4 months). When he learned he was chosen as Van Horn's new principal, Maglinger was thrilled.  "It is with great honor and humility to be named the next principal at Van Horn High School,” he said.  “My wife and I, along with our children, are very excited to join the Falcon family.  Van Horn is a great school and I am looking forward to building relationships with the students, staff and parents.  Go Falcons!"

Van Horn students participate in J-Day at MU

On Wednesday, April 8th, journalism students from Van Horn, William Chrisman and Truman traveled to the University of Missouri for J-Day, MU’s annual Journalism Day.   J-Day included class instruction on new techniques for subjects such as journalism, broadcasting, photography, newspaper and yearbook.  With over 1,000 student participants from all over Missouri, MIPA (Missouri Interscholastic Press Association) had a full day planned to keep the students entertained such as a lip-syncing contest and guest speaker Greg Miller (MU graduate) from the popular YouTube channel KindaFunny.com.

At the end of the day students gathered back together for the awards ceremony. With projects submitted by students, each one was reviewed, critiqued and judged. The awards were ranked from highest to lowest in order of: All-Missouri, Superior, Excellent and Honorable Mention.

Van Horn received 30 awards overall with two students receiving the highest of awards.  Senior Desirae Batson received the All-Missouri award in Yearbook Individual for “It’s Our Time” in the Theme/Concept Copy category.  Junior Ivan Alessio received the All-Missouri award in Online Individual for “Utopia” in the Feature category.

Van Horn was represented with 18 students and returned home victorious with many awards and recognitions.  See the list at J-Day 2015 Winners and Ratings.

Desirae Batson - Yearbook Staff

Solo and Small Ensemble Contest

With great pride, Ryan Main, Music Teacher for both Van Horn High School and Nowlin Middle School shares the results from Saturday, March 28th's Solo and Small Ensemble Contest.  

Van Horn had 32 students take part in Saturday's contest in 27 events.  Our students had a fantastic day with their strongest showing in years.  Fourteen students in 8 events will be advancing to state, with students from band, choir and orchestra all being represented.  Last year, 5 students advanced to state in 2 events.

The following events earned an exemplary "I" rating and will advance to state:

  • Vocal Solo: Gibralter Hemingway
  • Vocal Solo: Katie Jones
  • Vocal Solo: Samuel West
  • Vocal Solo: Jessica Bennett
  • Vocal Quartet: Katie Jones, Naomi Kroeger, Brando Garcia, Gibralter Hemingway - accompanist Mindy Holthe
  • Vocal Sextet (freshmen men): Gibralter Hemingway, Nick Tarwaters, John Fenton, Oscar Adan, Sinai Naiuli, Jezreel Seppings - accompanist Mindy Holthe
  • Piano Solo: Mindy Holthe
  • Violin Solo: Angel Grammer

Also, the following events earned an outstanding "II" rating:

  • Vocal Solo: Brando Garcia
  • Vocal Solo: Lauren Hopkins
  • Vocal Quartet: Sam West, Oscar Adan, Evalyn Bautista, Rachael Van Becelaere
  • Horn Solo: Mindy Holthe
  • Violin Solo: JulieAnna Vaughn
  • Flute Solo: Sarah Conner
  • Trumpet Trio: Gilberto Perez, Destiny Henke, Christopher Williams


Listed below are all the students who participated on Saturday.  Mr. Main says "These students represented Van Horn with determination and pride.  Please take a moment to high-five each of them for doing great work."

Angel Grammar, Brando Garcia, Breanna Gamblin, Brianna Durham, Brooklynn Hufft, Cassandra Coffey-Murray, Christian Hernandez, Christopher Williams, Damon Pelto, Destany Williamson, Destiny Henke, Evalynn Bautista, Gibralter Hemingway, Gilberto Perez, Heather Igou, Jacob Cerda, Jazzmin Miller, Jessica Bennett, Jezreel Seppings, Johnathon Fenton, JulieAnna Vaughan, Katelyn Jones, Lauren Hopkins, Madalyn Russell, Mirinda Holthe, Naomi Kroeger, Nicholas Tarwaters, Oscar Adan, Rachael Van Becelaere, Samuel West, Sarah Conner, Sinai Naiuli Jr.

Debate Heads to State!

For the first time in at least 30 years, a Policy Debate team from Van Horn High School has qualified to the Missouri State High School Activities Association’s State Speech and Debate Tournament.  Junior Tristian Stickle and freshman Chloe Trimble defeated teams from Pembroke Hill, Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, Raytown South and Grandview in preliminary rounds for an undefeated, fifth-seed qualifying round debate against Raytown South. Stickle and Trimble won the State-qualifying round against 4th seed Raytown South on a 2-1 judges’ decision, then placed 3rd overall.  MSHSAA State will be held at Missouri State University on April 24-25.

Van Horn Employees of the Year

Classified Employee of the Year

  Lori Jonas, Principal's Secretary


Certified Employee of the Year

                    Michael A. Byrd, Lieutenant

                      Colonel-Retired US Army,

                     Senior JROTC Instructor

JROTC Cadets have a successful Blood Drive

Van Horn High School’s JROTC Cadets had another productive blood drive.  For five years, JROTC cadet leaders have planned, organized and supported Van Horn’s annual blood drive which is a great example of Project Based Learning.  One of the motivating factors for working with the Community Blood Center is the blood donated stays local and makes an impact in our community at Truman Medical Center, Centerpoint Medical Center, Children’s Mercy Hospital etc.   

This year was a great success with 92 donors processed.  Statistics indicate an early positive donor experience results in an individual who is more likely to be a dependable and habitual donor within the community.  This, in part, is why the cadets work so hard to get 16 year old student donors signed up (with parent permission).  Blood donation is an excellent indicator of an engaged active good citizen which is a key element in JROTC. 


Van Horn Wrestling - Crossroads Conference Champions

For the third straight year, the Van Horn wrestling team can call itself Crossroads Conference champion.

The Falcons dominated Summit Christian Academy 78-6, Sherwood 72-6 and Butler 66-15 to claim the league title Thursday night.

“We had the benefit of the other teams not having a full lineup, but I don’t think that takes away from the fact that I thought our kids wrestled really well tonight,” Van Horn coach Jeff Tolbert said.

Tyler Horton (160 pounds) led the way for the Falcons with two first-period pins and a forfeit. Jacob Burch (132), Avery Crocker (152) and Marcos Murphy (106) also went 2-0 with a pair of pins and a forfeit in the three dual matches.

The Falcons improved to 12-2 overall in dual matches.

By The Examiner staff 
Posted Jan. 30, 2015 at 12:01 AM 

Missouri Class IV Assistant Baseball Coach of the Year

Van Horn High School assistant coach, Richie Shust, recently received the Missouri Class IV Assistant Baseball Coach of the Year. The award was presented on January 16, 2015, at the Annual Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association. Mr. Shust is a PE/Health teacher at Nowlin Middle School.  

Cross Country State Qualifiers

Sam Baker and Chase Siedlik 

Van Horn has their first Cross Country State qualifiers!  Sam Baker and Chase Siedlik will compete on Saturday, November 8th in the Men’s & Women’s Cross Country State Championships at Oak Hills Golf Center, Jefferson City, MO at 9:30/10:35. Good luck!

Sam Baker finished in 150th place

with a time of 19:09:64

Chase Siedlik finished in 144th place

with a time of 23:20:00

Speech and Debate Team Place 4th in Tournament

The Van Horn Falcon Speech and Debate team had an outstanding showing at the Winnetonka Novice Tournament, held on October 17 & 18.  After 4 power-matched rounds of competition among 39 teams from 16 schools, the Van Horn team of Charles Ruby and Chloe Trimble was one of only 3 undefeated teams remaining, and after a final elimination round, placed 4th. - October 2014

Van Horn JROTC including Ice Bucket Challenge with Principal Layden and Colonel Byrd

Truman Memorial Scholarship presented to Laura Solomon, Business Teacher at Van Horn

Laura Solomon, Van Horn High School business teacher, was presented the Truman Memorial Scholarship during the weekly meeting of the Independence Rotary Club May 12. Solomon plans to use the $500 scholarship for materials to teach her students about banking and balancing bank accounts. Full-time certified primary and secondary teachers in any school, public or private within the Independence city limits, were eligible to apply for the award.

Tamera Carroll and Dasiah Tatum qualify for State Sectionals

On Saturday, May 16th at the district track meet, Tamera Carroll and Dasiah Tatum qualified for Sectionals.   State sectionals will be held on Saturday, May 23rd at Staley High School.   If they are successful at sectionals they will continue to the state track meet.  These are the first two female athletes to qualify for track sectionals in the last seven years.  Great job coaches and athletes!

  • Tamera Carroll:  District Champion 400, Qualifier 200
  • Dasiah Tatum:  Qualifier Shot 
Van Horn Cadet Selected as Outstanding Cadet by the Sons of the American Revolution

Twenty-nine future Falcons (class of 2022/2023) completed their practice 5K run on April 21st on the track at Van Horn High School.  These young runners will participate in two upcoming 5K races.  The boys will run on Saturday, May 2nd at Bass Pro at the Independence Park Run.  The girls will run on Sunday, May 17th in Overland Park at the Corporate Woods Run.  Both of these races are sanctioned/certified runs. 

Special thanks to the local Missouri Army National Guard; five soldiers brought over two of the M777 howitzers (155mm towed howitzers capable of firing a 95 pound high explosive artillery round up to 28 Kms with precision and accuracy unmatched by other artillery forces) to create an arch of steel to mark the start and finish line for the race. 

Runners were thrilled by the added surprise attraction of the soldiers and equipment.  Each runner received a certificate of completion, spirit beads and a race medal (thanks Coach Winslow).

Thank you to those who showed up to cheer on the Fairmount participants and their JROTC junior coaches.  Also thanks to Rosy Burke, Becca Fondren and Ian Carle--the program coaches from Fairmount Elementary School for allowing Van Horn and Army JROTC to be a part of this special collaborative activity.  The event was a success due to the efforts of many including cadet staff and cadet volunteers.  

Van Horn Cadet Selected as Outstanding Cadet by the Sons of the American Revolution

At a small luncheon in the Van Horn Alumni Room on March 26, 2015, Cadets Josh Ramirez and Aja Marshall, both academic seniors in Van Horn’s JROTC program, received the Lee Currier Memorial Scholarship.  Each cadet received $1500 toward future college expenses.  Cadet Ramirez will attend Truman State and Cadet Marshall will attend the Kansas City Art Institute.

The Van Horn Class of 1964 established this scholarship in memory of their classmate Gordon Leroy “Lee” Currier.  Lee graduated Van Horn High School and started college but was drafted into military service.  He was assigned to the 981st Military Police (MP) Company at Fort Carson, CO where he trained sentry dogs to patrol and detect explosives and was deployed to Vietnam on December 6, 1967. 

On January 31, 1969 —the first day of the Tet Offensive, and exactly one week after his 22nd birthday—Private First Class Lee Currier, accompanied by his canine (K-9) partner, Satch, were guarding a section of the Ammunition Supply Depot at Long Binh, Republic of Viet Nam,  when he was overwhelmed by enemy soldiers.  During the intensive small arms and mortar firefight both were fatally wounded by enemy fire. 

For his valor, PFC Currier was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal.  In June 2006 the new Gordon Lee Currier Jr. Military Working Dog Kennel at Fort Meade, Maryland was dedicated to memorialize and honor Lee Currier. 

Members of the Class of ’64 selection committee attending the luncheon (pictured below from left to right) were Betty Jane Stinnett, Carl Doughty, Howard Russell and Joe Currier, younger brother of Gordon Lee Currier.    Patrick Layden, Principal of Van Horn and Lieutenant Colonel-Retired Mike Byrd, Senior JROTC Instructor thanked the Class of ’64 for showing remarkable confidence and support for these two outstanding graduating student-cadets of the JROTC program.  As part of the scholarship application process each cadet had to write a 500 word essay on the topic: “How participation in JROTC helped me be a better citizen.”

Van Horn's 3rd Annual Science and Engineering Fair

Front row (left to right):  Lauren Hopkins, Mirinda Holthe, Naomi Kroeger, and Arianny Pujols.  Middle row:  Trevor Clay, Destany  Williamson, Destany Walcott, and Elizabeth Terry.  Back row:  Logan Putthoff, Chase Wilburn, Mallory Kneece, and Raymond Kistner.  Science Fair Sponsor: Debbie Cox, Science Teacher

Van Horn High School hosted the 3rd Annual Van Horn Science & Engineering Fair on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, in the Little Theater at Van Horn High School.    

To encourage real-world science research, students at Van Horn High School performed long-term independent research projects over topics such as behavioral science, engineering, computer science, math, chemistry, biology, and inventions.  Students wrote a formal paper about their research and presented the paper and a display board at the science fair.  Students were then interviewed by a panel of judges.  This year’s judges included Dr. Brad MacLaughlin, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Instruction, Dr. Jon Loewe, Assistant Principal of Truman High School, Cindy Magnifico, District Science Coach, Deborah Karlsson, Van Horn Learning Media Specialist and Penny Holm, Van Horn Assistant Principal.

Congratulations to the following students who were awarded Grand Prize trophies at the fair:  

  • 1st Place Grand Prize:  Awarded to Mirinda Holthe for her invention project, “The Development and Analysis of a Biodegradable Valve Oil for Musical Instruments”  
  • 2nd Place Grand Prize:  Awarded to Lauren Hopkins for her mathematics project, “Predicting Frequency Using Benford’s and Zipf’s Laws:  Does Randomness Exist?”  
  • 3rd Place Grand Prize:  Awarded to Arianny Pujols and Naomi Kroeger for their zoology project, “Counteracting the Effects of Perchlorate Pollutants on Daphnia magna Using Non-Toxic Antioxidants”  

Division medals were awarded to top projects in the following divisions:

  • Behavioral Science Division:  Mallory Kneece & Elizabeth Terry, “The Study of Zodiac Sun Signs and Character Traits” 
  • Chemistry Division:  Logan Putthoff, “Preparation and Purification of Potassium Chlorate” 
  • Earth & Space Science:  Jonathan Diaz, “Determining the Center of the Milky Way Galaxy Using Globular Clusters and GoogleTM Earth”
  • Engineering  Division:  Chase Wilburn & Destany Williamson, “The Development of an Electromagnetic Self-Charging Cell Phone Case” 
  • Environmental Science:  Raymond Kistner, “The Determination of Phosphate and Nitrate Levels in Water Samples” 
  • Matter & Energy:  Trevor Clay, “The Determination of the Optimal Ratio of a Fluorescent Sensitizer Dye and Catalyst for the Oxidation of Luminol”
  • Molecular Biology:  Destiny Walcott, “The Effect of Varying Buffer Concentrations on the Rate of Migration in Electrophoresis”
Van Horn Caring Communities

Here are two great short videos on Van Horn that were shown at the LINC Commission meeting on Monday, January 26, 2015.  

Check them out! 

FAST Families And Schools Together
Students trip to see Motown the Musical
Senior Joshua Ramirez Nominated for Admittance to U.S. Military Academies

Three ISD Students Nominated by Congressman Cleaver for Admittance to U.S. Military Academies 

Three Independence School District students were honored by Representative Emanuel Cleaver, each receiving a congressional nomination to attend one of the U.S. military academies. 

Two William Chrisman seniors, Franklin Cotter and John Hennessy, and Van Horn Senior JoshuaRamirez were recognized by Cleaver during ceremonies December 18.

Applying for acceptance to U.S. military academies is an exhausting and extremely competitive process. Students must have excellent academics, exhibit leadership skills and have very competitive test scores. The student must apply to the academy itself and then also apply for nominations from their three nominating sources - their district congressman and both of their U.S. senators. The process requires many, many letters of recommendations from teachers, counselors and persons the students know in the community as well as school verification of academics and athletics/leadership activities.  

Madeleine Albright at the Truman Library

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and students from Van Horn High School and William Chrisman High School participated in a 90-minute Q&A session at the Truman Library on Thursday, December 4, 2014.  The student forum was moderated by Van Horn seniors Joshua Ramirez and Taylor Perry and William Chrisman seniors Allie Weston and Rachael Mallinson.  Near the end of the session, Ms. Albright remarked "These questions are absolutely amazing.  I'm so impressed.  I don't think I ever had a better set asked in a very smart way." 

McCoy Award Winners

The following students will be award the McCoy Award at William Chrismas High School on Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 7 p.m.  

Eric Hornig, Madison Dobberstine, Christopher Donnici, Kendry Yates, Tristin Sickle, Nicole Kersh, Arianny Pujols-Mancilla, Avery Crocker, Dennis Hernandez, Richard Marks III, Ana Mojica Mendoza, Karla Roman-Valerio, Samila Sua, Colby Davis, Elijah Reneau, Miriam Castillo, Tymara Price, Angel Grammer, Zebekiah Lityma, Ashlyn Rondomanski, Vanessa Hernandez Muzo, Anika Norfleet, Yoseline Palmas, Skylar Stewart, Kalen Conkling, Cody Storey, Jonathan Moya, Rick Perez, Shannon Pointon, Jacob Richey and Daniel Serres.

Two of our honorees, Jonathon Moya and Yoseline Palmas, have been raised within a Spanish-speaking home and have English as their second language.   Jonathan began his American education at Nowlin Middle School in 6th grade.  This is an amazing accomplishment for these students to be recognized as being in the top 10% at Van Horn High School.  

The McCoy Award was established in 1902 by the heirs of William McCoy, who was the first Mayor of Independence. The award is based on the student’s first four semesters of high school and received in their junior year of high school. 

A Pep Rally Begins the 2014-2015 School Year

Van Horn's gym was filled to the rafters with students and staff on the first day of school (August 12th) for the first pep rally of the year.  This student council lead assembly was a loud success.  New teachers and staff members were introduced.  Fall sports were highlighted and the Van Horn cheer squad amazed the crowd with a great routine to our school fight song and a dance number.  As with each pep assembly, our student body is separated by grade and with encouragement from the cheerleaders, they rattle the gym with school pride.  The spirit trophy was awarded to the group with the livelist and loudest school spirit.   And the trophy goes to . . . the junior class!  Congratulations!    August 12, 2014                                        

Van Horn JROTC Cadets Earn End of Year Awards and Recognition

Thursday, April 23, 2015, 75 cadets and approximately 100 friends, special guests and family members attended Van Horn Army JROTC End of the Year Awards and Recognition program.  This event continues to grow as additional organizations sponsor awards and recognition devices for presentation to well motivated, outstanding cadets and cadet leaders. 

The first part of the ceremony, thirty-four civic, historic societies, patriotic organizations or soldier support organizations presented medals on behalf of their national organizations and membership.  The following awards were presented: 

Vietnam Veterans of America Medal – Cadet Karen Carrete

Warrant Officers Association Medal - Cadets   Seth McGrew, Erick Valencia, Racquel Merino- Hill and Joshua Ramirez

Korean War Veterans Association Medal – Cadet Jacob Martinez            

American Military Retiree Association - Cadet Matthew Harris 

Celebrate Freedom Foundation Medal - Cadet Elizabeth Engle

Military Order of Foreign Wars Medal – Cadets Raymond Kistner and Destiny Marquez

Jewish War Veterans Association Medal - Cadets Mika Lee, Jacob Dykes, Devin Friend and Jose Medina-Jacquez

101st Airborne Association Medal – Cadet Jacob Burch

82nd Airborne Association Medal – Cadet Jacob Burton

Daughters of American Colonist Medal - Cadet Mika Lee           

Daughters of 1812 Medal - Cadet Tyler Sattler

American Military Retirees Association - Cadet Mariah Jones

Order of Founders and Patriots of America - Cadet David Knouse

Military Order of Foreign Wars - Cadet Ezekiel Pedrino and Cadet Cheyenne Engle

Military Family Support Trust - Cadets Emily Ochoa, Richard McDonald and Nicholas Dunlap

Sons of the American Revolution Medal – Cadet Raymond Kistner

Military Order of World Wars Medal – Cadet Jordan Winn

Daughters of the American Revolution Medal – Cadet Jonathan Chapa

American Legion Military Excellence Medal – Cadet Dominick Conkling and Haley Godfrey

American Legion Scholastic Excellence - Cadet Travis Reiley and Brianna Durham

National Sojourners Medal – Cadet Destany Williamson

Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Medal – Cadet Jose Medina-Jacquez

US Army Recruiting Command Medal - Cadet Nicholas Hickman

US Army National Scholar-Athlete Medal - Cadet Tamera Carroll and Cadet Garrett Maurice

Noncommissioned Officers Assoc Medal - Cadet Timmothy Fenton

Association of the US Army Medal – Cadet Zebikiah Lityma

Military Officers Asoka of America Medal - Cadet Matthew Harris

Reserve Officers Association Medal - Cadet Daniela Valencia

Military Order of the Purple Heart Medal - Cadet Anthony Krantz

Veterans of Foreign Wars Medal - Cadet Dominyk Chavez and Cadet Daniela Valencia

American Veterans (AMVETS) Medal - Cadet Aja Leigh Marshall

Retired Enlisted Association Medal - Cadet Jennifer Dominguez

Daedalian Society Medal – Cadet Selena Barron

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Medal - Cadet Jonathan Fenton

Daughters of Founders and Patriots Medal - Cadet Kayla Villareal

The US Army Superior Cadet Medal -  1st year Cadet Brianna Durham, 2nd year Cadet Haley Godfrey, 3rd year Cadet Timmothy Fenton,

                4th year cadet:  Cadet Joshua Ramirez

Van Horn High School was honored to have on hand the following individuals and special guests who made award presentations for organizations or on behalf of organizations:

American Legion Post 21, Independence Missouri:  Phil Greco, George Scarborough, Mike Sweeney, Charles Stapleton, Noel Tyler, Bonnie Sweeney and Cecile Eli

Tuskegee Airman Inc Heart of America Chapter:  Omer Rogers

Westport Camp, Sons of Union Veterans:  Richard Crandell

Sons of the American Revolution Harry S Truman Chapter:  Robert Grover

Military Order of the World Wars: Captain Jim Anderson, USMC Retired

Daughters of American Colonists Slater Chapter:  Marsha Miller

Daughters of the American Revolution:   Jean Liska

Veterans of Foreign Wars:  Nikki Green

US Army Recruiting Command:  Staff Sergeant Travis Turner     

The second part of the ceremony, Mr. Patrick Layden, Principal of Van Horn High School presented the Army JROTC Physical Fitness Awards to the top three male and female cadets.  This award is presented based solely on the score achieved by the cadets on the six-event Army JROTC physical fitness test.  This test also determines which cadets earn the Presidential Physical Fitness and the National Physical Fitness awards.  The six events that make up Cadet Challenge Fitness Test are; 1-mile run, shuttle run, pushups, sit ups, pull ups, and V-Sit Reach.

The top three male fitness achievers were Cadet Logan Putthoff, Cadet Jacob Burch and Cadet Garrett Maurice. 

The top three female fitness achievers were Cadet Jane Naiuli, Cadet Haley Godfrey and Cadet Daniela Valencia.

The last part of the ceremony three cadets were recognized for special achievements.  Each was presented with a congratulatory letter from Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri, Fifth District in recognition of their special achievement. 

Cadet Zebikiah Lityma was selected to attend the eight-day Missouri Boys State.  Cadet Garrett Maurice was selected to attend the Missouri Cadet Patrol Academy, a weeklong in resident training program conducted at the Missouri Highway Patrol Academy.  Both cadets were sponsored by the Tiery J Ford American Legion Post 21, Independence Missouri. 

During the final portion of the evening’s ceremony the Cadet Battalion Commander, Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Ramirez presented individual promotions to several cadets in recognition of outstanding duty performance in JROTC throughout the school year. 

Promoted to Cadet Private First Class - Cadet Truman Ezekiel Pedrino

Promoted to Cadet Corporal - Cadet Tyler Sattler, Cadet John Fenton, Cadet Nathan Lambirth

Promoted to Cadet Sergeant - Cadet Jonathan Chapa, Cadet Selena Barron

Promoted to Cadet Staff Sergeant - Cadet Zebikiah Lityma, Cadet Jordan Winn

Promoted to Cadet Sergeant First Class - Cadet Jacob Martinez, Cadet Haley Godfrey, Cadet Dominick Conkling

Promoted to Cadet Master Sergeant - Cadet Anthony Krantz, Cadet Richard McDonald

Promoted to Cadet Captain - Cadet Garrett Maurice

The final award presentation of the evening was the presentation of the Lee Currier Memorial JROTC Scholarships.  The Van Horn Class of 1964 established this scholarship in the memory of their classmate, Gordon LeRoy “Lee” Currier.  Like many of his classmates, Lee started college but his college opportunity was interrupted when he was drafted into military service.  He completed his basic combat training at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri.  Following that training he was assigned to the 981st Military Police (MP) Company stationed initially at Fort Carson, Colorado where he began to train sentry dogs to patrol and detect explosives.  The 981st deployed to the Republic of Vietnam on 6 December 1967.  On 31 January 1968-the first day of the Tet Offensive, and exactly one week after his 22nd birthday—Private First Class Lee Currier, accompanied by his canine partner Satch, were  guarding a section of the Ammunition Supply Depot at Long Binh when he was overwhelmed by an enemy attack on the facility.  Both Currier and Satch fought to defend their position, fighting bravely in an effort to repeal the attack.  As a result of enemy small arms fire and mortar fire, both Currier and Satch were fatally wounded.  For his valor, PFC Currier was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and other awards.  In 2006 the US Army memorialized PFC Currier by naming the newest military working dog kennel located at Fort Meade, Maryland as the Gordon Lee Currier, Jr. Kennel.

The Van Horn Class of 1964 was proud to award two scholarships in PFC Lee Currier’s name, each valued at $1,500, to two outstanding JROTC cadets; Cadet Joshua Ramirez and Cadet Aja Leigh Marshall.  On hand to make the presentation of the scholarships was Mr. Joe Currier, brother of PFC Gordon LeRoy “Lee” Currier.

Future Falcons practice for 5K

Twenty-nine future Falcons (class of 2022/2023) completed their practice 5K run on April 21st on the track at Van Horn High School.  These young runners will participate in two upcoming 5K races.  The boys will run on Saturday, May 2nd at Bass Pro at the Independence Park Run.  The girls will run on Sunday, May 17th in Overland Park at the Corporate Woods Run.  Both of these races are sanctioned/certified runs. 

Special thanks to the local Missouri Army National Guard; five soldiers brought over two of the M777 howitzers (155mm towed howitzers capable of firing a 95 pound high explosive artillery round up to 28 Kms with precision and accuracy unmatched by other artillery forces) to create an arch of steel to mark the start and finish line for the race. 

Runners were thrilled by the added surprise attraction of the soldiers and equipment.  Each runner received a certificate of completion, spirit beads and a race medal (thanks Coach Winslow).

Thank you to those who showed up to cheer on the Fairmount participants and their JROTC junior coaches.  Also thanks to Rosy Burke, Becca Fondren and Ian Carle--the program coaches from Fairmount Elementary School for allowing Van Horn and Army JROTC to be a part of this special collaborative activity.  The event was a success due to the efforts of many including cadet staff and cadet volunteers.  

JROTC Military Ball 2015

 Saturday, March 21, 2015, over 100 Army JROTC cadets, their dates and invited guests gathered in the main ballroom of the Pavilion at Logan Woods for the annual Military Ball.  The Military Ball is a “prom like” formal dinner, dance and social event serving as the culminating assessment for the cadet etiquette training/instruction included in the Army JROTC curriculum.  The evening is a black tie event for the cadets; gentlemen in their dress uniforms, ladies in their formal ball gowns.  

 The evening began with cadets, dates and guests moving through the formal receiving line in route to their tables in the ballroom.  The receiving line included Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Josh Ramirez, the cadet battalion commander of the Falcon Battalion for school year 14-15, Patrick Layden, Principal at Van Horn High School, Dr. and Mrs. Brad MacLaughlin, Assistant Superintendent Independence School District and Cadet Command Sergeant Major Timmothy Fenton, the senior noncommissioned officer for the Falcon Battalion. 

While enjoying dessert, those present witnessed the crowning ceremony.  Each JROTC class nominated and voted for a male and female cadet to represent their class as part of the Military Ball Royal Court.  Each nominated couple was introduced to the crowd after passing under the Arch of Steel formed by the Falcon saber team.  The saber team was commanded by Cadet Richard McDonald.  Representing the LET I cadets (first year cadet class) was Cadet John Fenton and Cadet Daniela Valencia, representing the LET II cadets was Cadet Anthony Krantz and Cadet Destany Williamson, representing the LET III cadets was Cadet Timmothy Fenton and Cadet Cheyenne Engle, and representing the LET IV cadets was Cadet Josh Ramirez and Cadet Tamera Carroll.

After Royal Court introductions were concluded cadets, their dates, and others present capped off the elegant and tradition rich evening by dancing.

Science Students Succeed at Union Station

Van Horn High School science students won regional awards at the 64th Greater Kansas City Science and Engineering Fair (GKCSEF) on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at The Charles N. Kimball Awards Ceremony at Bartle Hall.  Students qualified for the regional science fair by first winning a division medal at the local science fair held at Van Horn High School on February 24, 2015.  This link will give more details along with pictures.  

2015 Union Station Science Fair Final Results_Cox

FBI (FIRST Bots of Independence) wins!

Congratulations to the FIRST Bots of Independence Robotics team.  They won the Greater Kansas City Regional Tournament held March 13th and 14th for the second year in a row.   This win earns the FBI a spot at the World Championships in St. Louis on April 22nd to 25th. 

If you’d like to watch the final rounds open 



It is worth noting that the FBI was the only returning champion from 2014 and kept alive a 10-year-long streak of having at least one team repeat as KC Champion each year.  We’ll try to extend that streak next year!

Up next for the FBI is the Colorado Regional on March 25th-28th.  Then the FBI will join 400 other teams from around the globe for Worlds in St. Louis.  The team is proud to represent the District and Independence on an international stage.

Congratulations to members of the 2015 FBI Robotics Team:

Chrisman: David Bogue, Ian Coburn, Aimee Dietker, Alisha Diman, Michaela Ebert, William Elliott, Nichole Ginnings, Rachel Ketchum, Madeliene Lyons, Ashlyn Messer, Kaitlyn Waage

Truman:   Lauren Connor, Cailyn Crowley, Shelby Fordham, Eli Freeman, Skylar Fulton, Griffen Leakey, Remy Mathena, Michael Morash, Yvette Rito, Jacqueline Stock, Stevon Sickles, Renan Troy

Van Horn:  Nathan Fikes, Destany Williamson

Coaches:  Russell Clothier, Brad Drinkwater, Jared Hook, Lisa Randolph

Mentors:  Archie Gatrost (CPRS), Nick Green (Honeywell), Marty Morrison (Cerner), Jason Sachan (Cerner), Pete Simmons (CPRS), Lucy Wray (Alumna)

Van Horn Wrestler Qualifies for State

Congratulations to Carlos Cubas for being district champion and qualifying for State at the District Wrestling Meet on Saturday, February 14, 2015 at Oak Park High School.  

Van Horn Students Support Special Olympics

Fifteen JROTC and National Honor Society students raised nearly $1,000 for Special Olympics.  On Saturday, January 31st, these students participated in Polar Plunge 2015.  This "unbearable" event was a unique opportunity to show their bravery and support for Missouri Special Olympics athletes by walking, running or crawling into the frigid winter waters that Missouri has to offer.

These freezing falcons plunged in around 11:15 in the morning. The water temperature at Longview Lake was reported to be 36 degrees with the surrounding temperature 38 with sleeting rain.    

A special thank you to everyone for helping support this unique event.  

Proceeds benefit Special Olympics Missouri’s year-round program of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Let Me Run - JROTC Teams with Fairmount Elementary

On Friday, November 7, 2014, Van Horn's JROTC conducted the Let Me Run partnership practice 5Km run here at Van Horn HS. 

Let Me Run (LMR) is a self-confidence, self-esteem, nutrition and good health habits, general development  program for young men of 4th and 5th grade age.  It uses the sport of running as the teamwork catalyst for social instruction for these young men.   Ms. Burke, a 5th grade teacher at Fairmount reached out to me and asked if Army JROTC would like to get involved...we did.  Four our select cadet leaders volunteered to help with the LMR program as assistant "near peer" coaches for the LMR boys at Fairmount.  These four very dedicated cadet volunteers are; Josh Ramirez, Jose Medina-Jacquez, Nick Hickman and Garrett Maurice. 

For the past 7 weeks  these high school cadets have been working twice weekly with Ms. Burke, Ms. Fonderon and Mr. Carle (all Fairmount teachers).  As stated, we recently hosted the LMR practice 5Km run here at Van Horn...it was a huge success for all.   The 4 cadets will also run with the Fairmount boys during their actual run (the Turkey Trails Run at Bass Pro on Saturday, November 22nd. To pull this event off required the work of many in supporting roles to ensure the boys got across Truman Road safely, cheered the boys along the run route, manned the turnaround point and were at the finish line to ensure each Fairmount runner felt like the true champion they are for having run 3.2 miles!

Special thanks to Dave Winslow our VHS track coach for supplying very nice track themed medals for each runner as a lasting memento for having completed the practice race

This whole thing is very similar to the support and collaboration we did for the Girls On The Run, 2nd semester of last school year.  (GTOR is a similar developmental program for young girls which we again hope to support in the spring semester).

The actual Turkey Trails 5Km race at Bass Pro was on Saturday, November 22, 2014  and all the LMR men (Elem and HS) did an excellent job and finished well.   

Cadet Garrett Maurice (Van Horn Junior) finished 2nd in his age group and 5th overall and received additional recognition from the sponsoring race organization.  

Check out this YouTube video for more pictures.


The Jackson County Historical Society donate to the Van Horn Falcon Speech and Debate Team

The Van Horn Falcon Speech and Debate team recently received a “sizeable” donation from the Jackson County Historical Society. A hand-crafted judge’s bench and witness stand, which will be used for Van Horn Mock Trial practices with Truman Mock Trial students this spring, now occupies the Speech and Debate classroom at Van Horn. The bench and stand were used for local historical courtroom dramas, including the famous Swope Murder Trial, which was presented in 2010. Pictured are attorney Scott Smith, seated, and JCHS Executive Director Steve Noll, who reached out to Van Horn and then reassembled the piece for future use. 

Men's Soccer Head to State Quarterfinals

Congratulations to our men's soccer team!  After their 5-1 win against Platte County they have advanced to the State Quarterfinals.  Van Horn (19-5) will play Smith-Cotton (21-5) on our home field at 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 8th.  Good luck Falcons!

Falcons lost to Smith-Cotton.  The men's soccer team had a phenomenal season with a record of 19-6.