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SCHS Assistant Principal Travels to California to Experience Marine Corps Training for Educators

by Rileigh Cassimatis

School Publications Staff Writer

Posted April 1, 2017

From sun up to sundown St. Clair High School (SCHS) Assistant Principal Jeff Hamlett spent four days at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot of San Diego, Calif. to get an idea of what it’s like to become a Marine.

“It was a truly great experience,” said Hamlett. “It was really nice to see what it’s like to be a Marine.”

Hamlett heard of the opportunity to participate in the U.S. Marine Corps Educators’ Workshop from Holly Click, a guidance counselor at SCHS who completed the course herself several years ago.  Hamlett asked Sgt. Litto, the Marine Corps recruiter for SCHS, about attending and was sent the paperwork, eventually finding out he was selected to go.

Hamlett arrived Monday, Jan. 30 in San Diego for recruitment training starting bright and early at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning. He was accompanied by 28 other St. Louis area educators, with an equal ratio of men to women.

“I was able to network with other principals from other schools. That will be memorable,” said Hamlett.

Tuesday’s activities included an initiation process called Yellow Footprints, where the recruits learned how to stand at attention and in formation. It was followed by a Chief of Staff welcome, recruit training regiment, Commanding Officer’s brief, mock pick-up, lunch with recruits, swim demonstration, martial arts/ bayonet assault course, obstacle course demonstration and a combat fitness test.

Wednesday the group went to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, had lunch at Bay View, were given a Chaplain brief and met with the Career Marine Panel.

On Hamlett’s second to last day, the group was given a weapons field training battalion brief, went through the final stage of training called 12-Stall, where the recruits are given 12 different situations that the team must figure out and resolve successfully. The group then went through the confidence course and were given the education brief.

The last day of the trip was spent loading luggage, watching the Morning Colors ceremony, eating brunch, saying farewell and finally watching a graduation.

One of the most memorable moments according to Hamlett was when he took a picture with a Marine whom he’d had lunch with one day. The Marine had just successfully finished the Crucible, a rigorous three-day survival hike through the mountains, and was in the dining hall enjoying his first real meal after passing the test.  Hamlett sent the photo via text to the Marine’s father, who had not had any contact with his son during the 12 weeks of his training. Hamlett said the father was very grateful for the kind gesture and that he was happy to know that his son had successfully completed the Marine training and would graduate the following week.

“Actually seeing the intensity of what the Marines have to do (durin
g) recruit training, to see what their 12 weeks looks like, is pretty intense,” Hamlett said.

Dierker Named South Central District Student Council Advisor of the Year

by Samantha Kirk

School Publications Staff Writer

Posted March 10, 2017

SCHS business teacher and Student Council Advisor Sarah Dierker was recently named the Missouri Association of Student Councils (MASC) South Central District's high school advisor of the year.

Dierker accepted the award during a surprise party in her honor Feb. 1 when her Student Council co-advisors, Roberta Byers and Wayne Dierker, arranged for Sarah’s mentor and former student council advisor, Amy Schupp, to present the award.

“I’m so proud of her, she’s surpassed anything I’ve done as advisor,” said Schupp, who is now retired from SCHS.

Byers, a SCHS physical education teacher, has co-advised Student Council with Dierker for ten years and nominated Dierker for the award.029.JPG

“I nominated her because she cares so much about this school and the students,” Byers said. “I know how much time she’s put into every event that Student Council sponsors. She does it for the students.”

Wayne Dierker, Sarah’s brother-in-law, said, “She makes things happen.”

Sarah was an active member of Student Council when she was a student at SCHS from 1996-2000 and served as executive president her senior year.

At her surprise party, she said, “I feel surprised and honored, but also guilty. There are three other advisors and it’s a team effort.”

Winning this award puts Dierker in the running for the title of state advisor of the year, which will be announced during the Missouri Association of Student Councils State Convention at Mehlville High School March 9-11.

SCHS Welcomes New Spanish Teacher

by Jacklyn Reitz

School Publications Staff Writer

Posted February 14, 2017

Starting a regular school year as a new teacher can be intimidating, but coming in halfway through can be a whole different feat in itself. Over the winter break of the 2016-17 school year, St. Clair High School (SCHS) had to ask someone to do just that. The school welcomed a new Spanish 1 teacher to help students that were struggling in an online version of the class.

“The online class was kind of a reduction because of the budget cuts that occurred before I came in,” said Jennifer Davis, SCHS principal. “However, the kids weren’t really doing well, and Proposition KIDS has passed. So there was an ad posted on the school website and on MoREAP.”

Once the school sent out the ad, a promising application came through. That applicant was Allison Gray, a woman who was born in Spain and grew up in Peru. Around 20 years ago, she was in university in Lima, Peru, when she found out about a scholarship program for teachers who wanted to work in post-graduate classes in Spanish literature. Gray got the scholarship and came to St. Louis to study at and work for Washington University. Eventually, they asked her to stay and she went through the necessary procedures to become a United States citizen.

“She had some teaching experience and seemed like a really good fit for the school,” Davis said. The school board went over her application and worked with Verdean Vaughan, the school’s veteran Spanish teacher, to make sure she would be a good fit and get the help she needed to begin teaching. Gray was hired at the Dec. 8 school board meeting.


“I actually found out about the opening through the MoREAP website. A friend knew I was looking,” Gray said.

She said that she loves the school and the students and that they’re very respectful and ready to learn. “I didn’t like the way I was taught, so I wanted to change it up a bit and make it more fun for the students.”

So far, the only challenges for Gray have been the fact that she lives in St. Louis, which is a 45-minute drive from SCHS, and that she misses her family in Peru and Spain. She also has two sons that live in Chicago. Otherwise, she is happy and finds the faculty and students welcoming and willing to help with anything she may need. Although she was looking for an opening for the next school year, she’s glad she took the job.

In her free time, Gray likes to read and be active. She goes on walks and jogs a lot. When she’s not doing something outside, she loves to travel and learn about the unique qualities of Spanish culture. “People think that all of these Spanish towns are all the same, but they’re not. There’s a uniqueness in each town,” Gray said.

New High School Principal

Returns to Roots with New Job

by Gabrielle Caminiti

School Publications Staff Writer

Posted September 15, 2016

Growing up on her family farm in St. Clair, new St. Clair High School (SCHS) Principal Dr. Jenny Davis knows about life at SCHS from experience.  Davis’ time at SCHS was spent playing softball and loving the town. But before her time at SCHS ended with her graduation in 1991, Davis met her husband, Dean Davis, and they fell in love. St. Clair has been a place where Davis has grown up and where her two children, Lucas and Emma ,will now continue to grow.

Davis and her family built a house on the family farm in the same place where it had been when she lived there as a child. It has become a place where her children are growing their education and where she did, not only as a child, but as an adult, as well.


Secretaries Janell Talleur (left) and Becky Branscum (right), along with Davis, show off their matching Bulldog shirts on a Red and Gray Day Friday.

¨I was the first person to graduate [college] from my family. Education was very important,” Davis said. Being the first to graduate from college has been a driving factor in her love for education, she said.

When she attended SCHS, Davis said Coach Theresa Clonts pushed her and all the other young women of her softball team to strive for excellence. Davis went on to describe Clonts’ impact on the entire team. ¨There were eight of us that were seniors together. Four out of the eight became teachers. Everyone that came out of that group, came out successful,” Davis said.

Davis was a seventh grade teacher at St. Clair Junior High from 1995 to 2007, and she was awarded Teacher of the Year in 2006 and 2007. Her passion for the St. Clair RXIII School District truly shines when she talks about her town.  

“I went to Union to be assistant principal for nine years and the opportunity to come back home came and I jumped on it,” Davis said.

After nine years working in Union in different positions including as an assistant principal, a curriculum director and a principal, Davis has come back to teach at her hometown high school and is more passionate than ever before.

Her plans for the school are not only for students. Davis said her goals for her tenure as the SCHS principal include, “Building relationships, getting students the support they need and continuing staff learning.”  


Davis highlights the welcome sign at the high school's main entrance.

¨I was excited to be able to come back home. My family has been a big support,” Davis continued. “It doesn't feel like coming into work everyday. I love it. I wouldn't change it for the world.¨

It’s clear that she couldn’t be happier to be back at SCHS and with her plans for this school, positive changes are soon to come.

New Bulldog Superintendent Sees Promising Future for District

by Kate Feddersen

School Publications Staff Writer

Posted September 2, 2016

A library orientation, a pep assembly and a broken air conditioner: this is the situation St. Clair’s new superintendent faced when he visited the high school for an interview last Friday. Though it was stuffy in the conference room, he managed to make a lasting impression as someone who genuinely cares about the people of this district.

Kyle Kruse grew up about 100 miles west of St. Clair in Russellville, Missouri. He attended Russellville High School and was a very involved student, participating in basketball, baseball, band, Future Farmers of America (FFA), speech team and athletic club. “It was a small school and I did basically everything,” he said.

Kruse went to college at Missouri State University (MSU), then known as Southwest Missouri State University, from 1988 to 1992. “I had a great Ag (Agriculture) teacher, and he encouraged me along the way. And along with that I had a great English teacher. With those two together, I really thought that in education someplace is where I probably belonged,” Kruse said. Sophomore year of college he officially committed to being an educator. “I’d always thought about it,” said Kruse, “We had to declare a major and it just fit.”

Inspired by those two former teachers, Matt Biddle and Francis Englebright, Kruse received his Bachelor's of Science in Agriculture Education from MSU, his Master's in Educational Administration from University of Missouri in Columbia, and his Specialist in Educational Administration from MSU. He went on to become an Ag teacher in Hurley, Missouri. While there, he started an Ag program and created a new FFA chapter for Hurley High School. He then moved to become first an Ag teacher, then a principal at Linn High School, where he remained for ten years. After that, Kruse served as the New Haven superintendent for 12 years. He will continue his career at St. Clair as a superintendent, not an Ag teacher. “As a principal and a superintendent instead of just trying to help the 60 kids that I would see in the day I can hopefully have a positive impact on a lot more students,” said Kruse.

Kruse’s family still lives in New Haven for now, but will relocate to St. Clair after his son graduates from New Haven High School this year. His wife Dena is a cardiac nurse practitioner and works in the Heart Clinic at Mercy in Washington. His daughter Hannah is a sophomore at Mississippi State University and plans to become a veterinarian. Kruse’s son Brady is a senior and he plays basketball and runs track at New Haven.

Through having known Dr. Murphy and being the superintendent at another school in St. Clair’s conference, Kruse was quite familiar with St. Clair. “There were always nice people who wanted to do the right thing for students. I was glad to get a chance to be a part of this district,” he said.

St. Clair has presented a unique set of challenges for Kruse. Primarily, the district is considerably bigger than that of New Haven and is facing some fiscal issues at this time. Luckily, Kruse boasts a strong background in school finance. He helped write the curriculum for the school finance graduate classes that he teaches at William Woods University, making him a good candidate to aid in St. Clair’s financial issues. He was part of helping New Haven go one to one, much like St. Clair’s technology-leading district.

Though Kruse has only been a part of the district for a short while, the area has already made a lasting impact on him. “It’s a good school district, but the best thing is that our teachers really care about the students and our families really care about their kids and my impression so far is that our students are ready and willing to learn. They want to do well, and that’s exciting,” said Kruse.

The district has also already benefitted from Kruse’s term as superintendent. He has high hopes for the district now that the new tax has passed. “Our community really stepped up and supported our school. We’re so grateful for that,” Kruse said, “It’s such a tremendous thing when a community steps up to take care of its kids.” He plans to institute a competitive teacher salary to help keep great teachers at St. Clair. He also would like to be able to fix some facility issues in the district, as several buildings have roofs that leak and air conditioners that don’t work properly. “I hope we can keep the momentum and actually increase how effectively we can use technology to learn,” he said, “I work towards high student achievement because when (the students) do well, the whole community does well.”

Within the next few years Kruse hopes to continue to improve student achievement. “I think we're on an upward track,” he said, “I would like the district to become a model for the area.” Kruse strives for success in the student body, saying that he hopes to promote success in the classroom, in other school activities, and in life after school. “That’s really what matters,” he said.

High School Counselor Named

South Central Region's Guidance Counselor of the Year

by Nissa Krier

School Publications Staff Writer

Posted May 10, 2016

St. Clair High School (SCHS) Guidance Counselor Holly Click now holds the title of South Central Region Guidance Counselor of the Year. She was nominated anonymously by someone in the district, and her name was amongst many other counselors in the region that were voted on by the South Central Division Team (SCDT).

Any counselor can be nominated for the honor, and Click was notified by the St. Clair R-Xlll School Board on March 23 that the SCDT had chosen her to be the South Central Region Guidance Counselor of the Year.  


Jena Carroll has worked alongside Click since she began working as a counselor for SCHS in 2008. Both of the women take on the laborious job of tending to the individual needs of students that range from creating schedules to guiding them emotionally.

“She’s willing to help anyone,” Carroll says of her coworker. When Carroll began her job as a school counselor, Click helped her with all of her training. “She’s an incredible mentor.”

Click received her award at a restaurant in Rolla called Penelope’s, where a meeting for all the counselors in the South Central District was held. Richard McCoy, the president of the South Central Missouri School Counseling Association, gave the award to Click. “It makes you feel appreciated,” Click said.    

SCHS Guidance Counselor Holly Click

St. Clair Superintendent Receives

South Central Region Award

by Justis Powell

School Publications Staff Writer

Posted April 14, 2016

Dr. Michael Murphy, superintendent of the St. Clair R-XIII School District for the past 12 years, traveled to the Lodge of the Fours Seasons on March 31 to receive the Pearce Award, which is awarded to the superintendent of the year in each of the state’s eight regions.

Murphy received the award for the South Central Region of Missouri. The award is presented by MASA, the Missouri Association of School Administrators. The award is peer-nominated, meaning that Murphy was nominated by one or more fellow superintendents. Overall, there were about 65 nominations from the South Central Region.

According to the MASA website, Pearce Award recipients receive a $500 scholarship for their district and a $500 scholarship to give to a student of their choice in their district.  

“I was honored and excited… for others to recognize my work,” said Murphy.


Murphy identifies himself as a “pioneer in digital learning.” Murphy went on to say that this is possibly why he was nominated. He explained that he provides an opportunity for students to excel through quality teachers, by building a culture of adult learning and by integrating digital learning into everyday life in the St. Clair R-XIII School District.

Murphy (right) receives the Pearce Award from MASA

President Scott Downing.

Following his acceptance of the Pearce Award for the southern region, Murphy qualified for the Superintendent of the Year Award.

“I want to make sure to thank everyone who has made it possible for me to accept this award,” said Murphy.

Dr. Paul Ziegler from the Northwest R-I District in the Greater St. Louis Region received the Superintendent of the Year Award.

New FACS Teacher Creates Family Atmosphere

by Gabrielle Caminiti

School Publications Staff Writer

Posted March 14, 2016

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St. Clair High School (SCHS) has welcomed many changes in the past few years. Between new teachers and new programs, SCHS has grown into the kind of family atmosphere that most kids thrive in, and Kristy Larue, the high school’s new Family and Consumer Science (FACS) teacher,  is another addition that is helping this evolution.   

Growing up Larue meant that she had the kind of family that was extremely supportive, and Larue loves to implement that kind of learning in her classroom.

One look into the FACS room and it may seem like pure chaos, but stay a minute and it will be evident that the kids are not only loving and appreciate the time she gives to each and every one of them, but the students are putting in an immense amount of work. Larue spends every minute she can with her students, and that is evident the more time spent with her. 

“The students that I know depend on me for support and interaction they may not get otherwise,” Larue said. She added that this is one of the reasons she is truly motivated to come in every day and teach.  

Larue said she is aware that not every student comes from a supportive and loving family like hers, so she does her best to make sure that every student that walks into her classroom knows that she is there for them. That is apparent when talking with any of her students.

Ryan Grivetti, a junior in Larue’s 4th hour Nutrition and Wellness class, says, “The attitude she has is very positive. It makes me feel like I can do anything.”  It is clear that she has a positive impact on all of her students. 

When walking into her class it is truly all smiles and laughing, but don’t think there isn’t focus.

“I have high expectations, but as long as you’re willing to work hard I’m easy to get along with,” said Larue. 

Projects and work in Larue’s classes can be purely independent, but she is always there to keep the peace and the work moving forward. There is never a time that she will let students slack off, but this doesn’t mean her class is uptight or boring. She always seems to put a positive spin on work or projects that could otherwise be less than 009.JPG

Natalie Click, a sophomore in Larue’s 7th hour Sewing and Apparel II class said, “We do a lot of charity stuff. We made pillowcases, [and] teddy bears for the ambulance shed to give to kids when they get hurt,” she added. “This is probably my favorite hour of the day,”

Senior Alley Lashley, who is in Larue's 7th hour with Click, said, “She doesn’t make you feel like she’s over you.” Lashley, who also cadets for Larue, added, “Her classes are less about what’s in the book [and] more about what life is really about.”

In Larue’s classroom, all seem to have a place where they really fit in. Her students say while that they may be doing work, they also have built the kind of family environment where work seems more like play.

1:1 Learning Lures New Teacher to SCHS

by Desirae Turner

School Publications Staff Writer

Posted Feb. 25, 2016

The idea of teaching in a 1:1 digital environment is what prompted Tyler Helton, a new biology and physical science teacher at St. Clair High School (SCHS), to apply for his first teaching job in St. Clair.

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“I applied for numerous reasons but one thing that stood out in St. Clair is that it is one to one. Everybody had a Chromebook. Internet is important,” said Helton.

“My favorite thing about teaching is daily getting to interact with students and helping them to be successful with whatever they choose to do in life and to share my passion for science, “ Helton said.. He not only inspires his students on a daily basis, but he himself was also inspired to do what he does.

“My uncle inspired me to start teaching. I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps. I realized at a very young age that I was interested in science, “ said Helton. His uncle is now a school administrator.

Helton plans to go back to school to get a graduate degree, but for now he stays busy teaching and sponsoring the St. Clair FFA Trap Team and occasionally helping out with a local bowling league.

The new SCHS teacher graduated from the University of Missouri in 2015. Although, he did have to overcome some obstacles as he paved his road to success. “I would have to say the toughest obstacle that I’ve had to overcome was the atmosphere from high school to college. The teaching style is a lot different in college, which caught me off guard, “ Helton said.

Helton is beloved by many students here as they embrace his way of teaching and his passion for student success. He has been welcomed into the SCHS family and is now a proud, fierce Bulldog.  

New English Teacher Enjoys First Year of Teaching at SCHS

by Gabrielle Caminiti

School Publications Staff Writer

Posted Jan. 29, 2016

For some individuals, it’s sports, hobbies or just simply being around the people they love that puts a smile on their faces every day. For new English teacher Erica Robertson, smiling means teaching. “Every single day, I laugh,” said Robertson.

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Aside from the caring environment Robertson says she has witnessed at St. Clair High School (SCHS), another reason she loves her job is the personal learning she’s done in her first year of teaching. “Every single day something happens that inspires me or helps me grow as a person,” she said.

Robertson has learned that every group of students is different. She is slowly but surely learning the balance between work and home life. But, she still has the mindset to push forward, knowing that one day she could be the inspiration to a student that one of her teachers in high school was for her.

In a journalism class in Robertson’s last three years of high school, she met the woman that would really inspire the path that she would take. “She was there for me when I felt like I had no one else, she took the time to help me with college applications because no one in my family had ever gone,” Robertson said

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  She connected with that teacher and found not only her drive for bettering her education, but a life-long friend. “If I could inspire at least one of my students in the way she inspired me, I’d know I’ve done what I really want to do. I want to be the one person that somebody looks up to,” Robertson said.

     One thing that anyone who has had any sort of conversation with Robertson can agree on is that this is where she was meant to be. Not only is she a great teacher, but she is a great addition to the SCHS family.

SCHS Math Department Takes on SEMO

by Nissa Krier

School Publications Staff Writer

Posted Dec. 12, 2015

Four math teachers from St. Clair High School (SCHS) took a much-anticipated trip to Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) on the weekend of Nov. 21. This was their second year of going together to revisit the college they all graduated from. SCHS math teachers Melissa Krimmel, Anna Trautman, Wayne Dierker and Nicole Wink traveled to Cape Girardeau together.

The tradition started last year when the department decided to visit Trautman’s son, who was then a freshman at SEMO. The group had so much fun that they decided to make it an annual trip.

This year, the teachers were excited to sign the inside of The Dome, an alumni tradition they were happy to be a part of. Other things on their to-do list were shopping, eating at Red Lobster and visiting with 2014 SCHS graduate Aaron Trautman, who is in his sophomore year of college now. “It was a great bonding experience,” Krimmel said.

The instructors said they also look forward to running into former students and reminiscing about their past days at SEMO. “It brings back a lot of good memories,” Krimmel said.

New High School College Advisor

Helps Students Pursue their Dreams

by Kate Feddersen

School Publications Staff Writer

Zack Martin, St. Clair High School’s (SCHS) new college advisor, knows what it’s like to be a small-town high school student with big dreams.

Martin grew up in southern Missouri near West Plains on a farm 20 minutes from the Arkansas border. He attended Willow Springs High School and graduated in 2010. Voted Most Involved his senior year, Martin participated in 17 clubs and organizations including Pep Club, Spanish Club, Letterman, Relay for Life, Quiz Bowl, Yearbook, school newspaper, and was an anchor for the school news.

Martin said his journalism teacher, Mr. Spence, made a great impact on his life. “He was very encouraging of me going out and trying new things. He pushed me to branch out of the small town environment,” he said.

He attended Missouri State-West Plains for one year, then transferred to the University of Missouri (Mizzou) for their journalism program.  Eventually, he changed his major from journalism to geography.

While at Mizzou, Martin worked for the University as a tour guide, desk staff at the Office of Visitor Relations, and was on the staff at the campus bookstore. He became interested in college advising after learning about it from some of the other campus workers. Martin found that he really enjoyed the environment of the university and wanted to explore college advising more so he could meet new people while doing something that he loves.

After four years at Mizzou, Martin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography in May 2015. “Graduating from high school is great, but graduating from college is so satisfying. So much more work goes into college,” he said, describing what he calls his defining moment.

Martin’s college advising career started in July 2015. SCHS is the first school in which he has served as a college adviser. Martin is a part of the college advising program at Mizzou, and will only be at SCHS for two years.

Martin could take up a career in something totally different. “I’m still not sure what I want to be,” he said.

When he’s not guiding students’ college decisions, Martin enjoys long walks and hikes through state parks. While at Mizzou he frequented the Katy Trail in Columbia. He likes nature so much because it reminds him of home, he said.

As for advice to students, Martin offers this: “Do what interests you and do what you feel like you should be doing. I’m here to help with college, but I understand that doesn’t appeal to everyone. Do what you think is best for you,” he said.

Bulldog Grad Returns Home

to Teach at SCHS

by Kate Feddersen

School Publications Staff Writer

Alicia McDaniel, a new business teacher at St. Clair High School (SCHS), is a Bulldog at heart. McDaniel grew up in St. Clair and graduated from SCHS in 2002. She always knew that she wanted to be a teacher because of the great experiences she had as a student at SCHS. McDaniel participated in Key Club, Pep Club, History Club, National Honor Society and softball. She took what turned out to be her favorite class her senior year, Civil War taught by Mr. Burke.

McDaniel said that teachers like Mrs. Gasaway, Mr. Burke and Mr. Prichard gave her the inspiration to always try her hardest. “They were compassionate about their jobs. I realized that they were here for a reason; they were here for the students,” McDaniel said.

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Originally thinking that she wanted to teach history, McDaniel attended East Central College before transferring to Central Methodist University. But her vision changed as she went on to attend Missouri Baptist University in order to receive a master's degree in teaching and business. “I wanted to be there for students and to inspire them like my teachers inspired me,” McDaniel said.

Graduating with her master’s in business was McDaniel’s defining moment, and it will always stand out to her. “That was when I realized that I wanted to attend many more graduations,” she said. Only now she attends them as a teacher and not a student.