2017 Year in Review
December 22, 2017
2017 has been a great year for all things Spartans! From drama to sports to support of fellow classmates, Pleasant Valley students have really shown how “committed to excellence” they really are! Here at the Spartan Shield, we wanted to take the time to highlight these big moments for Pleasant Valley High School, and to compile them into a great recap before we move into the new year. Please enjoy these Year in Reviews for News, Arts and Sports, and we hope that you keep supporting Pleasant Valley High School in 2018.
While days and months came and went, PV saw some of its biggest moments happen right before the eyes of Spartan students and staff. In addition to bringing in another new freshman class, the first semester produced yet another impressive start for Spartan Nation. Follow along with this article to reexperience some of the ideas, achievements, construction and the unbreakable community created within the walls of Pleasant Valley during 2017.
With a new year, big changes are always presented. In some ways, some of this year’s occurrences were quite literally groundbreaking. Students faced their own hardships this year with parking adjustments and the strict ban of backpacks in classrooms and hallways. Each issue seemed to place a toll on student logistics. However, buzz and excitement continues to grow throughout the Pleasant Valley hallways with the opening date of the new student center inching closer. This student center is just a small part of the long term construction, also including a new three-story tower with three state of the art science labs and a new auxiliary gym. This expensive construction project will enhance the lives of students and staff for years to come.
This year, Pleasant Valley added another impressive list of all-state musicians, record-breaking team and athlete performances and notable academic accomplishments to its resume. Earlier this fall, senior Klaus Storl-Desmond was recognized for the mark he made nationally on science with his mathematical method which tracks projectile motion. With his developments, Storl-Desmond caught the eye of NASA, taking his research to a national level. Other students proved to be very impressive as well, including the five seniors earning spots as National Merit semi-finalists: Laura Brown, Vivek Joshi, Konnor Sommer, Vishwajit Subramanian and Sophia Xiao. Eight additional Pleasant Valley seniors were commended for their scores. Representing the Spartan Shield this fall, seniors Anna Banerjee and Vivek Joshi took third and first place, respectively, in the competitive Iowa High School Press Association on-the-spot article writing contest. This year’s academic achievements were not limited to individual students. As a whole, Pleasant Valley High School was one of the three Iowa high schools included in the AP district honor roll, with a large percentage of AP students scoring a three or higher.
Although there is much to be proud of this fall at Pleasant Valley scholastically, perhaps the most impressive students were the ones who displayed extreme toughness and grit. This fall, one of Spartan Nation’s youngest students, Will Kohn, finally received the new heart he and his family had been anxiously awaiting. While the community has continued to rally around Kohn throughout his journey, the young boy has displayed extreme determination in undergoing countless major surgeries. After several months at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, the Kohns were able to bring Will home and are overjoyed to say they’ll celebrating the holidays and ringing in the new year as a family in their Bettendorf home.
In the halls of the high school, sophomore Parker Kress has been recovering from a battle of his own. After fighting Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare type of cancerous tumor, and undergoing an amputation to his right leg in March, Kress has been quite successful on his road to recovery and normality. Through intense physical therapy, Kress was able to do something he originally thought would never be possible: return to the sport he loved. This winter, Kress tried out for and made the sophomore boys’ basketball team, displaying true Spartan grit and perseverance. Kress played in his first high school basketball game this December, surrounded by his countless supporters and family.
Pleasant Valley students and staff looked to rally around other important causes to reach a common goal of acceptance. Earlier this year, the Pleasant Valley administration publicly addressed students regarding travel ban threats by President Trump and the Charlottesville riots that occured in August. When the new school year started, Principal Mike Zimmer continued to make the Pleasant Valley High School a safe community, emphasizing the need for inclusion, regardless of religion, race, gender, disabilities and other factors. In recognition of the Pleasant Valley Sparkles and Stars as well as the UNITE club, the high school was awarded with the national Varsity Brands’ “Most Inclusive” award.
While PV was being recognized for its outstanding inclusive environment, women around the world and in the Pleasant Valley hallways gathered to unite to combat sexual harassment and assault. Many of the women at Pleasant Valley high school joined the national movement fueled by two words: “Me Too”. Through the promotion of strength and safety for all women, the Girls Learn International student club as well as other students targeted these issues head on in the fight for gender equality in all aspects. In contributing to overall women’s advocacy, leaders and members of GLI attended the local Fearlessly Girl event put on by tennis superstar Madison Keys. There, leaders were able to talk about the club’s mission and received the coveted national Instagram Kindness award.
The district as a whole continued the spirit of kindness through one of the biggest victories of the year: winning the Quad City Student Hunger Drive. Spartan Assembly students led the community this fall in collecting over 60,000 pounds of food which was given to the River Bend Foodbank. The month of giving included multiple restaurant events, trick-or-treating for cans and the well fought battle of the high school’s teachers to see who would be crowned as Spartan Survivor, a title that English teacher Maureen Dyer eventually claimed.
With big victories come heartbreaking losses. Perhaps no loss was more heartbreaking than that of Pleasant Valley’s own staff member, guidance secretary Kay Kaiser. After battling ovarian cancer for over six years, Pleasant Valley students participated in one last hat day this September to pay tribute to the beloved faculty member. Students and staff continue to display Kaiser’s positive spirit in her remembrance as students around the school have contributed to aid ovarian cancer research, combatting future fights to come. With the help of Spartan Assembly, students were able to put their handprint in the main hallway, leaving their mark on 2017 and a positive cause.
With all of the positives that occurred this year, the students and staff in the Valley only look forward to the bigger and better things to come in 2018. The Spartan Shield Online staff wishes you the best in the new year!
Arts and Entertainment
With 2017 coming to an end, here at the Spartan Shield, we would like to look back on the year, and recognize the big moments for Arts and Entertainment for 2017.
Starting in January, Pleasant Valley Drama students competed in Large Group Speech. This event is put on by the IHSSA, in which kids can compete in events such as group improv, ensemble acting, group musical theatre, television news, or even radio news. Last January, two of the improv teams (WACIT and Hatrick) as well as the Spring Awakening Musical Theatre event (All That’s Known) were recognized with the highest honor in speech: All State Recognition. These Spartans had the privilege of performing at Iowa State University. While this was in Large Group Speech, Pleasant Valley also had the honor of being represented in Individual Event Speech at the All State level. Senior Maaz Ahmed achieved All State status in Solo Improvisation, performing at the University of Northern Iowa.
Continuing into February, Drama Students also had the opportunity to perform 12 Angry Jurors, a new vision of the classic play 12 Angry Men. This production, directed by Francis Dunbar, was immensely successful, and was truly a revitalization for this play. “I wanted to create this wonderful production, but allow anyone of any gender to be a part of it,” says Dunbar, “My wife is a lawyer so I really enjoyed discussing the logistics of what would actually go on in the deliberation room.” The student involved with the play won many of the performance awards at the Pleasant Valley Drama Awards, including Best Leading Actress, Best Assistant Director, and Best Stage Manager.
Moving into the spring, the annual District Band Festival was held at the iWireless Center. Ever since the Pleasant Valley Band Program has exceeded 800 students, this massive concert has had to move locations from the Pleasant Valley High School Gym to the now renamed Taxslayer Center. Not only does this concert feature each band in the entire Pleasant Valley School District, but it also features one song played by every single PV Band student: America the Beautiful. This massive work concludes a truly impressive concert, from sixth grade to seniors.
The end of April also featured another play done by the Pleasant Valley Drama Club: Leaving Iowa. This comedy focused on a young man looking back on his family road trips while trying to find a place to spread his father’s ashes. This heartwarming production was very close to director Bill Myatt’s heart. “This family is basically my family,” says Myatt, “And I know that there’s something for everyone in it.”
Moving into the summer, Thespians had the wonderful opportunity to attend the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln Nebraska. However, while the Drama Department attends this festival every year, this year was a truly special experience for those who attended. In the previous fall, Pleasant Valley’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was selected to be performed at the International Thespian Festival. This was an incredible honor, as students were able to perform their work in front of thousands of Thespians around the world, and it was a unique experience for all that performed.
In July, two choir students (Roshni Nair and Megan Maloney) had the privilege of attending the Iowa All State Jazz Festival. These students were ecstatic to attend this wonderful event and had to work extremely hard to attend. The audition process is extremely rigorous, with first round of auditions in which many cuts are performed, as well as some scat solos and improv. After this, recall auditions are posted, and the final list is picked from those lucky students.
August was packed for marching band students, as it was the start of one of the most complicated marching band seasons ever! This year, the band program decided to split the band up into two periods: fourth period freshman and fifth period upperclassmen. This huge change in the Band program made for an even more intense camp, and all of the leaders had to work so much harder with the freshman, as they wouldn’t be with them every day in band like in the past. However, this setup was extremely successful for the rest of the marching band season, and a great last one for the senior class of 2018.
Not only do Pleasant Valley Musicians participate in the activities within the school, but some of them want to challenge themselves by auditioning for the All State Music Festival. This year over 20 kids from Pleasant Valley were selected for the All State Music Festival from Choir, Band, or Orchestra. These students achieved the highest honor for their musical abilities, and continue to work extremely hard throughout the year!
And finally, Drama students participated in the Iowa Thespian Festival this year, winning a myriad of awards, most notably, a first place win from the improv team “The Select Button” and an Iowa STO position awarded to Anna Myatt.
While this year may have flown by, Spartans know that there is much more to come from the talented students of Pleasant Valley High School in 2018.
2017 was an outstanding year for Pleasant Valley athletics. As the year comes to a close, let’s highlight the many sports accomplishments of Spartan teams and athletes.
-Both the girls’ and boys’ bowling teams made their first state appearance in school history.
-Spartan wrestler, Eli Loyd individually placed 8th at the state wrestling meet.
-The boys’ swimming team were district champions last season. The team placed 10th overall at the state meet. Individually, Kevin Burke broke the school’s 100 meter backstroke record.
-This season, The Pleasant Valley Platinum Dance Team were state champions with their pom routine and placed 4th with their jazz performance. Individually, Amy Showers and Caitlin Chrome placed within the top 12 at the state solo competition.
-Last season, the girls’ basketball team were MAC champions and head coach, Jennifer Goetz had her 100th career win and was named MAC coach of the year. This season, Ellie Spelhaug joined the 1,000 point club and surpassed the previous Pleasant Valley girls’ basketball scoring record.
-The boys’ basketball team had two members receiving conference honors. Brian Dayman was named 1st teakm All-MAC and Carter Duwa was honorable mention in the conference.
-Parker Kress returned to the hardwood this season as a member of the sophomore boys’ basketball team. Kress’s battle against cancer didn’t stop him from getting back to playing sports.
-The girls’ tennis team had an undefeated season and were MAC champions, district champions and (for the first time in school history) state champions. Lily Feldman individually placed 3rd in the state, was selected as a member of the Elite All-State Team and won her 2nd consecutive MAC title as well as her 3rd districts title. Head coach, Eric Crawford was named the All-Iowa girls’ tennis coach of the year.
-The boys’ tennis team were district champions and they placed 4th at state. Sriram Sugumaran placed 5th in the state individually while Nathan Wong and Vincent Gnad were 8th in the state in the doubles competition. Head coach, Randy Brockhage was named co-Iowa boys’ tennis coach of the year.
-The girls’ soccer team had many members with individual accomplishments last season. Ellie Kurth received 1st team All-State, All-District and All-MAC honors. Rory Donahue was 2nd team All-State, All-District and honorable mention in the MAC. Both Grace Necker and Ashley McMahon were 2nd team All-MAC, and Julieta Arrieta was honorable mention in the MAC.
-The boys’ soccer team had three members that were named 1st team All-MAC: Camden Glenn, Owen Ward and Andre James.
-The girls’ track team were MAC champions and placed 8th in the state meet. Addie Swanson was a state champion bringing home the gold in the 400 meter hurdles. The Spartans placed 4th in the 1,600 meter relay and finished 3rd in the sprint medley relay at the state meet. Ellie Spelhaug also placed 6th in the 100 meter hurdles and Carli Spelhaug placed 8th in the long jump.
-The boys’ track team were MAC champions for the 11th consecutive year. At the state meet, Arthur Braden placed 4th in the 100 meter dash, Mark Conway was the champion of the 1,600 race while Konnor Sommer finished in 7th, the Spartans placed 7th in the 3,200 relay and 10th in the sprint medley relay. Cody Snyder placed 5th in the discus competition and broke the previous Pleasant Valley discus throwing record.
-The girls’ golf team were MAC champions and placed 6th in class 5A at the state meet. Danielle Henricksen and Allison Miller individually placed in the top 15 for the Spartans at state.
-The softball team won state for the first time in school history. Alexia Lara was named 1st team All-State, Ellie and Carli Spelhaug were both named 2nd team All-State and Hannah Mausser was named 3rd team All-State.
-This football season Arthur Braden became the all-time career leading rusher in Pleasant Valley history. Braden along with Zach James, Sam Hanna and David Mathews were named 1st team All-Metro. Carter Sergeant and Caleb Carius were named to the 2nd team All-Metro. When it comes to district honors, Braden, Mathews, Hanna, Sergeant, James, Max Slavens and Brennan Sarver were named 1st team All-District. Carius, Max O’Brien, Evan Kilstrom, John McGrath and Mitch Richelin were named 2nd team All-District. Braden was also named co-offensive player of the year within the district.
-The Hawkeye Wave took the nation by storm as one of the best collegiate football traditions ever seen. During the Pleasant Valley vs. Bettendorf football game, members of both schools’ fanbases participated in their own version of the Hawkeye Wave in honor of Will Kohn receiving a new heart. A moment of unity in the midst of a competitive rivalry game.
-The Pleasant Valley student section also made history this year with a gender-inclusive frontline. For the first time ever, there were girl members painting their stomachs and cheering on the Spartans from the front row.
-The boys’ golf team were MAC champions and freshman Jack Roemer represented the Spartan golfers individually at the state meet.
-The girls’ swimming team placed 7th at the state meet. Aviana Zahara broke the school’s 100 meter backstroke record, won all of her events at the district meet and placed in the top 10 in four different events at the state meet, including a 2nd place finish in the 100 meter backstroke. Libby Staver also won all of her events at the district meet and placed in the top 10 in all of those events at the state meet. Zahara, Emily Goodman, Staver and Christy Bishop broke the school’s 200 medley relay record, and their time received All-American time consideration.
-The volleyball team also had many individual honors. Brooke Harris was named 1st team All-Conference, 1st team All-Metro, 1st team All-District and All-State honorable mention. Elissa Moylan was 1st team All-Conference, 1st team All-Metro, captain of the All-Metro team, 1st team All-District, MAC player of the year and 2nd team All-State. Kelsey Ruff was named 1st team All-Conference, 1st team All-District, All-State honorable mention and a member of the All-Metro team. Harris, Moylan and Ruff all had the chance to play in the Iowa vs. Illinois senior All-Star game and Ruff and Moylan were named to the IGCA All-Star team.
-The girls’ cross country team reclaimed their MAC title and placed 10th at the state meet. The girls’ cross country team were the first Pleasant Valley girls to be a part of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s new movement celebrating state-bound female athletes: #TicketPunched.
-The boys’ cross country team were MAC champions, district champions and state champions. In their dominant state performance, two Spartan runners placed in the top 10 at the state meet: Konnor Sommer came in 4th and Anthony Pena finished in 9th place. Head coach, Erik Belby was named the Iowa boys’ cross country coach of the year.
As 2017 comes to a close, Spartan Nation is eager to see what 2018 has in store for Pleasant Valley athletics.