The Washington Missourian
Just a few weeks into my new internship at the Washington Missourian, I graduated from photographing local events and writing cutlines to writing actual stories. Even though my experience in the print journalism world is limited in comparison to broadcast, my bosses saw potential in me. Having professional journalists enable me to hone my craft and learn new skills has been a priceless experience. Being able tell the stories of the people, places, and events that make my hometown unique has been both challenging and rewarding. Below are examples of recent articles I have written for my hometown newspaper.
Parents of Emmaus Client Build Forever Home for Daughter, Housemates
Washington NJROTC Holds
The Washington NJROTC hosted its fourth Military Ball Saturday night, Feb. 2, at the KC Hall in Washington.
The evening began at 5 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres followed by opening ceremonies, dinner and guest speaker Lieutenant Commander Matthew Coulter.
The program also included a presentation of gifts and scholarships, cake cutting and concluded with a dance.
The military ball focused on the achievements and knowledge the students have gained through the NJROTC program, primarily highlighting the formal military customs and courtesies the program offers. All of the ceremonies were performed by the cadets and replicated those of adult military units.
Cadets in the program attend both Washington High School and St. Francis Borgia Regional High School. There are currently 85 cadets in the non-funded government program, including 16 ladies.
Approximately 300 guests were in attendance at the ball, which is sponsored by the Washington NJROTC Booster Club.
Coulter’s theme of his presentation was “perspective.”
Coulter, a graduate of St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, said he choose this theme because of his experience and how he had to change his perspective multiple times throughout his journey in the Navy.
“Three seconds before you land an aircraft, all you see is pitch black. It was probably one of the scariest parts of my career when I first started. I had to learn to change my perspective in certain situations to make myself better as a person and a pilot,” he said.
Coulter enlisted in the Navy in September of 1997 and began his career at Recruit Training Command at Great Lakes, Ill. From there, he reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla., for aviation electronics technician training.
Once his training was complete, Airman Coulter met up with the USS Saipan out at sea off the coast of Greece.
In 2002, Petty Officer 1st Class Coulter was selected to the Seaman-to-Admiral 21 program and reported to the University of Missouri-Columbia NROTC unit. Four short years later, he left Missouri for NAS Pensacola, for a second time, to complete aviation preflight indoctrination (API) training.
After API, he checked into NAS Milton, Fla., in FIxed Wing Training Squadron 6 where he learned to fly the T-34 Turbo Mentor During basic flight training.
“Flying an aircraft for hours can be exhausting but I had my other comrades to keep me going,” Coulter said.
Coulter was awarded the Air Medal (2), Naval Commendation Medal (2), Naval Achievement Medal (4) and other personal awards. He also earned his Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist, Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist and his coveted Wings of Gold.
Coulter told the cadets in attendance that “You still have a lot of life left to life and you’re going to have to change your perspective to succeed and become a better individual.”
He noted their hometown of Washington will help them be prepared for anything.
Coulter said Washington provided him with the “mental toughness” he needed to succeed in the Navy because of the attitude of the people who live here.
“Everyone here has that work hard ethic and that allowed me to not be afraid when I was in control, making big decisions,” he said.
After 21 great years serving his country, LDCR Coulter retired on Oct. 1, 2018. He accrued almost 2000 flight hour and more than 350 carrier landings throughout his career.
Currently, Coulter is working and The Boeing Company as a Program Management Specialist Lead for F/A-18 training systems. He has been married to Carrie (Bell) Coulter for 20 years and has two children, Izabella and Hunter.
Marine Master Sgt. Tim Gates, NJROTC officiating instructor at Washington High School, thanked the honored guests for their contributions to the program, and noted that “the NJROTC program is a very special program where students can (showcase) their love for their country.”
This is Gates’ second year with the Washington NJROTC, but his 17th year as an instructor. He has taught at five different school in five different states throughout the course of his career.
Scott Grayson, president of the NJROTC Booster Club, thanked his officers and the KC Hall for their contribution to the evening.
This year, the NJROTC Booster CLub recognized multiple volunteers instead of just one. Scott and Barb Grayson, Dave Batson, Susan Zurick, Tim and Tiffani Frankenberg, Tricia Piontek and Sandy Wilhelm were all honored for the outstanding amount of work they have all donated to the boosters.
Honored guests of the evening were Dr. Kelle McCallum, Washington High School principal; John Freitag, Washington School District Board of Education vice president; Sandy Lucy, Washington mayor; Pam Tholen, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School principal; and guest speaker Coulter.
Scholarships were awarded to Cadet Alex Davis and Cadet Braedyn Frankenberg. Both received a $500 scholarship for outstanding performance, outstanding participation and outstanding leadership while serving in the NJROTC program.
Davis, an ensign in the NJROTC unit, plans to study mechanical engineering at the University of Missouri on an Army ROTC scholarship.
Frankenberg, operations officer of the NJROTC unit, plans to study nursing at Missouri State University.
To receive a Booster Club Scholarship, candidates must be a graduating senior with a GPA of 3.5, who has been in NJROTC for three or more years.
The cadets had to compete for the scholarship by meeting the criteria and writing a one-page essay on how NJROTC has affected their future and what the program means to them.
Coulter, retired Navy, Capt. Bob Eade and Matt White served on the selection committee and chose the two cadets as the recipients.
The top sellers of raffle tickets were recognized at the ball. They include Cadet Jackson Piontek as the top seller, Cadet Aidan Taylor as runner-up and Cadet Brady Morgan as third.
The top-sellers received a gift card from the Booster Club.
Also mentioned was the Washington Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association, which raised about $36,000 for the NJROTC unit to help pay for uniforms and equipment.
Race Like a Girl
Every year, Girl Scout members all across America participate and sponsor events to develop leadership skills. To further those leadership roles and engage in a friendly competition, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri held their third annual “Powder Puff Derby” on Jan. 5 at Immanuel Lutheran.
The idea spawned from the traditional Boy Scouts’ pinewood derby that seems to incorporate every father and son in Washington.
“We’ve had girls do the (Boy Scouts) pinewood derby and love it, so we wanted to give an opportunity for all the girls to participate,” stated Dorothy Willming, one of the head leaders of the event.
This year, 133 Girl Scout members from neighborhood six competed in the fun-filled races. The races are organized by the different levels in Girl Scouts and include many heats within each level.
There were seven groups that raced on Saturday: Cadettes, Daisy 1, Daisy 2, Brownie 1, Brownie 2, Brownie 3 and Junior.
For each level there are multiple awards regarding the design, function and overall presentation of the car, along with medals for the top three fastest cars that are awarded to the girls. A special trophy is given to the fastest car overall, and of course, all of the girl scouts receive a patch to put on their vests for partaking in the event.
The event usually takes place in the Washington West Elementary gymnasium, but this year, Immanuel Lutheran’s gymnasium became the ultimate racing arena. Aside from the racing track, the gym included a “pit-stop” where participants could weigh and measure their cars and a “refuel” station where snacks and drinks were available.
At the derby, no two cars were the same; each one displayed its own unique traits. Many participants agreed the process of building the car was the best part.
“It is a bonding experience between a father and daughter because you’re spending so much time together, working to make a car that goes with what you like,” said Allison Willming, a Girl Scout Cadette participant.
However race day doesn’t just focus on the derby itself. It’s a time for the older Girl Scouts to gain hands-on experience.
After the Cadettes race in the morning, they are in charge of the event. Checking in participants, announcing names and judging cars are only a few tasks the busy Cadettes encounter.
“We are the ones running the show, and it really helps (us) learn how to lead,” said Allison Willming.
The race also marks the start of every Girls Scouts’ favorite time: cookie sale season. The derby doubles as “Cookie-Go-Day” so members can begin their sales while having enjoying time with each other.
“It’s almost like a last hoorah for the girls before it’s time to get down to business because selling cookies is one of our main goals,” said Dorothy Willming.
The future of the “Powder Puff Derby” looks promising due to the event’s success and likability in the community.
“(The event) gives more opportunity for girls, and I think it will become bigger because of that,” said Claire Nappier, a Cadette participant.
Win or lose, each participant gained a valuable experience from the derby as young leaders and will use that knowledge in other upcoming Girl Scout events.
Planning Begins for
Children's Relay for Life:
Hosted by Washington High School
The Washington High School Student Council will host its 14th annual Jordan Scheer Memorial Children’s Relay For Life event Friday, April 26, on the high school campus.
This year the theme is “Homeruns for Hope” and will be centered around the sport of baseball.
The Relay is named in honor of Jordan Scheer, a WHS graduate who was diagnosed with leukemia in high school and lost his battle to cancer shortly after his graduation in 2005.
So far, all elementary schools in the Washington School District, as well as St. Francis Borgia Grade School, Our Lady of Lourdes and Immanuel Lutheran have decided to participate in the annual event.
“I’m excited to see the kids who have not previously participated in Relay realize how big of an impact they can make at such a young age,” said Kamryn Mitchell, WHS senior chair of the event.
Along with Mitchell, the other chairs are Matthew Amlong, Lizzy Sontag, Emily Hahne, Elise Pruett and Gracie Boeckman.
Preparations for the April event are already underway. The event chairs are holding assemblies at each elementary school to provide more information and increase excitement.
“We really want to get children signed up and pumped up about participating in Relay,” said Pruett.
Paper chains are also being delivered to every elementary school for students to buy and compete to build the longest chain.
Since its inception, this event has raised over $265,000 for the American Cancer Society (ACS).
This year Mitchell and her fellow chairs have set a goal to raise $25,000 for ACS in honor of Jordan.
“Our main goal throughout this whole event is to raise awareness and get kids involved in the process,” stated Mitchell.
Registration for Children’s Relay For Life ends March 8th.