Monday, November 23, 2015

DJ Sokol Class of 1999 : The Life of an Extraordinary Mount Michael Student

Matthew Lee Dugick | In-Depth Editor for THE MOUNT  

DJ Sokol, better known as David Junior to his family, is a name seen on several buildings around town including: the DJ Sokol Arena, which is a student recreational center for the students of Creighton University. But who is DJ Sokol?

DJ Sokol '99
DJ is a Mount Michael alum, who graduated in the class of 1999 and soon his name will be on another building, The DJ Sokol Learning for Life Building on the campus. However it is a good bet most students don’t know much more than the name.

According to his father, David Sokol, DJ had a mind of his own coming out of grade school. He was invited out to Mount Michael to look at the school and he really liked it, prompting him in April 1995 to attend Mount Michael.

After being out at Mount Michael for a couple weeks his father remembers DJ coming home, and saying “Oh my gosh, this is a disaster I should have not made this decision.”
But his parents believed that since he chose Mount Michael he should have to stick it out. Come Thanksgiving break, Da­vid Sokol asked his son if he still wanted to be at Mount Michael. He remembers clearly his son’s response. DJ looked at his dad, “He gave me this unbelievable look which was ‘what are you talking about, this is the best school ever, these guys are my brothers, and my friends I would never leave this school...After four weeks, he was 100% sure this was the place for him.” David Sokol said.

DJ would be a typical high school student, until he began his battle with Hodgkin’s disease. For almost 18 months he would keep this silent from his classmates and teachers.
David Sokol described DJ as caring person who invested himself in everyone else, including less popular kids. He knew they would become more accepted amongst his friends if he hung out with them.

“DJ had two unique things about his personality. First, he was very easy to get to know; he had an open personality and was always more interested in you, than he was himself. He immediately was engaging himself in the other person. Sec­ondly, DJ had the kindest spirit out of anyone I have ever met.” David Sokol said.

There were “numerous” times that the Sokol basement would be filed with five to ten students from Mount Michael that didn’t have family in Nebraska. After many basketball games, DJ would invite the whole team, fans and family of Mount Michael out to his parents’ house to enjoy each other’s company.

He was also a typical student; he had some favorite teachers such as Abbot Michael, Fr. Louis, and Brother Mel. His first two years at Mount Michael he became a better student and was molded to care more about his grades and his study habits. He played football and basketball and admired Coach Kane.

During his last two years he could not play sports so he helped with the football and basketball programs. Especially his junior and senior year his classmates became his broth­ers.

An example of DJ’s love for Mount Michael and his brothers could be seen through his unselfish acts. Because of the chemo, he was weak and could not attend school the day after a treatment session. DJ would ask his mom to help make cookies for all the boarders, coming out to school with a mouth mask to deliver the cookies.

DJ did reach his goal and graduate from Mount Michael, unfortunately about two weeks after graduation he lost his battle with cancer, June 11, 1999.

True to his passion for the school, when DJ went into his last treatment he asked his dad that if he was to pass away, he wanted to be buried at Mount Michael.

DJ was an amazing example of what Mount Michael is about. He was always looking out for others and the betterment of those around him. He may be gone but his legacy lives on. Once A Knight Always A Knight.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Math Team Win's Division; Place 2nd in State Overall; Soo Young Choi Takes 1st As Individual

At the 2015 UNL Math Day, 98 schools and 1523 students participated in the math competitions.  In the PROBE I competition, Mount Michael took first place in their division and second place out of all divisions.  This marks the 10th time in the last 11 years that Mount Michael placed first in their division. Individually for the Knights Soo Young Choi place 1st overall. Congratulations to all!

All Classes (98 schools)
Lincoln East (78.6)
Mount Michael Benedictine (75.25)
Omaha Creighton Prep (70.6)
Omaha Brownell-Talbot (67)Lincoln Southwest (66.2)

Class III
Mount Michael Benedictine (75.25)
Omaha Skutt Catholic (53.5)
Roncalli Catholic (44.25)
Norris (43.75)
Concordia Lutheran (42)

1st Place Individual Probe Test II
Soo Young Choi  placed 1st in the Probe II test at the UNL Math Day.  The Probe II test combines the Probe I exam (25 multiple choice questions) with a 6 question test (they are graded on their work and answer), then they combine the scores to come up with the overall winners and award scholarships to the top ten individuals.  By placing first Soo Young has earned an $8000 scholarship to UNL.  This is the first time ever that a Mount Michael student has placed first.  Jae Jun Park placed in the top ten, twice, in previous years.

Notable Mount Michael individual results out of 1523 students taking Probe I test
Soo Young Choi – 4th place - 1st Place Probe II exam. Wins $8,000 UNL Scholarship
Junbin Huang – 13th place
Jae Jun Park – 17th place
Junho Ho – 24th place
Yixie Chin – 29th place
Zach Cairney – 30th place
Bokai Zhang – 30th place
Min Chang Kim – 38th place

Knights Participating:
Seniors                                             Sophomores
Jae Jun Park                                       Garrett Gloeb
Yixie Chin                                         Lukas Williams
Junbin Huang                                    Nolan Huetter
Min Chang Kim                                Dash Wedergren
Christian Keller                                 Matthew Thiele
                                                          Jack Sun
                                                          Jordan Nguyen
Juniors                                              Leo Li
Shengwei Dai                                    Oscar Dong
Broden Kaps                                    
Zach Cairney
Junho Ho                                                     Freshmen
Jin Seok Jung                                           Soo Young Choi
Alex Earsley                                            Sebastian Esquivel
Ryuta Kure                                              Patrick Collins
Jihwan Shin                                             Leihao Fang
Dylan Herrman                                        Bokai Zhang
Andrew Ahn                                            JP Jensen

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Student Council; Fundraisers and Projects

Student Council President Michael Fischer
with a check for the Open Door Mission

  • No Shave November:  Mount Michael raised $150 via No Shave November for the Open Door Mission.

  • The student council will be holding a canned soup drive starting on Monday, Nov. 23rd and running through Monday, Dec. 14th.  There will be collection boxes in each grade level dorm area. The class with the most canned soup items donated will earn a dress down day during the 2nd semester.  Please support the student council and Operation Others in our effort to serve the materially poor.  

  • The total weight of recycling collecting during the Recycle Bowl was 1665.7 pounds!  Great work!  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Knight Writers Find Fun & Success at National Conference in Orlando

Daniel Jewell, Michael Ecker, Ben Murray, Joe Budd, Patrick Halpin
Ten journalism students from the publications team traveled to Orlando Florida to attend the NSPA/JEA National Convention along with 6000+ journalism students from all over the country this past weekend.  They spent two days attending workshops and keynotes, as well as competing in a write off contest where 2300 out of the 6000+ attendees competed for three levels of distinction in several categories.  Only 721 out of these 2300 were awarded distinctions.  

Joe Budd, Daniel Jewell, Michael Ecker,  and Ben Murray got honorable mentions in the follow categories:
Joe Budd-Commentary
Daniel Jewell-Feature Writing
Michael Ecker-News Writing
Ben Murray- Editorial Writing

And Patrick Halpin took a Superior in Sports Writing which is the highest category.  This is a first for Mount Michael in a national journalism competition.

On Monday Next

"One Monday Next" - More Photos
The Mount Michael Drama Department recently performed the English comedy "One Monday Next".
It is the story of a repertory company which is holding the second rehearsal for next week's play and things are proceeding in customary confusion. The star is in a hassle with her husband, who also plays the part of her husband in the play within a play. This by play adds plentifully to the confusion of the dialogue. The author, of course, shows up to offer his invaluable talent to the poor producer who is a pretty worried guy at this point. He has just been fished out of the orchestra pit into which he fell after a sally with a left handed carpenter and an amateur electrician who switched off the lights. An imperturbable old trouper does her best to pacify all hands, but prospects are not hopeful. There are further maladroit inventions by the carpenter and the stage manager departs in a temper as the remainder settle down noisily to resume the rehearsal. (Description from

Character Actor Character Actor
The Producer (Harry Blacker) Elliott Heineman George Ben Benes
Maud Baron Katie Evans Jerry Winterton Robert Baxley
The Author J. P. Jensen Daphne Way McKenzie DuVal
Avis Clare Cerise Trawicki Jackson Harley Thomas D'Aquila
Mary Manners Kelsey Keres Sandra Layton Alejandra Garcia
Norwood Beverly David Mordan A Doctor Michael Kim
Ambulance Man Jean-Marie Djidjoho Ambulance Man Jeff Prince
Dumpy the Dog Cajun the Dog
Stange Manager Luka Mixan Stage Manager Patrick Fayad
Drama Sponsors Bro. Roger Mangels Drama Sponsor Noelle Kunkel

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Alumnus Jimmy Steier’s Semester in Africa

Ben Murray | Assistant Editor Freelance

Q: What are you doing in Africa right now, and how long have you been there?

A: Right now I am studying abroad for one semester at The University of Ghana at Legon in Accra, Ghana, West Africa. I am primarily taking graduate classes in Public Health. I’ve been in Ghana for almost three months now. My term only lasts four months though, so I will be heading back to the U.S. fairly soon.

Steier catches some rays on a typical fishing boat in the estuary
where Lake Volta meets the ocean. He was a with a group that
was headed to check out how traditional fishermen cast their nets
Q: What inspired you to apply for and go on this trip?

A: Often times I believe we, as Americans, view the United States as the extent of the world when, in fact, it is only a microcosm of the much larger fabric of humanity. I felt that studying in Africa would allow me to achieve a more robust worldview, and consequently kick start my desire to live abroad later in life.There is value in experiencing a foreign culture that is, in many ways, in stark contrast to your own. It gives you a critical eye to your own culture, and it helps you to be more tolerant of differences.
I also have a younger brother, Bereket, adopted from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His roots were a catalyst for my decision to come to Africa.

A view of the Lake Volta near the Akosombo Dam.
Lake Volta is the largest man-made lake in the world.
Q: Where are you currently and where have you been in Africa since the trip began?

A: I have actually only been in Ghana and in the small neighbouring country of Togo since coming to Africa; however, I have travelled extensively domestically, and later this month I will be travelling to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa and, briefly, Nairobi, Kenya.

Q: What is your favorite thing that you have done so far?

A: Ghana is a coastal country so I’ve spent a good amount of time at various beaches. But, my favorite experience was traveling to the north of Ghana and hiking to the largest waterfall in West Africa called Wli Falls. I think it was the most remote and beautiful place I had been in my life.

Q: What is something that has surprised you in your time there?

A: I really had no conception of what Ghana would be like prior to coming, so everything was a surprise in a way. The way school works here is certainly surprising: the University follows the British System (Ghana was a British colony) so almost the entirety of your grade is contingent on one final exam. As a result, there is virtually no work required throughout the semester, which is the direct inverse of the workload at American colleges. This is very conducive to travel, but also gives me a creeping feeling of idleness.

Steier, along with the rest of the students in his exchange program,
most of who are American attended a traditional twinning ceremony
Q: How has this changed your life?

A: I think it is a difficult proposition to put an ongoing life experience into perspective, but if I could give one answer, it is that this trip has spurred my aspiration to travel the world.

Q: What influence has your education at Mount Michael made on your experience?

A: I believe Mount Michael gave me a foundational look into many subjects, which helped to locate my areas of interest. Mount Michael also whetted my interest in other cultures via its international students.

Q What are the people like there?

A: I don’t want to typecast an entire population of people, but generally Ghanaians are friendly and very outgoing—always introducing themselves and trying to be your friend. The words “brother” and “sister” are used to describe any acquaintances; I am called “Oburoni”, a word used to describe a foreigner or ‘white person’ in the native language of Twi.
In many ways, the culture is antiquated, though. Ghanaians are often intolerant of too much deviation in dress or action, and conformity is seen as virtuous. Productivity is also not always at the forefront, as time is not seen as a commodity. I often become frustrated with these differences, but viewing the culture through the lens of Western principles isn’t always reasonable.

Q: What is one funny or touching story that you have witnessed or been a part of?

A: I began playing soccer, or “football” they call it in Ghana, for a semi-pro team. The team volunteers with groups of young boys from low-income families. The boys all want new cleats because they have second or third-use rubber boots. My mom is visiting in two weeks, bringing with her many pairs of cleats and new soccer balls for the boys. I will be very happy to give them the new equipment.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The YouTube Sensation

Brian Schneider | Staff Writer

It is amazing what students can come up with when they live at school, from warball games, to pillow fights, to making videos of popular songs with unexpected dancers. Juniors Broden Kaps and Eric Zhang did just that.

Zhang, who transferred to Mount Michael in the second semester of the 2013-2014 school year, is a studious, kind individual who works hard and tries to do his best at all times. However, a different side came out of him in this video which may have been inspired by his roommate. Zhang is rooming with Broden Kaps this year, and their fun is just beginning.

“Broden is a really good friend. He is helpful and funny and he comes up with fantastic ideas,” Zhang said.

One of Kap’s greatest ideas was to have Zhang dance. Ever since the song “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” by Silento came out, it has been a hit, taking the pop culture genre by storm. However, the dance moves are what made each of these songs so popular.

The Whip is a dance move where the movement consists of nearly making contact between opposite knee and elbow, dropping the knee, and pushing the arm forward like driving a car one handed. The Nae Nae is waving back and forth while walking backwards, which is a continuation of the Whip.
Kaps and Zhang worked hard for two weeks shooting the video.

“We were shooting everyday after study hall for around twenty minutes,” video editor and fellow junior Homer Xu said. According to Kaps, Zhang held off on calling his parents every night to work on the video, something that is normally important to Zhang.

“Sometimes it was hard to not call my parents when we filmed but the video was a good way to relax and get my mind off of studying,” Zhang said.

While the three worked on the video, the hype kept building. “I was excited to see what Kaps would come up with,” junior Joe Coldiron said.

They had to be creative to make the best possible video, using different places inside the school, primarily Zhang and Kaps’ dorm and the gym, Shots of Zhang wearing sunglasses and headphones while dribbling basketballs or hanging his arms around his friends also added a creative aspect to this extremely cheap production, according to Xu.

However, the result is a fairly high quality video. Some of the lighting was just a flashlight being waved around. Xu had the idea to use the flashlight to add a dance floor vibe to the music video, simulating the flashing lights of a dance floor.

Editing also helped improve the visual appeal. Using Windows Movie Maker, Xu made the final edit of the music video in around five to six hours.

Zhang was disappointed when Kaps was not in the video with him, after Kaps told him they would be dancing together. However, once Zhang got into the video and started to dance, he had a good time making it.

Watch Zhang Whip was an instant hit the night it came out, soaring above 300 views in the first week.

Zhang is considering doing another video, but for now he is focusing on more typical evening activities like studying.

 Kaps enjoyed the film making as well, making sure he made time for the video every night after study hall.

When Kaps began to film, he knew right away that the film would not be a serious video. Kaps was inspired to do this video when he asked himself, “What would happen if we made a video of Eric dancing to this song?” The end result made many people laugh, deans included.

“Eric’s whip form is on point,” sophomore Luke Van Haute said. Junior Keylan Beller agreed “The video was very creative and very funny,” junior Keylan Bellar said.

Kaps is thinking about doing another video. However, he wants to keep all of his ideas for new videos a surprise. Perhaps one of these surprise videos will come in the second quarter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Meet the Frosh: JP Jensen

Cade Johnson | Staff Writer for THE MOUNT

J.P Jensen / Photo by Cade Johnson
As the 2015 school year rolls around, the class of 2019 begins their journey of high school. However, Mount Michael isn’t just a school, it’s a brotherhood. This brotherhood is built upon the relationships you make freshman year and getting to know your classmates on a deeper level. This deeper level is what makes the Mount different. Every class has their characters and personalities. The class of 2019 brings J.P. Jensen for example.

Jensen graduated from Saint Margaret Mary in 2014, and has a wide range of interests. He enjoys computers, cars, and game shows to name a few of his enthusiasms. His favorite computers are Apple computers.

“I think personally they’re better than PC’s,” Jensen said. One of his favorite shows is a 1970’s show called Match Game which is a revival of an earlier show called The Match Game from the late 1960’s.

Jensen participates in cross country on the junior varsity team. He chose cross country because, as he jokingly pointed out, he “wouldn’t last too long in football.” Jensen is not a fan of tennis either, although he has played tennis before for fun. According to Jensen tennis “would be a lot more fun when you can hit the ball.”

He plans on trying out for bowling in the winter, a sport he has lots of experience in. Jensen used to go bowling with his mom when he was younger. He would tag along on weekday mornings. In the spring, Jensen will try out for the golf team. His reasoning is straightforward: “I’m not a fan of baseball, soccer, or track.” He has high hopes for the golf season this year.

The transition from grade school to high school can be tough for some people. Especially if your new home is Mount Michael. Judging by the first couple of weeks, Jensen has transitioned well. One of his favorite teachers, similar to the majority of his classmates, is English teacher John Gathje.

“He’s very funny, and makes class fun!” Jensen said enthusiastically. This is not a surprise as Gathje makes the sudden and somewhat intimidating shift into high school a fun experience.

Jensen enjoys being a day student but is thinking about trying out boarding. He especially likes the brotherhood that his classmates and him are building in their first year and hopes it will only grow as his time at the Mount continues.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What to do without Zohner?

Patrick Halpin | Features Editor for THE MOUNT

As students turn the corner heading east into the Science wing they will more than likely hear the enthusiastic voice of Mrs. Zohner (more commonly known as Ms. Z), speaking on and on about the wonders of chemistry. Whether it’s memorizing the periodic table or discussing the outcome of chemical reactions her voice can be heard loud and clear throughout the hall.

Chemistry Teacher Leah Zohner on Maternity Leave
photo by Homer Xu
However, to many students dismay, sometime around September 25 that loud voice and those long drives in from Lincoln will be temporarily absent from our halls. Zohner is pregnant. She is due September 25 and says, “I plan on working until the baby has other plans.”

But the big question people are asking is, “What are we going to do without Zohner?”

Junior Joe Coldiron, is currently in AP Chemistry with Zohner. He says the class is fun but it definitely takes a lot of hard work. “She cares enough to stay late after school and make sure her students fully understand the subject and because she drives in from Lincoln everyday, it’s even more of a commitment.”

A chemistry class without Zohner is somewhat of a foreign idea to Mount Michael. Since 2012 she has been the person to talk to when it comes to her science. However, she says there is no need to worry. Dr. Peck, a friend of Zohner’s, will be subbing in for her during her maternity leave. She has studied general chemistry, forensic chemistry, and inorganic chemistry and Zohner says she is more than qualified to take her place.

In addition to being in charge of all things Chemistry, Zohner has also been the throwing coach for track and field since 2012. But, she has decided to step down from her position this year. She says that she has decided to spend more time with her family considering she has a baby on the way. However, Zohner says she still plans on coming out to track meets to watch her old players compete.

“I really enjoy how many kids get excited about science, which is sometimes hard to find. It makes my job really easy because people actually want to learn,” Zohner said.

Although Zohner says she will not be gone for long, “it will still definitely be a change” Coldiron said. Whether it has been throwing in the spring or learning the basics of chemistry, all students have been impacted by Ms. Z by the end of their sophomore year. Thankfully, she will not be gone for long.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Update for the Now is the Time Campaign:

The DJ Sokol Learning for Life Building, in memory of DJ Sokol ‘99, has been made possible by David and Peggy Sokol along with their daughter Kelly Sokol Avery.  The Benedictine Community cannot say thank you enough for their continued support to Mount Michael Benedictine and the $5,000,000 gift that they have made.

In working towards matching the gift provided by the Sokol family, current sophomore parents Steve and Tammy Reynolds have made a gift of $125,000 to the campaign along with a challenge themselves.  They have agreed to match their gift in one year, if we are able to match their gift 10 times.  This would enable Mount Michael to match the Sokol gift with $1,375,000 if the challenge is met.  Thank you very much, Steve and Tammy, for realizing the urgency behind raising these dollars and helping the community pull together to raise the funds needed to complete the academic facility.  With this kind of support from our Mount Michael family the school cannot fail to soar to new heights. 
- Kimberly A. Volpone Director of Advancement