VWHS Homecoming

 2018 VWCS Homecoming Queen and Attendants

Van Wert High School held its Fall Homecoming during Friday night’s game against Shawnee, a game the Cougars won 39-6 for its second Western Buckeye League win of the year. Shown above is Homecoming Queen Noelle Heffner (center) with senior attendants Adrianna Grothause (left) and Arianna Adkins. Below, longtime Cougar athletic booster Mike Pettijohn, who was grand marshal of the Homecoming Parade on Wednesday, was also honored during Homecoming ceremonies at Eggerss Stadium. photos by Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

 Mike Pettijohn honored at VWCS Homecoming

8th Grade Cougar Leaders Visit Central Insurance

Van Wert Middle School’s 8th grade Cougar Leaders visited with their community partner, Central Insurance Companies, on Wednesday, September 19th. Central’s President, Bill Purmort, spent over an hour with students discussing what leadership means and the qualities of a strong leader. The day ended with a question-and-answer session, engaging the students and allowing discussion amongst the group.

 Central Insurance is an integral part of the VWMS 8th Cougar Leader program. As they enter their third year as community partners, Cougar Leaders can expect Central employees belonging to the Central Cares Committee to participate in a variety of events throughout the school year, including monthly student meetings, luncheons, and mock interviews.

Annual Scholarship Dinner This Friday!

Before the next home game, the Scholarship Tailgate Party will be hosted by the Van Wert Federation of Teachers. They will be serving Brats, Burgers, and Hot Dogs along with baked beans, potato salad, applesauce, chips, and desserts. 

The Supper will be on Friday, September 21 from 4:30-7:00 in the Goedde Building Gymnasium. Proceeds benefit scholarships given to high school seniors. The Cost is  $7.00 for Adults; $4.00 for 10 and under. Tickets available at the door. 

VWHS Theatre Announces 2018-2019 Season

Van Wert High School Theatre Department is excited to announce our 2018-2019 season. Our fall play production of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, will be performed at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 7:00 p.m. Rehearsals will begin in September and students are looking forward to sharing this story, which continues to capture the hearts of readers. Originally written in 1868 by Alcott, this play version adapted by Scott Davidson allows the audience to meet the March sisters as they grow up and walk through life’s experiences. Little Women will warm your heart when it takes the stage in November. Tickets ($6) will be available from cast and crew members, the NPAC Box Office, and at the door. Little Women is produced with special arrangement by Pioneer Drama Service, Inc. in Englewood, Colorado.

On April 11, 12, and 13, 2019, join Van Wert High School Theatre as we present Seussical, the Musical at 7:00 p.m. on the Niswonger Performing Arts Center stage. Auditions will take place in December and students will begin rehearsals in January for this toe-tapping musical based on the many stories of Dr. Seuss. The audience will meet famous Dr. Seuss characters such as the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, and Cindy Lou Who as they visit the Jungle of Nool and Whoville. Bring the whole family to join in on their adventures. Tickets for the musical will go on sale in early March as this is a show you will not want to miss. Reserved and general admission seating will be available. Seussical, the Musical is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com. VWHS Theatre hopes to see you at our fall and spring productions as we create, perform, and inspire the Van Wert community through the theatrical arts.

 VWHS Theatre Announcement Little Women

VWHS Robotics Team Ready to Compete

The Van Wert Robotics Team is preparing for the 2018-19 year after a tremendously successful 2017-18 competition season. This year, Van Wert High School will be expanding with a second team, providing additional opportunities to more students.

The Robotics Team has won multiple awards over the past seven years, including the Top Award, The Inspire Award, multiple top robot design awards, best marketing video awards, and other community outreach and programming honors. Last year, the team was selected as captain for the winning alliance at the Pennsylvania state championship, which advanced to the East Super-Regional Competition for the 2017-18 season.

 The 2017-2018 Van Wert High School Robotics Team won the Pennsylvania State Championship.

The 2017-2018 Van Wert High School Robotics Team won the Pennsylvania State Championship.

For the fifth year, Van Wert will be the northwest Ohio host site, where approximately 28 teams from around the state will compete for a spot in the Ohio state championship. This free event will be held in the Van Wert High School gymnasium on Saturday, January 26, 2019, and the public is invited to attend.

The VWHS Robotics Team is made possible through the generous contributions and commitments local individuals and businesses have made in order to continue to inspire young men and women to achieve their dreams. In addition, Vantage Career Center and Van Wert High School partner by offering the nationally recognized high school and middle school Project Lead the Way Engineering (PTLW) programs at VWHS and Van Wert Middle School, which has given hundreds of students opportunities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields and careers.

The program’s goal is to provide an avenue that supports students’ eagerness to pursue a career in engineering. To accomplish the team goals and objectives, the team needs to provide longevity through yearly commitments to the Robotics Team by raising the necessary funds to support the team for the long-term. Individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in learning more about the team can contact Coach Bob Spath (b_spath@vwcs.net) or Coach Zane McElroy (z_mcelroy@vwcs.net).

VWCS Superintendent Speaks at YWCA Empowerment Session

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

A group of eighth grade Cougar Leaders from Van Wert Middle School were at the YWCA of Van Wert County on Monday to learn about economic advancement as it pertains to women in the workforce.

 Van Wert City Schools Superintendent Vicki Brunn talks about her career during an Economic Advancement luncheon at the YWCA of Van Wert County.  photos by Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Van Wert City Schools Superintendent Vicki Brunn talks about her career during an Economic Advancement luncheon at the YWCA of Van Wert County. photos by Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

The eighth-graders, a few boys but mostly girls, were first welcomed by Kelly Houg, the YWCA’s marketing director, who spoke about economic equality for women, noting that Equal Pay Day — the day women make as much as men who do the same jobs did at the end of a year (December 31) — was April 10 of this year, more than three months later.

Equality of pay and being treated the same in the workplace is what economic advancement is all about for women, Houg noted.

The students then had the opportunity to hear from four women who held positions of responsibility, including Libby Gardner, who spent nearly a decade in the military; Van Wert Economic Development Director Stacy Adam, Van Wert City Schools Superintendent Vicki Brunn, and Candy Lammers, who runs her own general contracting company.

 Libby Gardner talks about her military career in the United States Army.

Libby Gardner talks about her military career in the United States Army.

Gardner noted that she first became interested in the military after seeing the television program “Making of a Marine”, but chose the United States Army as her military branch of choice.

Noting she was married at the time, Gardner said she talked it over with her then-husband, as well as family members, before making the decision to enlist.

She added that it wasn’t easy at first to get men to treat her as an equal, noting that women had fewer opportunities in the service then than they have now.

“The first thing I discovered when I joined was that there were a lot of men that didn’t want to line up with women,” Gardner noted. “I had to earn their respect, but they didn’t have to earn mine. They thought they already had it.”

She also noted that later on that, when she was single again, some men she dated felt threatened by a woman in the military, that it made them less masculine somehow. Gardner told the students that, when it comes to physical training, women are built differently than men, they are not inferior to men, and can even do some things, like sit-ups, better than men.

Gardner said she appreciated the fact that her community was always behind her while she was in the military.

Adam, who first broke barriers as a branch manager, and later a vice president, for a Fortune 500 company, Chemlawn, before getting into economic development.

“I just went to work and did my job,” she said.

One advantage she had growing up, Adam noted, was a father who was very supportive of what she did.

“My father encouraged me so much that I didn’t think of being a female in a male world,” she told the students.

Adam also said she learned early on a way to earn equal pay to the men who were in similar positions, noting that she would get her boss to agree to give her an incentive bonus for meeting goals she set that were higher than the men were asked to do. She then met the goals.

Adam told the students that, while life isn’t always fair, women today have more control than they think they do.

Brunn said she also had a father who supported and encouraged her.

“More than anyone, my father made me believe that I could do what I wanted to do,” she noted.

Joking that she still didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up, Brunn said she did a number of thinks, including operating a stud farm, before deciding to be a teacher. The decision to become an administrator came after she saw changes she would like to make in education.

The VWCS superintendent told the students that it didn’t matter what they wanted to do, but recommended that they have a passion for whatever it is they wanted to do,

“You have to really discover what you’re passionate about,” Brunn said.

She also said that, in education, while there are more women teachers than men, as she climbed the administrative ladder as a principal and then a superintendent, there were fewer and fewer women in those positions.

Brunn also noted that she did get some pushback over the years as she was promoted.

At one school district where she was hired as a principal, one male board member told her she was the first woman principal in the district.

Her answer? “I said it’s about time,” Brunn noted, while telling students they need to follow their dreams in life. “I worked hard to move up the ladder and here I am, a superintendent; I don’t think I ever expected to move up that far.”

Candy Lammers was the last speaker. Lammers, who began as a laborer in the construction business at the suggestion of her husband, later worked as subcontractor, a project manager, and just recently started her own general contracting business, CSL Contracting.

She told the students that they should look for a career, not just a job.

“Make a difference; it’s not easy, it’s hard,” Lammers said, but also noted that it’s rewarding, noting that she was the only woman, along with 110 men, who worked on the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and high school-middle school project at Van Wert.

“Here I was a construction manager on a $54 million school project,” Lammers added. “It was a lot of responsibility.”

Lammers also noted that, when men rejected her as a work partner early in her career, “it puts a little fire under you”.

Houg ended the program by challenging the girls to support and empower each other in the workforce, while also telling the boys they also need to provide support to women in the workplace.

VWES 100 Mile Club Kicks Off for 2018-2019 School Year

The philosophy is simple: We believe that every single individual has the ability to achieve true personal success and a new level of physical fitness by Accepting the Challenge of running (or walking) 100 Miles at school during a single school year.  These feelings of true personal success and fitness are ones that will carry an individual to new levels of achievement in all areas:  academics, athletics, and implementation of the valuable life skills identified in the bricks of Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.”

Milestones are celebrated and rewarded beginning at 25 miles with a t-shirt designed to show off a student’s accomplishments during the year. Runners receive a golden pencil at 50 miles and wristband at 75 miles. All students receive a certificate of completion no matter the miles earned. Children who reach 100 miles will be rewarded with a medal at our Year-End Medal Ceremony. Student progress is tracked through QR codes that are scanned with each lap, which are then totaled to find the miles each student completed. 

Impact of 100 Mile Club™ on Van Wert Elementary:

  • Involvement of all students in grades 3-5 (400+ students)
  • Increases physical activity by 125 minutes weekly
  • Increased physical activity allows the students to improve cardiovascular fitness and overall health increased physical activity provides students more energy and alertness, improved attendance, and higher self-esteem
  • Provides opportunity for students to set and achieve goals


Van Wert County Financial Aid Night

There is an informational meeting for parents/guardians of junior and senior students regarding financial aid. The Office of Student Services has arranged for Phil Birkey, Financial Aid Counselor at Ohio Northern University, to present on the financial aid process. Mr. Birkey will explain the step-by-step procedures in completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). In addition, Seth Baker, Executive Secretary of the Van Wert County Foundation, will explain the requirements and application procedures for securing grants. Please plan to attend this important meeting to be held Wednesday, October 3, 2018 in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center-Lecture Hall from 6:30-8:00 p.m. If you are unable to attend, please contact your high school guidance counselor for more information. 

VWMS Teams Up with The Van Wert County Historical Society

Van Wert Middle School and The Van Wert County Historical Society are excited to announce a new collaboration project. Students at the middle school will be using resources and artifacts from the museum to enhance their learning. Each month will focus on one museum building. Highlighted artifacts will be on display at the middle school for students to investigate. On Sundays from 2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.students will have the opportunity to bring their families to the museum to tour the building and talk with museum staff about the featured artifacts. Monthly museum activities will be scheduled to help students connect Van Wert County history to their school curriculum. Each time the students visit they will be able to enter their name in a special drawing for prizes at the end of the year!

Check out September's theme: The Bear School House "Back To School"

Van Wert Fire & EMS Provides Simulation for VWHS Students

Van Wert High School students in Mr. Rollins’ Biomedical class were treated to an unexpected surprise on Monday. Van Wert Fire & EMS demonstrated how they respond to an emergency by providing a live simulation for the class. Mr. Rollins was first on the scene to find Mrs. Garcia, the medical mannequin used in the simulation, unresponsive and called 9-1-1. He ushered the first responders onto the scene and they provided a first-hand look at how they respond to this type of scenario by attempting to provide Mrs. Garcia with an IV, starting CPR, and even using a defibrillator. With little response from Mrs. Garcia, they stabilized her for transport and rushed her out the door to the ambulance.

 VWHS students look on as Van Wert Fire & EMS first responders provide first aid during a simulation. 

After completing the simulation, the first responders walked the students through the scene, from the ABC’s of first aid (airway, breathing, and circulation) to the medicines administered on-scene to the various types of equipment used, including their new AutoPulse resuscitation system. While the Van Wert Fire & EMS average response time is only five minutes, it’s crucial that people know how to help while waiting for an ambulance to arrive; if a person is not breathing, they can begin to suffer brain damage in as little as four to six minutes.

A huge thank you to Van Wert Fire Department staff Craig King, Ed Carter, and Pat Freeman for providing the simulation!

 VWHS students with Van Wert Fire & EMS crew

Employment Opportunities

Van Wert City Schools has the following positions available:  

  • Paraprofessional(s) for AM and PM Bus Stop Supervision (6:15-7:45 a.m. and 2:45 - 4:15 p.m.)
  • Substitute Bus Drivers
  • Substitute Custodians

Please see http://www.vwcs.net/employment-opportunities for a classified employee application and instructions or call 419-238-0648 for more information.

Substitute Bus Drivers
Have you ever thought about becoming a substitute bus driver or know of anyone that may be interested? It’s a great way to earn some extra money and help out driving for country routes, classroom field trips or your children/grandchildren sports. Potential drivers must have a good driving record and pass a pre-employment drug/alcohol test. Van Wert City Schools will assist interested candidates in fulfilling the needed requirements for obtaining a bus driver’s license.  Training includes 16 hours of classroom training and 15-20 hours of on board bus training with our pre-service instructor. If you are interested in learning more and/or have questions please contact Rona Trammell at 419-238-3892 or r_trammell@vwcs.net.


 School buses

Van Wert City Schools return with increased focus on college, careers

By: Michael Kuhn

Posted: Aug 20, 2018 06:04 AM EDT
Updated: Aug 20, 2018 07:42 AM EDT

VAN WERT, Ohio (WANE) - Van Wert City Schools are heading back for a new school year. 

It's the first year the district will have a new superintendent. Vicki Brunn started as the superintendent at VWCS in June. Now she's looking forward to meeting students as they return. 

She said she is also hoping to continue offering special programs throughout the district to help prepare students for life after high school. 

One of those programs is Project Based Learning. The district began the program at the high school in 2010. Since then, the program has expanded all the way down to first grade. 

According to VWCS leaders, Project Based Learning provides students with the opportunity to get hands-on experiences to improve critical thinking, written and oral communication, collaboration, and growth throughout their education. It's all in an effort to better prepare students for college and careers after high school. 

Another program the district prides itself on is the Literacy Collaborative through The Ohio State University. The brand new program implements a new literacy framework in the district's primary classrooms. Each classroom has literacy coaches who support teachers through professional development and demonstration. Together, teachers and literacy coaches then help students learn comprehension, fluency, vocabulary development, and phonics. 

A special program at the high school is the CEO program. It allows senior students to have "real life" exposure and experiences in various career fields. The goal is to better prepare students for careers after high school. 

Another goal of the CEO program is to utilize student talent and skills in the community while building partnerships with area businesses. 

Van Wert City Schools' last day is scheduled for May 24.

VWCS Bus Drivers Undergo Active Threat Training

Van Wert City School bus drivers went through intense “Active Threat on a Bus” training, Wednesday, August 15. Knowing that danger can strike anywhere, anytime, bus drivers convened at Van Wert High School from 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. to listen to presentations by the Van Wert City Police Department and Van Wert County Sheriff’s Department. Bus drivers watched videos of different scenarios that can occur on a bus route before taking to the buses themselves to practice. Officer Greg Blackmore and Sergeant Ed Klausing provided one-on-one training for each driver, acting as students or a potential threat and walked them through various ways of handling situations that may occur on a bus. Thank you to Van Wert City Police Chief Joel Hammond and Van Wert County Sheriff Tom Riggenbach for providing this invaluable training for our drivers! Van Wert City Schools continues to focus on school safety as a priority.

2018-2019 New Student Registration

Registration for new students (KG – 12) is currently open for the 2018-2019 school year.  Only new students to the Van Wert City School District must register.  Students K- 12 currently enrolled at VWCS do not need to complete registration.  Students can be registered in the Superintendent’s Office located in the SF Goedde Building, 205 W Crawford St, Van Wert OH  45891.  Office hours are Monday – Friday from 8am to 4pm.

Click here to access the Registration Forms, then complete the appropriate Kindergarten/New Student Registration forms.  Drop off, fax, or email completed forms to:

Van Wert City Schools
205 W Crawford St
Van Wert OH  45891


 If you have any questions regarding the registration process, please call the Superintendent’s Office at 419-238-0648

VWCS Staff Give to Local Summer Programs

For the eight year in a row, the Van Wert Federation of Teachers donated $1,250 to both The Brumback Summer Reading Program and the YWCA Youth Enrichment Program, which includes the After School and Summer Food programs. Through their annual end-of-year fundraiser, Van Wert City School employees are encouraged to donate to the fundraiser in exchange for the opportunity to “dress casual” the last week of school.

VWFT President, Jeff Hood, said, “The very nature of school teachers is to pour their resources into our children and by collecting pocket change for one week, we are able to promote our community and children of Van Wert. Our people have really done a great job of that.”

  A group of children from the YWCA Summer Food Program enjoyed a morning of activities at The Brumback Library.

A group of children from the YWCA Summer Food Program enjoyed a morning of activities at The Brumback Library.

  Children participating in The Brumback Library’s Summer Reading Program ended their morning with a “Music and Movement” session.

Children participating in The Brumback Library’s Summer Reading Program ended their morning with a “Music and Movement” session.

VWHS Named Ohio’s Top 100 High Schools

U.S. News ranked Van Wert High School #74 in the state of Ohio and #1,841 in the nation, awarding them a silver medal for Best High Schools. 28,813 schools were considered nationwide with 313 Ohio schools making the rankings.

To determine the list, U.S. News considers factors such as student performance on state-required tests, graduation rate, and college readiness.

Van Wert High School boasts a 61 percent Advanced Placement® participation rate and a 98 percent graduation rate.

Click here to see the full list: U.S News Best High Schools.

 Van Wert High School

VWHS Names 12 Graduates of Distinction

A total of 12 students at Van Wert High School’s Class of 2018 have been named as Graduates of Distinction, according to VWHS Principal Bob Priest.

 VWHS 2018 Graduates of Distinction

Graduates of Distinction for Van Wert High School’s Class of 2018 include (top row, from the left) Briana Kesler, Nicole Clay, Erin Gemmer, Emma Verville, Mikayla Hernandez, Chloe Brake; (bottom row) Austin Voors, Madison Turnwald, Camryn Nouza, Michael Etter, Erin Richardson, and Cassidy Meyers.

Students so honored include Chloe Brake, Nicole Clay, Michael Etter, Erin Gemmer, Mikayla Hernandez, Briana Kesler, Cassidy Meyers, Camryn Nouza, Erin Richardson, Madison Turnwald, Emma Verville, and Austin Voors.

To qualify as a Graduate of Distinction, VWHS seniors must be in the top 10 percent of their graduating class, have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.85 or higher, have successfully completed a minimum of three Advanced Placement (AP) courses (seven are offered at VWHS), and have no incidents of cheating or plagiarism reported to the principal’s office.

Brake, the daughter of Traci Brake and the late David Brake, will be attending The Ohio State University majoring in human nutrition on a pre-med track.

Clay, the daughter of Scott Clay and Sherri Clay, plans to major in sociology at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Etter, the son of Brad and Laura Etter, will major in architecture, with a minor in business, at Ball State University.

Gemmer, the daughter of John and Christine Gemmer, will major in fine arts at Wright State University.

Hernandez, the daughter of Matt Hernandez and Amanda Atkinson, will major in interior design at The Ohio State University.

Kesler, the daughter of Kent and Diane Kesler, will attend Ball State University majoring in finance.

Meyers, the daughter of Jeff and Tracy Meyers, will major in geographical information science at Eastern Michigan University.

Nouza, the daughter of Rich and Tammy Nouza, will major in marketing at the University of Mount Union.

Richardson, the daughter of Michael and Michelle Richardson, will be majoring in nursing at Wright State University in Dayton.

Turnwald, the daughter of Tom and Michelle Turnwald, will major in nutrition science at The Ohio State University on a pre-med track.

Verville, the daughter of Mark and Tonia Verville, will major in nursing at Xavier University.

Voors, son of James Voors and Alicia Voors, will major in biology, with a pre-veterinary track, at Ball State University.

All 12 Graduates of Distinction will receive special recognition at VWHS commencement exercises, to be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 20, in the high school gymnasium.