From start to finish
The following stories about Sydney and Rebecca are part of a yearlong series. The Signal will follow the kindergartner and senior, highlighting different aspects of the students' year.
Kindergartner experiences apple orchard
Between the bus ride and the apple picking and the petting zoo, the field trip to the apple orchard proved to be pretty exciting for kindergartner Sydney Clem.
But one part topped everything else as her favorite.
"I got to go to the petting zoo," she said. "My favorite animal was that donkey, small, I mean short. I mean his name was Shorty."
Sydney and the rest of the kindergartners from Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center spent Tuesday morning at Fieldstone Orchard, just east of Overbrook.
Kindergarten teacher Marcia O'Neil said students have spent the last several days reading and learning about apples, making Johnny Appleseed paper bag puppets and sampling apples, cider and juice.
She said the field trip was a good way for the students to learn outside of the classroom.
"It's a hands-on experience," she said. "It's one of the best ways to learn."
O'Neil said Sydney seemed to get the most out of the experience.
"I noticed she was excited whether it was picking apples or feeding the animals," she said. "She was excited about every aspect of the morning. She just soaked it up."
Sydney's mother, Dana Clem, agreed that Sydney was enthusiastic about her first trip ever to an apple orchard.
"She kept saying, 'We get to go on a field trip, we're going on a field trip,'" Clem said. "She kept telling her brother and sister about it."
She said Sydney was even particular about the clothes she wanted to wear, choosing her favorite blue outfit.
Sydney and her classmates rode the bus out to the orchard.
Clem said she hadn't realized it was her daughter's first bus ride until they had started.
"She just started giggling," she said.
Once at the orchard, Sydney and the other students met owner Ken Krause, known as Apple Man to the students. He took them on a tour of the orchard and let them pick apples from the trees, telling them a particular way to pick them.
"You twist them and then they come off," Sydney said.
The kindergartners also saw the rest of the apple picking process.
"I learned how to wash the apples. You dump them and then they come out and they get spinned," she said.
After showing the students how the orchard washed and separated the apples by size, Krause showed them the refrigeration unit where they were stored. He warned them the apples were sleeping and that the kindergartners should be quiet so the apples wouldn't be disturbed.
"They were snoring," Sydney said. "But somebody woke them up. It wasn't me."
The students also got a chance to visit the orchard's petting zoo, complete with chickens, goats, a pony and a donkey.
"And I got to pet a horse and feed it hay," Sydney said.
Sydney also managed to find a peacock feather, which she was sure belonged to a turkey. But she was pleased that her feather appeared to be the largest one found.
"He told us that if you find any feathers, you're lucky," she said.
No matter how many reminders of all the activities the kindergartners were able to do on the field trip, Sydney kept coming back to mention the donkey, Shorty.
"His nose is really soft," she said.
Senior leads team in volleyball
Rebecca Verhaeghe's enthusiasm for volleyball is something head coach Jim Oatman knows is an asset to the Baldwin High School team.
"When she steps out on to the court, she has a high amount of enthusiasm," he said. "When she does something positive or the team does something well, enthusiasm-wise she's very genuine. That helps motivate the team."
As a senior, Oatman said, Verhaeghe has stepped up as one of the leaders of the team.
"By nature, she's very, very quiet unless she's around the girls," he said.
But Oatman said he can count on her to step out on the court and address situations with her teammates that need correcting or improving.
"That helps not having it come from the coach," he said.
Verhaeghe is also willing to change positions as needed, he said, even if one is not as familiar to her as another.
"She's very versatile," he said. "She's very willing to adapt."
Verhaeghe knows being able to adjust and accepting more of a leadership role is part of being a senior on a competitive volleyball team.
She said recently she's switched from being a hitter to taking over as a setter.
"I like to hit, but when you're setting, you need to be more of a team captain. I think that's important," she said.
"It's more of a leadership role because setters touch the ball every time," she said. "They really have to know their players. They have to know where to place the ball so the team can score and win."
But Verhaeghe will readily admit that she has no problem as a hitter, either.
"Sometimes it's just fun to hit and score a point, to get a good kill," she said.
Verhaeghe has been playing volleyball since the seventh grade. In addition to playing for Baldwin during school, Verhaeghe has also spent the winters playing club volleyball for Midwest Juniors out of Wellsville. She played basketball through her ninth-grade year, and she picked up track for the first time last year, but she's stuck with volleyball for six straight years.
"I like every part of volleyball," she said. "I love the feeling that you get when you or your teammate has an awesome kill, and everyone runs to the center screaming and cheering. It is so exciting and fun. I just enjoy playing it a lot."
The volleyball season runs from August through October. She and the rest of her team started the season off with two-a-day practices, but practices were reduced to one two or two and a half hour practices a day. Games are usually fit in to one night a week.
Verhaeghe said balancing academics, volleyball and her personal life is challenging at times, but she said it's just a matter of prioritizing.
"You just get done what needs to be done," she said.
Tuesday marked Verhaeghe's last home game, signaling the nearing of the end to a six-year career with Baldwin.
"It's kind of sad," she said. "I'm going to miss it a lot."
Though she's not sure what her volleyball plans will be after high school, she said she doesn't want to quit the sport.
"I want to at least continue playing it in some way," she said.