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High School Face-Off

September 24, 2009 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Inside this issue

In honor of tonight’s Providence Bowl, we’ve packed our High School Faceoff issue with the tales of long-tenured teachers and a who’s-who list of famous alums. We also take a close look at the cultures of both schools, including technology and violence. To do this, we sent 14 reporters to Hickman and Rock Bridge to speak with students, faculty and administrators, as well as sources such as the Columbia Police Department. In doing this, we hoped to better understand the schools and paint a complete picture of their respective cultures.

We know what you’re thinking; Columbia isn’t just a two-school town. This is true, but Hickman and Rock Bridge are the town’s two traditional public high schools and, as such, command the most attention. But we’re not discrediting Douglass High School. In "Overcoming obstacles," we explore 1960s desegregation and how it affected students at Douglass and Hickman. But due to the size and nature of Douglass and Columbia’s private schools, it’s unfair to compare these to Hickman and Rock Bridge. To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive comparison of Hickman and Rock Bridge. We trust these stories have a longer shelf life than just football season.

Providence Bowl

View scenes from the 2009 Providence Bowl between Hickman Kewpies and Rock Bridge Bruins. The Bruins defeated the Kewpies 26-0.

Where are they now?

High school graduations are a guessing game of who will be the future president, who’ll be a townie and who’ll never come back. Did any of us imagine that a Grammy winner and a senator were sitting among us? These grads prove you can never know.

On the Job: High School Custodians

Thanks to Bill Cosby, we all know that kids say the darndest things. The surprises don’t stop when adolescence hits: Teens simply learn to keep comments below the radar. Their gossip, though, often doesn’t go unheard. Although they keep to themselves and remain relatively unnoticed, school custodians see and hear it all. Anthony Fitzgerald custodial supervisor at Hickman High School, and Arnold Cromwell, custodial supervisor at Rock Bridge, have stepped away from maintaining the school to enlighten us on what life is like behind the scenes.

Tech-savvy students

It’s a poetic scene of sorts when students flood the hallways at Rock Bridge and Hickman High Schools. Cell phones are whipped out, and fingers fly across keypads. Although it is hard to understand how a majority of socialization can be virtual, today’s students use cell phones, social sites and mp3 players hourly to make and break plans, break and make up and, generally, be teenagers.

Edged out

Each year, Rock Bridge and Hickman compete in 17 different sports, each with varying degrees of success. Vox looks at the last year’s record books to put a stop to puffery surrounding major sports and to solve this rivalry once and for all. The numbers don’t lie.

Through the Years

Flapper dresses were hot, and disco was an inferno but what’s happened since our hometown high schools opened in the ’20s and ’70s? Find out and impress alums with your historical knowledge about the Bruins and the Kewpies.

One high school, three generations.

Greg Asbury missed his chance to get out of Columbia. Now he never wants to leave. Asbury earned his diploma from Hickman High School in 1979, exactly 30 years after his father. Like a lot of young adults his age, Asbury scoffed at the idea of sticking around his hometown, but jobs kept him moored in mid-Missouri. Although his wandering was a zigzag path, Greg never really left the city.

The young and the reckless


Welcome to the jungle. What role do guns, theft, narcotics and crime play in your school? An update on crime at Hickman and Rock Bridge

Sizing up the competition off the field

The Providence Bowl takes the Hickman-Rock Bridge crosstown rivalry to the field, but we’re taking it to the classroom for a head-to-head comparison of the numbers. State-wide, district and local reports expose schools’ demographics, test scores and more.

Overcoming obstacles

High school isn’t all black and white. Hear the stories of Columbia students during integration from Douglass to Hickman. Plus, explore the history of Douglass School from 1865 to 1997.

Rival Survival

To a high school student, rivalry is more than just a word; it’s a way of life. And rivalries aren’t something adults leave in the past with their prom corsages and baggy Jnco jeans. Rivalries are epic: The Sharks had the Jets, the Tigers have the Jayhawks and Spencer and Heidi have the world. But when it comes to Rock Bridge and Hickman, which school truly rules Columbia?

Roosters, cows and mice, oh my!

Coming up with creative ways to torment faculty and underclassmen has always been a traditional cure for senioritis. Hickman and Rock Bridge upperclassmen have been on the top of their games during the past few years: They’ve used pigs, tractors and even hovercrafts to promote school spirit.

Lifelong leaders

Both Vicki Reimler of Rock Bridge and Jan Haffey of Hickman have the longest-running careers at their respective high schools. Reimler has been hearing her voice echo in the halls for 28 years, and yet she claims she hasn’t worked a day in her life. Haffey just started her 36th year of teaching and says she still enjoys her students immensely. Her passion for teaching hasn’t subsided.

High school mascots go head to head


Watch the Rock Bridge high school Bruin mascot and Hickman Kewpie's mascot fight head to head in the studio during our cover shoot.

Rumors and realities

They have, like, no money. They smoke pot. Our sports teams crush theirs. If talk is cheap, then the hearsay of Columbia is on clearance. No more than five miles separate Hickman from Rock Bridge, but rumor and speculation drive the divide even further. It’s time to toss conjectures aside and face the facts in this Providence Road myth bust.

Playing the field

Those autumn Friday nights of high school — when the epic home football games are played on brightened fields — give students in the stands an opportunity to be more than spectators. Games give students a chance to participate in the high school community, which makes those home games as important to them as to those on the field.

After-school alliance

Forget post-school snacks, these students are craving extra hallway fun. If your student stays after school to partake in the Zombie Defense League, no worries; it’s extracurricular.

Say what?


Avoid getting “pwnd” in the hallways by using this Columbia-specific urban dictionary. With the help of high school students at Hickman and Rock Bridge, we’ve broken down the jargon for you: This student-defined list will help you become a language “beast.” Come on, you know you want to find out what “Betty crockin’ it” means, and no, it doesn’t refer to cake mix.

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