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FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) — High school students in Johnson County are working bell-to-bell to help save the lives of man’s best friend this winter. 

Students at Whiteland High School, Greenwood High School, Indian Creek High School, and Franklin Community High School are building dog houses for a good grade and for the good of dogs left out in the cold. 

With record-breaking temperatures and wind chills in central Indiana this year, employees of the Johnson County Humane Society (JCHS) say they receive between eight and 15 calls a week from neighbors concerned about dogs outside in their area. 

Jennifer Estrada, office manager at the JCHS, says her agency would like to help more people but are out of resources. Since the humane society is not a lawful animal control agency, she cannot issue citations or remove an animal from someone’s yard.

“It’s hard,” she said. “We are a rescue, therefore we can’t go into the community and enter someone’s property. They’re frustrated with us; we’re frustrated we can’t get more help out.”

Estrada says actually, removing pets and issuing citations isn’t the ideal solution.

“I think there’s a misconception that these people don’t care for their animals. It’s not that they don’t care, they just don’t have the resources to give the proper care,” said Estrada.

Charles Hessman, industrial technology teacher at Franklin Community High School, says he received an email from JCHS asking for help. He says his class often builds wooden model homes as a design and construction project, but that the homes often end up in the trash. If the students build something they’ll donate, Hessman says that’s a better use of his resources, students’ skills and also teaches a lesson in supporting Johnson County families. 

“I thought, well sure. It’s a great community project. It’s a good hands-on, it’s an actual purpose project where they could see an actual project being made and being useful,” he said. 

Hessman says often, he’ll have students tell him the industrial tech class is their favorite time of the day, or that they only come to school to attend his class. He says projects like this help. 

“They’re engaged. They like coming to this class. My class sizes are jumping due to the fact that we do hands-on,” said Hessman. 

Hessman received several donations from Johnson County businesses of shingles, 2×4’s, plywood, and insulation. He and the students have built two dog houses with four more almost complete. He hopes to bring between six and eight doghouses to the JCHS from this class. 

“They’re pretty heavy-duty doghouses. Definitely not going to be getting cold in the winter because they are insulated,” said Sam Wood, a senior in Mr. Hessman’s class. “If you don’t do your job then you might let a dog get wet when it’s raining or get cold in the winter.”

Hessman, a dog owner himself, says he hopes to continue the project next semester with more donated materials. 

“If this saves a dog’s life, that’s well worth the project,” said Hessman. 

“It’s just thinking of a solution. A solution better than a citation,” agreed Estrada at JCHS. 

If you’d like to donate high-quality materials for next semester’s dog house project, please contact Charles Hessman at Franklin Community High School at 317-750-4159 or 

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) — Police arrested a Franklin Community High School teacher on a child seduction charge on Tuesday.

The arrest came after, the principal said, multiple students came forward to make reports.

Assistant Choir Director Alex Brickens was on his second year with the high school, according to Franklin Community School Corp. officials. It wasn’t a long time, but long enough to make an unfortunate mark in the community.

From assistant choir director to a spot in the Johnson County Jail, authorities passed along the mugshot of Brickens.

According to online records, he resides in Franklin. He did not answer a knock at the door or a message via via Facebook.

People in the community have plenty to say about the arrest.

“He’s a young dude and worked with the choir kids. Shocking, but at the same time, it’s really not,” said Parker Shepard, who graduated from the high school last year. 

Franklin resident Richard Mandabach said, “We send our kids to school to be safe and all that. There’s always crap going on.”

Exactly what was going on is still unknown. There are some clues. Brikens faces a child seduction charge and, in a letter to parents, the high school’s principal, Steve Ahaus, acknowledged students for reporting the alleged misconduct. In that letter he said in part, “The actions that led to this arrest are not acceptable and not who we are at Franklin Community High School.”

According to officials with the school district, on Monday they learned of the accusations and suspended Brickens immediately. Franklin police arrested him on Tuesday. Brickens worked for Center Grove Schools the previous four years, the district said. His future with the Franklin district is contingent on the criminal investigation. However, some in the community have reached their own verdict.

“I just hope they throw away the key. Lock him up,” said Connie Hatley, who has a relative at the Franklin high school.

Brickens bonded out of jail. From here, Franklin police will hand the case over to the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office to review for charges. 

The principal also sent this letter to choir parents about the situation:

FCHS Choir Parents, I am emailing you to make you aware of a meeting I had with all choir and show band students this morning. The meeting was an attempt to share information in two ways: the first part of the meeting involved providing students with what limited information we are able to share about an incident involving Mr. Brickens, Assistant Choir Director. The second part of the meeting was to share some of my personal thoughts and support for all of them.

I opened the meeting by letting them know that we were made aware of Mr. Brickens’ arrest yesterday. Throughout this process, we have been in cooperation with the Franklin Police Department and sharing information under their guidance. We are not able to comment on these legal and personnel issues at this time. The meeting then moved to the role students played in this process and how we can support all of our students through this difficult time. We were able to deal with this issue because some very courageous students were willing to report what they had heard or knew. While I did not use individual names, I praised the students who came forward with information. It was not an easy decision for those students, but they absolutely did the right thing. We stress at every opportunity we have with students the importance of reporting what they hear and know. We are thankful for what these students did and want to make sure they are supported in the coming days. Any negative actions taken towards the students who shared information will be dealt with in a disciplinary way.

I also wanted to share with the group that we are available for support. Dr. Clendening, central office staff, and counselors were in attendance as I shared information. While our ability to talk about the case is limited, our ability to talk with them through the emotions of this incident is not. We want to be able to help them in whatever way we can. The actions that led to this arrest are not acceptable and not who we are at Franklin Community High School.

In the coming days, I would encourage you to let our counseling staff know if we can support your sons and daughters in any way. If they have additional information they feel would be important for the school and police to know please have them share that information with school staff or administration.

Mr. Steve Ahaus Franklin

Community High School


Franklin defeats Whiteland 59-46.

Franklin defeats Plainfield 48-36.

Franklin defeats Whiteland 61-50.

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) — Giving the gift of music this holiday season is what one local organization is trying to do. The Franklin Symphonic Council is asking you to clean out your attics, and dig into your closets. They want your old instruments.

The donations will go to kids, specifically those in the band program at Franklin Community Middle School and Franklin Community High School. It’s a district where many of the kids come from homes that cannot afford instruments.

Spread across Karen Sanders’ living room is an array of instruments; everything from drums to a saxophone still in its case. Sanders has been instrumental in collecting the equipment.

“I’ve been going and picking them up. They’ll give me a call. They tell me what they have. I get an address. We arrange a time and date to take off. I fill up my car and I bring them home,” Sanders said.

Sanders is a board member for the Franklin Symphonic Council.

“We want to promote music and the arts in the Johnson County area for adults, students, children. For everyone,” she added.

One way they’re doing that is by taking in donations; specifically instruments. After receiving the instruments, the organization pays to have them refurbished. The instruments go to seventh through twelfth graders in the Franklin Community School District.

Franklin Community Middle School principal, Rita Holman estimates that nearly 50% of her students cannot afford an instrument.

“If they can’t do that because of finances, that really limits their opportunities. Any way we can allow kids, all kids to have access to our program is greatly appreciated,” Holman said.

It’s a sentiment that strikes a chord with Sanders.

“Music is so important to individuals and to their lifestyle that it is so important that we make sure that we can get an instrument in every child’s hand,” Sanders said.

Franklin Symphonic Council has been doing an instrument drive for three years. The drive is year-round, however there is a special emphasis for donations through the month of December. If you’d like to help out, you can do so by either donating an instrument or money. More information about the program can be found on the website of the Franklin Symphonic Council.

Decatur Central defeats Franklin 71-62.

Decatur Central defeats Franklin 41-16.

Plainfield defeats Franklin 31-26.

Brownsburg defeats Franklin 59-0.