#1StudentNWI: Concluding remarks from Kouts High School

#1StudentNWI: Concluding remarks from Kouts High School

What’s recently happened?

Thursday May 11 was the last concert of the year at Kouts High School (KHS). These seasonal concerts bring together the KHS band and choir as well as featuring the performance choir, Kouts Singers. This concert introduces a newer face as director of this show choir, Sandra Birky. 

Birky is currently the treasurer at KHS, but has been heavily involved with music before she began volunteering as the director of Kouts Singers. 

“I took 10 years of piano lessons starting in second grade and one semester in college. In high school, I was involved in choir and swing choir here at KHS,” she said.

Birky was involved in the music program at KHS previously. In 2005, the music director at the time asked her to lead Kouts Singers and she continued to lead the group until 2016. 

“Because of my previous years of leading Kouts Singers, I knew the positive impact it could have in many areas, for the KHS music program, for kids that are involved, and for the community that can experience quality concerts right here in Kouts,” she said. 

On concert night, the show choir students performed three songs including “Tragedy" by Gibb, "The Climb" by Alexander/Mabe, and "Livin’ on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi. 

Birky is hopeful for the future in expanding the program. 

"Hopefully, it will build momentum for upcoming student musicians to participate in KHS music. There’s a history here at KHS for an excellent music program. I’m happy to be a part of its redevelopment and future,” she said. 

What’s coming up?

Summer is just around the corner. As of Friday, May 12, there will be only a week and a half left of school. Only eight school days are remaining.  While Wednesday, May 24 is the official last day of school for the 2022-2023 year, graduation for the seniors is one week later on Wednesday, May 31. 

Before the year officially ends, the seniors will take their walk through the school. On Friday, May 19 at 1:45 p.m., all of the seniors will put on their caps and gowns and take a walk through the elementary, middle, and high school hallways. This event is really special as it gives a chance for the entire school, grades K-12, teachers, and staff members to congratulate the students as they reminisce about their time at KHS. 

The final three days will be taken up by finals for the high school students. There is no time to be slacking off in order to finish out the year strong. 

The final days are also a good time for some needed spring cleaning for all the students. The last day, also being a half day, has time set aside for locker cleanout. A clean locker is a fresh start and a good way to end this year to start again for the next. 

Staff spotlight: 

Tom Stoner has been the principal at KHS for nine years. 

Teaching is Stoner’s second career as he started by working in a factory. After working with students in a church youth group, he decided to go back to school for teaching at Indiana University Northwest. 

For 10 years at Lowell, Stoner taught seventh and eighth-grade math, but once he got his administrative license he worked as the dean of students. 

Stoner then went on to be the assistant principal and athletic director at KHS for two years before landing on the job as principal; a job where no two days are alike. 

“I would say there is no average day. You come in with a to-do list of things that you want to get accomplished for that day, and sometimes you get it done. Sometimes, not so much,” Stoner said. 

Every day though, Stoner tries to spend his time with the students as much as possible instead of doing paperwork. Connecting with his students is by far his favorite part of his job. 

With graduation only a month away, Stoner reflects on this time of year. 

“Graduation is a bittersweet day for me. I always enjoy it because our seniors get to move on to that next chapter in their journey. The bitter part is we also say goodbye to 70 students or so,” he said. 

To have a principal that knows more than a student’s name and vice versa makes a small school like KHS special. 

Outside of school, Stoner spends his time reading and spending time with his family outdoors camping and fishing.

Student spotlight: 

Isabel Burrick is one of the 69 seniors graduating this month. While she didn’t arrive at Kouts Middle/High School until eighth grade, she has still made lasting memories from getting involved in what KHS had to offer. 

Burrick, like so many other seniors, didn’t realize how fast this year would fly by, but it’s almost over and it’s time to start new chapters.

“I would rank my senior year a solid 8.47 out of 10. I’m excited to leave high school and move on with my life toward my other goals and ambitions,” she said. 

Instead of a concrete event, her friends generate Burrick’s favorite memories from her four years of high school. 

“There are so many memories I love during my time here from my friends or my memories from science club from my memories from my SRTs. I treasure all of them,” she said. 

Burrick was also a member of the color guard team for three years, and during this time the team became a second family to her. 

“I loved my color guard team and how friendly the whole sports team was with each other. I will never forget them and will genuinely miss them when I graduate,” she said. 

After high school, Burrick plans on attending Indiana University South Bend to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice where she hopes to find a job in that field after graduating college.