#1StudentNWI: River Forest School History in the Making

What's Coming Up? The Road to State for Spell Bowl

The River Forest academic team has always had a good reputation, being one of the few teams from a low-income community with consistent overall scores year after year. Though they have never been able to bring home the spell bowl state championship, this year had a golden opportunity to change school history.

On October 29, 2018 the academic team traveled to Lowell High School to compete in the Indiana Academic Spell Bowl Area competition where they received a score of 69. This crowned them area champions for the first time in school history. The next day the IASP released the statewide results that revealed which schools will advance to the upcoming state competition at Purdue University. The combined team score not only won their division but also qualified the team for state, with the highest score in their class out of all 50 schools competing in their class.

“My kids are finally buying into what I’ve been saying and they’re taking it seriously. We’ve already made school history but we want to take it all the way and win state. We don’t want to settle,” academic team head coach, Jim Weitzel said.

The team has already set high standards for themselves for the state finals. At the area competition las year, they beat the state champions and every other school in attendance, but still weren’t satisfied.

“They set a goal for themselves to reach a combined score of 70. They missed that goal by a point so it’s really humbling to see that they’re working even harder to reach their goal at state,” Weitzel said.

Saturday morning, November 10th, the team will head to Purdue West Lafayette bright and early in hopes of making school history. Good luck to all participants.

What's Happened? Welcoming The School’s First Ever Bowling Team

The 2018-2019 school year brings a lot of new changes to River Forest, including the school’s first-ever girls bowling team. The club is grateful to be sponsored by Ray’s Lane in Lake Station. The team currently consists of five bowlers, and have enough participants to compete.

The team of 5 high schoolers practice entirely out of Ray’s Lanes. They recently won their first meet against Chesterton and will continue to improve more and more after every meet.

The group of girls would like to expand the bowling club as much as possible and bring the opportunity of competitive bowling to more people, even those without experience.

Teacher Spotlight

Mr. Jim Weitzel has been with River Forest for quite some time. He has been teaching for 24 years and currently teaches AP US history, sociology, and US history at the high school level.

Everyone that enters Weitzel’s classroom is greeted with a new funny and sarcastic quote on the board every day. Every class period ends with his favorite quote, “I may not always like you but I do love you, always remember that.”

During class, Weitzel strives to make history as interesting as possible for his students.

Outside of school, Weitzel devotes many hours to the academic team as their head coach. He has led them to countless awards and state finals. The academic team is one of the best in the area and is quite underrated. Tthey have beaten some of the best and have represented Indiana at the decathlon online national competition. Despite the success, Weitzel always strives to do better.

“There’s a mentality at River Forest that we can’t be better than the big schools, so a lot of kids just give up. I praise to my academic team that we have a great reputation down state for a reason and that they can be state champions if they work for it. They have the talent and I genuinely believe in them. It doesn’t matter that we’re a small low-income school, every year we’re up in the rankings with the big schools that have much more resources than we have,” Weitzel said.

Weitzel is very passionate about his profession and the entire River Forest community.

“As cheesy as it sounds, my students inspire me and I’m very passionate about RF. I get offended when people look down on us. It makes me want to work harder to prove them wrong. Our school definitely has its issues, but I truly believe that we have the ability to be great. Nothing makes me happier than when someone from the outside our district sees River Forest in a positive light; the kids and teachers deserve it,” Weitzel expressed.

Student Spotlight

Mariyana Magana is a hardworking and self-driven senior at River Forest. Magana is involved in National Honor Society, student council, tennis, and cheerleading. She enjoys devoting her time to bettering the community and isn't quite ready to say goodbye to high school yet.

”It’s crazy how fast time has flown by, I feel like I'm the only one who isn't ready to graduate, ” Magana started.

Also, Magana is anxious about graduation but is ready to make a change in her life as she plans to move away for college. Although she is uncertain on exactly what college she will be attending, she does know that she wants to study radiation therapy.

”I’m not sure where I want to go to college yet, but I’m thinking IUPUI or St. Francis, ” Magana stated.

Despite the uncertainties, Magana is a student who will be successful wherever she ends up.