#1StudentNWI: Wheeler High School teacher sews masks to support community

#1StudentNWI: Wheeler High School teacher sews masks to support community

Wheeler High School recently hosted the Bearcat Theatre Company’s fall production of “The 39 Steps.” This romantic thriller was presented virtually through the online streaming platform, “Broadway on Demand,” and could be watched at any time. 

There were twenty members in the show, and they wore masks throughout the program unless they were on stage. Despite the difficulty recording when members got contact-traced, the show went extremely well and members and viewers enjoyed it thoroughly.

“I am very glad we got to do the show in general. The radio play was the perfect solution to the pandemic; we were able to act while staying socially distanced,” said cast member Lily Bushy.

The Bearcats made the best of a difficult situation in order for members to continue doing what they loved and for viewers to be safe and comfortable. As of right now, the Bearcat Theatre Company’s winter production is to be determined. 

Wheeler High School’s National Honor Society (NHS) held a blood drive on Wednesday, October 28 that was open to the community. NHS members were committed to volunteering at the blood drive, and they each had the goal of bringing in at least two donors. One donor would be from the school, and the other donor would be from the community. 

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, Wheeler High School took all the necessary precautions. Volunteers made sure that temperatures were taken twice for each individual, that masks were worn at all times, and that donors sat six feet apart while waiting on the bleachers.

“Although we are amidst a pandemic, the NHS was capable of hosting Wheeler High School’s most successful blood drive in school history, collecting 70 pints and beating the old record of 54 pints,” said NHS Vice President Dorothy Heuring. “With our hard work and proper safety precautions, the American Red Cross and our members made an impact on many people in need.”

Through these events, Wheeler High School continues to show a growing sense of community despite the struggles of COVID-19.

Teacher Spotlight

Rhonda LaVelle, the cherished FACS Department Chair at Wheeler High School, has a superb talent for sewing and constantly uses her skill to help those in need.

“I have always been interested in sewing for as far back as I can remember,” LaVelle said. “My mother sewed and taught me as well as my grandmother. My grandmother sewed for other people and did alterations for a local dress shop. I loved watching her and learning from her.”

When LaVelle first started teaching at Wheeler, she taught four levels of textiles and clothing courses and continued sewing for the students and staff. 

From her home, LaVelle’s work consists of altering prom dresses for students, reupholstering cushions and pillows, tailoring coats, and much more. During the shutdown, however, LaVelle focused on making masks for hospitals and nursing homes in dire need of personal protection equipment. 

LaVelle joined the Masks for NWI Healthcare Workers group and began supporting its cause.

“I made masks from cloth as well as special N95 material for the COVID-19 patients at the hospitals. I probably made about 600 or so masks for them and about 200 special masks for two different nursing homes I donated to,” she said. 

LaVelle also made masks for a cancer unit, local businesses, churches, and more. In the beginning, LaVelle made masks out of leftover materials, but as she made more, she received donations from JOANN Fabrics and Crafts as well as the Masks for NWI Healthcare Workers group. 

When school started in August, LaVelle decided to make masks for teachers at Wheeler High School incorporating a Wheeler Bearcat patch made from green and orange material. She also made some masks for "Red for Ed,” a national movement in support of public education. Lavelle also made extra masks for preschoolers attending local elementary schools.

LaVelle is just one of the many excelling teachers at Wheeler High School—the community appreciates her work and effort immensely.  

Student Spotlight

Senior Amaya Turner has broken multiple records throughout her career at Wheeler High School. She spent most of her time training to be the most dedicated and competitive runner she could be. Turner has always been committed to achieving her goals, as shown through her success at setting the Indiana State Record for Indoor Track.

Her days consist of early morning workouts and balancing school and work while entertaining her hobbies. Turner is currently ranked third in the nation for the 400 and 800 meter runs, and she is a member of “The 800 Project” through which she trains to break world records. 

When Turner is not training, she spends her time babysitting and focusing on her academics. Turner also prioritizes her many other interests and hobbies.

“It is important to me that I focus on all my interests, which is why I love antiquing during my free time. It may seem like an unusual hobby, but for me, it is the perfect way to destress,” Turner said.

Turner has recently committed to the University of Miami, after being offered a full scholarship, in order to continue her track career.

“I am blessed to have had the opportunity to run over the summer, and I am thankful for the opportunity to get a scholarship,” she said.

She plans on pursuing an English Major in college and later becoming an immigration lawyer. Turner is a person of many goals, talents, and interests. Her dedication to track and her determination to succeed will take her far in life.