#1StudentNWI: Whiting High School continues navigating a winter wonderland as the new semester unfolds

#1StudentNWI: Whiting High School continues navigating a winter wonderland as the new semester unfolds

What's recently happened?

Whiting High School recently encountered challenges at the onset of the new semester courtesy of a snowstorm that swept through the area. The snowfall, while adding a picturesque touch to the surroundings, posed hurdles for commuters and led to delayed arrivals due to icy road conditions. In response to this disruption, the close-knit Whiting High School community mobilized with residents of the city to clear snow from driveways and sidewalks, showcasing the school's resilience in overcoming unexpected obstacles.

The return to Whiting High School from the winter break brought a sense of energy and anticipation. Students, rejuvenated from the break, entered the school with a renewed focus on the commencement of a new semester. The classrooms buzzed with the excitement of students eager to dive back into their academic routines, reflecting a collective eagerness to resume their studies.

“The extended winter break threw a curveball my way. Mentally gearing up for the usual grind, I found unexpected relief in the prolonged hiatus. The bonus time became my secret weapon to conquer the notorious first few weeks back,” said Junior Brennen Bannister.

Within the school walls, teachers and staff played a pivotal role in facilitating a smooth transition for students. Recognizing the impact of the snowstorm, they worked diligently to accommodate the challenges, emphasizing the importance of adaptability during unforeseen weather events. This approach aimed to ensure students could seamlessly reintegrate into their academic pursuits despite the disruptions caused by the wintry weather. Despite the challenges posed by the snowstorm, Whiting High School maintained a strong sense of community. The collaborative efforts of students, faculty, and staff exemplified a practical and united response to the situation. 

What's coming up? 

As the school year progresses, the seniors at Whiting High School are quietly looking forward to graduation. These students have already started counting down the days until graduation – the end of their high school journey and the beginning of a new chapter. 

“Honestly, I can’t wait to get out of here soon. This countdown helps me push through these next few months,” said Senior Alvaro Ornelas.

For the graduating class of Whiting High School, reaching this milestone is a culmination of academic achievements, personal growth, and memorable experiences. As they approach the final stretch of their high school careers, seniors are reflecting on the friendships formed, lessons learned, and transformative moments that have shaped their time at Whiting High School. The anticipation of graduation serves as a reminder of their accomplishments and the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.

Whiting High School will be busy as seniors prepare to say farewell to their high school years in the coming weeks. As the school year concludes, the seniors eagerly look forward to turning their tassels, tossing their caps in the air, and stepping into the next chapter of their lives with a sense of accomplishment and anticipation.

Staff spotlight: 

Kelly Morando, a significant face of Whiting High School's science department, effectively handles the challenges of instructing biology and earth science, covering a range of classes such as AP Environmental Science, AP Biology, and regular/honors biology. Having been a volleyball player at Whiting High School recently, Morando is intimately acquainted with the workings of life at the school. As a crucial member of her community, the science department owes much of its recent identity to her presence.

Morando is well aware of the challenges involved in her biology and earth science classes. She actively works to create an inviting classroom environment that ignites students' curiosity, a common aspect of the scientific field.

“Students come to school each day carrying with them so many burdens – socially, emotionally, mentally, and academically. I try to create an environment in my classroom where students feel welcomed, a place where they want to be,” said Morando.

Reflecting on her beginnings as a teacher during her graduate student years, Morando finds a meaningful connection to her days as a student. This serves as a humble tieback as she dedicates herself to guiding the next generation.

“Graduating with a biology degree, I started substituting at Whiting High School. With a little one at home, it was a nice break. I enjoyed the ‘teacher’ aspect of school after being a student for so long. I decided to go back to school for my teaching certification, and the rest is history,” said Morando.

The perception of science varies depending on the individual. Morando strives to ensure her science classes are engaging and intriguing for her students.

“In its nature, science is hands-on. Finding labs and activities that help explain certain hard-to-grasp concepts is something that I try to do when planning the curriculum,” said Morando.

Taking over from the retired Dan Nichols, Morando recognized the need to navigate uncharted territories with the AP curriculum. Her experience with teaching both AP Environmental Science and AP Biology has been thoroughly enjoyable for her.

“In my brief AP curriculum experience, I've found that quality professional development significantly enhances the science curriculum. The courses I've attended for AP Environmental Science have been excellent, and I'm eager to participate in similar ones for AP Biology this year,” said Morando. 

Teachers have lives beyond education; they're not just walking textbooks. After a day at Whiting High School, Morando recharges her battery—both the metaphorical and the one powering her phone.

“Outside the school year, I maintain a low profile, occupied with my children's summer activities and a passion for sports, particularly attending a few Sox games each season. With the upcoming Paris Summer Olympics, I'm eager to watch. As my youngest is now 3, I hope to travel more,” said Morando.

Whiting High School students highly value Morando's role in science education. With her diverse responsibilities, she is esteemed as a valued teacher at Whiting High School, effectively bringing a joyful touch to the challenges within the realm of science.

Student spotlight:

As Whiting High School wraps up its first semester, it begins the routine task of ranking its student body. Leading the Class of 2025 is Elizabeth Strezo, who holds the top position. Known for her academic prowess and friendly demeanor, Strezo embodies the values of excellence and community within Whiting High School’s halls.

Since her freshman year, Strezo has remained focused on her coursework, demonstrating admirable determination in pursuing her interests throughout high school journey.

“I consistently secured a spot on the A Honor Roll since freshman year, ranking number one. Math's simplicity makes it enjoyable with minimal homework, and I'm captivated by the fascinating intricacies of biology, exploring the structure and functions of living organisms,” said Strezo.

As junior year reaches its midpoint, Strezo begins considering her plans for life after high school. Similar to other top achievers, she consistently sets and achieves her goals with thoughtful planning.

“My main goal for the future is to become a vet student at Purdue University, West Lafayette since they’re the number one vet school in the state. I would also love to get the veterinary scholarship from Purdue, which would guarantee me a spot in the vet program,” said Strezo.

Being outstanding goes beyond academic achievements. Strezo has actively participated in various extracurricular activities throughout the years, ensuring a well-rounded profile that will undoubtedly distinguish her on college applications.

“I’ve participated in the Science Olympiad since freshman year; it aids my science and engineering classes by providing background knowledge. Beyond school, I've volunteered at the Munster Humane Society for over a year, joined Purdue's 4-H society, and shadowed at an animal clinic, witnessing my first surgery—a French Bulldog neuter,” said Strezo.

Outside academic demands, Strezo seeks comfort in hobbies providing a break from school pressures. These activities reveal a fuller spectrum of the student experience.

“I love spending time volunteering at the Humane Society because I get to work with a bunch of cats and kittens. This is extremely special to me because I get to see the different personalities and character traits of each one, and it’s super rewarding when I find the right family for them,” said Strezo.

Strezo is an outstanding student who stands out for her remarkable qualities. While she still has another year before graduation, her dedication should be celebrated. Recognizing Strezo's unwavering dedication, her journey serves as an inspiration to her peers. With a steadfast commitment to academic excellence and a warm presence in social circles, Strezo embodies the values of hard work and meaningful connections.

“Strive for your best and maintain hope in your dreams. Prioritize quality time with family and friends, as they provide crucial support. Remember, don't just wish for it—work for it,” said Strezo.