#1StudentNWI News Feed - NWILife https://nwi.life Mon, 20 Jan 2020 15:14:45 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 #1StudentNWI: RiseNWI empowers local citizens https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-risenwi-empowers-local-citizens/ Fri, 17 Jan 2020 15:32:19 +0000 Nicholas Fortin https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-risenwi-empowers-local-citizens/ Rise NWI is an important nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in Northwest Indiana that focuses on civic engagement. Their mission statement states, “RiseNWI empowers local citizens to be strong advocates for improved quality of life in Northwest Indiana. We provide the training, resources, and networks necessary to equip all citizens to be active participants in their communities.”

“In early 2017, Ryan Strode and I came together to form a series of workshops on civic engagement for residents in the Northwest Indiana region,” said Sarah Ferraro, founder of RiseNWI. “The ideas and need for the content came from the rising level of engagement, people asking questions, and need to demystify local government aspects in the Region.”

Ferraro and Strode designed a series of workshops called “Civic Engagement Boot Camp,” the first training for which was held in April, 2017 in Miller.

“Forty-five people showed up to learn about being more civic-minded, engaged, and where to get started through a training about the 2018 political landscape, what each position is responsible for, and how to contact your elected officials, as well as what to consider when interested in running for office,” Ferraro said. 

Over the next three months, CEBC held workshops in Miller, Portage, and Schererville to offer citizens opportunities to learn and work with professionals in campaign management and local elected officials in all aspects of building a campaign, voter contact, registering voters, and being heard through written voice by writing to elected officials and letters to the editor. Through this period of time, CEBC had trained over 150 residents through the series of free workshops.

Strode and Ferraro began writing a grant to seek funding to continue their efforts. In late 2017, CEBC became RiseNWI when the grant was in place and approved to be housed through the Legacy Foundation and funded by the Knight Foundation. The name change led to building another series of workshops in the late fall called “Local Elections Matter,” where guest speakers from the Lake County Elections board held workshops about getting involved and filing to run for office. 

RiseNWI was a hit with former State Rep and Lieutenant Governor candidate Christina Hale as keynote speaker on “Finding Your Why: Running for Office.” 

“Since then, RiseNWI continues to build meaningful content in small and large scale workshops, online and printed materials to help residents become better informed, engaged and civically active citizens,” Ferraro said.

Helping people become active citizens is one of Ferraro’s favorite aspects of working with RiseNWI.

“Our ideas truly come from the people who attend, and I am proud that RiseNWI offers opportunities for all ages and all levels. Seeing people who have attended a workshop take off in their own way by running for office or writing a letter to the editor is a great source of pride,” she said. “I truly believe that RiseNWI has only hit the tip of the iceberg in what we can offer with civic engagement in Lake County and beyond!”

Ferraro is looking toward the future of RiseNWI.

“I am excited about the programs RiseNWI continues to design for residents’ needs. RiseNWI has offered workshops at branches of the Lake County Public Library, and we continue to build partnerships and offer refined engagement tools for unique communities around Lake County,” she said. 

If your organization would like more information about the tools RiseNWI provides, please reach out to Community Engagement coordinator, Maranda Fishback (maranda@risenwi.org) to get started.

RiseNWI helps people know about who is on the ballot by using vote411.org, and anyone in Lake County can use that resource to help research who to vote for on the ballot. They also host events, such as letter to the editor training, canvassing training, and more, and they attend parades to hand out flyers. Such events are important because they promote civic engagement, inform the public, and encourage people to vote.

RiseNWI is an important nonprofit and nonpartisan organization in Northwest Indiana. Their goal is to make the public more aware and more active in local government by encouraging more people to vote, ensuring that we all have a say in who our elected officials are. 

#1StudentNWI: RiseNWI empowers local citizens
#1StudentNWI: Griffith High School Starts New Decade with 2020 Vision https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-griffith-high-school-starts-new-decade-with-2020-vision/ Thu, 16 Jan 2020 15:28:05 +0000 Liana Boulles https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-griffith-high-school-starts-new-decade-with-2020-vision/ PAP: Preparing GHS Alumni for Adulthood

Panther Adult Pathway Program (PAP) began at Griffith High School in 2019, and with the start of a new decade, it was time to re-visit this revolutionary adult course. Taught by job coaches Amy Gidley and Sarah Velasquez, PAP teaches young adults with special needs how to be independent, focusing on how to keep a home and a job. Almost all of the students are Griffith alumni.

“The program serves special needs students ages 18-22 and teaches them life skills,” said Gidley. “It’s also in place to teach them skills used in different workplaces so they can become employable.” 

The classroom is designed to resemble an apartment including couches, a clothing rack, and cooking equipment. The students learn how to live independently. They learn how to cook meals, which involves reading recipes and grocery shopping, how to use appliances, how to keep their home clean, and how to entertain guests. Gidley hopes to get a bigger learning space in the future; She wants to include a stove, washing machine, and dryer. For now, they use a microwave and toaster oven to cook and visit the laundromat to learn how to do their laundry.

“They volunteer at different workplaces where they learn skills to be employable,” said Gidley. “They volunteered at the Northwest Indiana Food Bank, Animal Control, a horse stable where they cleaned stalls and fed the horses.”

One of the most notable workplaces they’ve visited is Recycled Granite, a company that only hires special needs employees and breaks up granite countertops to reuse them for landscaping and art. 

“I get pictures of [student] Nicholas [Sharp] doing things at home,” said Gidley. “My favorite thing is when the kids’ parents tell me, ‘Oh, they did the dishes,’ or cooked a meal. Things they don’t normally do.”

Student Spotlight

Griffith senior Curtis Carter is co-editor of the Reflector, Griffith High School’s yearbook. He started out in publications in eighth grade and has since become one of the most experienced journalism and yearbook students at GHS. He’s also publications’ class savior; He and co-editor Emily Keck fought to keep yearbook and newspaper as a class for the 2019-2020 school year as teachers and classes were cut, including longtime publications advisor Kristina Collard. 

“At the time, Mrs. Collard was still the advisor for publications, so Emily and I felt it was our responsibility to try and get the classes back for us and for her,” said Carter. “We already had the theme and editors picked out for the 2019-2020 book, and we weren’t going to give up so easily.” 

Carter and Keck spoke at school board meetings, advocating to have a publications class instead of the activity being demoted as an after school club. Thanks to their efforts, Newspaper and Yearbook are a combined class that works together to tell the school’s stories. 

As editor, Carter is responsible for ensuring the yearbook is completed with the highest quality possible. For 2019-2020, the theme is 2020 Vision. Every spread (two yearbook pages that face each other) must be planned, designed, and edited to fit the theme. It’s a yearlong process that Carter and Keck divide into deadlines and build from the blank page.

“When we logged into eDesign at the beginning of the year, we had completely blank spreads. We started off the year by creating a ladder, a sheet that has page numbers where you plan the spreads –what page is going to be what spread. After creating a paper spread, we named all of the spreads on eDesign and set deadlines so the computer would tell reporters when the spreads are going to be due. After that, we just started designing Deadline 1 and began assigning spreads to reporters.”

Carter begins a spread by placing the headline and story, written by the assigned reporter, in the template. He chooses the dominant photo with three to four additional pictures and strives to give each spread a unique element, such as a sidebar. His most important job, however, is proofing.

“I look through the current deadline, find any edits or anything that needs to be done, and then I write them down. If something’s off, or there are design flaws, I’ll fix it,” Carter said. “We [Emily and I] split the work half and half and broke the book up into sections such as academics, student life, and sports.”

Carter and Keck have many responsibilities but love the work that they do.

“As one of two students with the most experience in journalism and yearbook, I felt it was my responsibility to make sure that this book was carried through and published at the end of the year,” Carter said.

Carter also works at Strack & Van Til. He plans to attend the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, Bloomington to double major in Business Finance and Accounting. “I’m really looking forward to being in a new environment and accept any opportunities that could come my way.” 

Staff Spotlight

Miranda Peterson came to Griffith High School this year as the new advanced English and publications teacher. Before coming to GHS, Peterson was a lecturer at Purdue University Northwest in Hammond with a background in communications and media. She was also a librarian and media specialist at Hammond High School. This is her first year teaching high school English.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the high school classroom for the first time, as I was a Library & Media Specialist last school year,” said Peterson. “Learning the school’s operations and curriculum has been challenging, but very rewarding.”

Peterson teaches AP English Language and Composition, English 12, and a combined class of newspaper and yearbook. Teaching at Griffith has proved an educational experience, to say the least. Peterson had to adjust from being a librarian and lecturer to a full-time teacher of seniors. Instead of preparing lectures for a mature college audience twice a week, lessons are daily for high schoolers with “close[ness] in age, but… a difference in maturity and motivation.” She has also had to learn how to run a yearbook and newspaper with help from the editors. 

“I love tapping into my communications background, and sharing new information with the publications students,” gushed Peterson. “Teaching yearbook and newspaper at the same time has been interesting, as I have to balance the time I spend working with each staff. I can blend some direction and lessons, but they are separate publications that need designated guidance. The biggest challenge has been gaining the trust of the staff. Following in the footsteps of an excellent teacher is wonderful because all the students are trained and dedicated. However, they are hesitant to transition to new leadership.”

So far, Peterson thoroughly enjoys her work. She tries to find material that feels relevant to her students and nourishes their literary talents. Being a young teacher, she finds it easier to relate to students. 

“So far, it has been a great experience. My goals for this include updating the English 12 curriculum, revamping the publications department, and trying to create an even work/life balance. I have learned from my students, colleagues, and administration team, and look forward to growing as an educator.”

What’s Coming Up

Turnabout, the school’s winter formal, will be taking over the hearts and minds of teenagers on January 31. Girls get to ask boys out through creative, sweet proposals. The dance will take place at Patrician Banquets in Schererville. Students must stay until sixth period before leaving to get ready for the ball. 

Middle School Drama Night is on February 7, 8, and 9. It consists of four one-act plays directed by high school drama students and performed by middle schoolers. The purpose of middle school drama is to give younger pupils a chance to find their footing in theater and groom the next generation of high school starlets. 

Band and choir are gearing up for ISSMA District Solo and Ensemble on February 8, at Munster Middle School. Musicians will be performing solos and multi-player pieces to be analyzed by judges from all over the Region. They will receive a rating, feedback, and a medal (bronze, silver, or gold) based on their musicianship. Soloists and ensembles that receive a gold rating in Group I, the most advanced division, advance to State Solo and Ensemble.

#1StudentNWI: Griffith High School Starts New Decade with 2020 Vision
#1StudentNWI: Gymnastics and business at Hobart High School https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-gymnastics-and-business-at-hobart-high-school/ Thu, 16 Jan 2020 14:49:53 +0000 Katy Webber https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-gymnastics-and-business-at-hobart-high-school/ Hobart Gymnastics 

When it comes to athletics there are always the sports people immediately think of, such as football and soccer. Few people think immediately of gymnastics. Gymnastics is an athletic activity in which the people involved work very hard in for the same reasons that football players and baseball players work hard: because they love the sport. Gymnasts love the endurance that it takes to be a part of this team, and they love getting to exercise and make the work look pretty in the process. 

The gymnasts of Hobart High School are having a Chick fil-a drive Tuesday, January 21 to raise money for their team. This event will take place from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Merrillville Chick fil-a location. The girls of the team hope to raise enough money to make this year’s season one for the books.

Business Professionals of America

New clubs come into high schools all the time, but new clubs taking off and actually staying around are rare and can be considered slim to none. The newest club to lay down roots here at Hobart High School is the brand new Business Professionals of America, which is essentially for people who are interested in pursuing business. This club had its first ever meeting on Tuesday, January 14 directly after school in room 1314, and will take place again on January 28.

The kickoff meeting of 2020 started with setting goals for the New Year and learning how to actually achieve those goals. If students are interested in digital communication and design, management, marketing, communication, virtual multimedia, web and mobile application, start up enterprise, finance/accounting, business administration, or management information systems, they are encouraged to join.

Teacher Spotlight

When it comes to business management, Valentine Torres is the best teacher around, or at least that’s what her students say. Torres is no stranger to Hobart High School—she’s been here for a few years and has loved every second of it. She loves being able to teach her students about the skill that she is passionate about: business.

Recently, Torres has seen the number of people who are interested in business grow tremendously, so she decided to start a brand new club, hopefully one that will attract the attention of people who are considering going into this field. 

Torres is now the head of the Business Professionals of America club, where students who are interested in any of the major aspects of business can get the chance to expand their knowledge and skills to better their future. Students involved also have the chance to meet new people who have a similar hobby to them and find the business world just as fascinating. Torres is very excited to see where this club leads the new generation of business managers. 

Student Spotlight

When it comes to all around good people, Iyanna Steele is one of the best. Many agree and say that just seeing Steele smile at them in the hallway or wave at them from across the cafeteria makes their days better. She loves making people smile and feel better about themselves, and she always has. She can be described as selfless to the core and the sweetest person in the world.

Of course, there is more to Steele than just her amazing personality. She is involved in Hobart High School’s theatre department and has been for three years now. She started theatre during her sophomore year, performing in The Wizard of Oz as an ensemble member. She loved the experience of theatre so much that she decided to audition for the spring play, You Can’t Take it With You and got her first supporting role of Essie. She decided to stick with theatre for the entirety of her high school career. She especially loves the choreography aspect of it. 

Steele said the reason she loves the choreography of theatre so much steams from her background in gymnastics. She has been in gymnastics for most of her life and is currently a part of the gymnastics team at Hobart High School. Steele hopes to continue with her love of gymnastics and theatre,  and wishes everyone luck in the future. 

#1StudentNWI: Gymnastics and business at Hobart High School
#1StudentNWI: Highland January Update https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-highland-january-update/ Sun, 12 Jan 2020 03:43:28 +0000 Tyler Prendergast https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-highland-january-update/ Student Spotlight: Danielle Rubalcaba

The new year is full of opportunities for Highland High School Junior Danielle Rubalcaba, who is a Track and Field athlete.

Rubalcaba, who is a thrower, is ready to get started with the new season.

“I’m hoping to be at my best this season, and enjoy it too.”

This is Danielle’s second season on the Track and Field team.

“I started track last year, and it was a great experience. I really wish I had started sooner during my freshman year!”

Danielle knows that working hard at practice is an important aspect of succeeding on the field. 

“I participate in both shot put and discus and I work hard so I can succeed in both events.”

Although she looks forward to being on the field and competing, she also likes to spend time improving. 

“I enjoy training because I get to lift during conditioning and practice my form before the season starts.”  

Being part of the team is a big responsibility, but Rubalcaba embraces it. 

“I have practice almost every day, so being in track is time-consuming, but it’s worth it. It also helps me develop a good work ethic.”

Danielle also knows that being on the team isn’t a one-woman show. 

“Being in track and being a part of a team is beneficial to myself and my fellow teammates as we develop and grow together. We are able to cheer each other on and support one another.”

As a member of the team, Danielle is able to see all of the great things that come from it. 

“Being in track has been very beneficial as it’s a great way for me to challenge myself, but more importantly, I gained some great friends.”

As the season continues, it seems certain that Rubalcaba will improve on herself, as well as help her team get better. 

The first competitive meet will be on Mar. 7.

What’s Happened Recently: A New Semester

It’s a brand new semester at Highland High School when classes resumed on Jan. 6 after the new year.

Although it’s still January, spring sports are on the horizon. Baseball, Softball, Boys’ Golf, Tennis, and Track and Field athletes are getting ready for their upcoming athletic seasons, as well as beginning conditioning.

Winter sports will also continue and finish up their seasons within the new year, giving Highland students plenty of different athletic teams to root for during this semester. 

What’s Coming Up: Turnabout Dance

Highland High School’s winter Turnabout dance is coming up soon!

The dance will be held at Villa Cesare, a banquet hall in Schererville, and all Highland students are invited to attend.

The dance will be on Dec. 17 and will be three hours long. It will start at 7:00 p.m. and last until 10:00 p.m. 

There will also be a spirit week later on in January! This week will allow students to dress up as a different theme for each day. 

With the dance quickly approaching, it gives Highland students something to look forward to as they ease back into another semester of learning. 

#1StudentNWI: Highland January Update
December 2019 #1StudentNWI Recap https://nwi.life/video/december-2019-1studentnwi-recap/ Thu, 09 Jan 2020 19:28:13 +0000 Stacey Kellogg https://nwi.life/video/december-2019-1studentnwi-recap/ December 2019 #1StudentNWI Recap #1StudentNWI: Whiting High School ends the year with music and memories https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-whiting-high-school-ends-the-year-with-music-and-memories/ Sun, 29 Dec 2019 21:30:05 +0000 Alena Baez https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-whiting-high-school-ends-the-year-with-music-and-memories/ What has happened:

The Whiting Band and Choir Christmas Concert went very well this year. It started with NHS and was followed by the Middle School Band. On the last song of the performance, the Whiting High School Band joined in, playing Canon on Christmas. Following the middle school and high school’s performance together, the High School Choir was brought in to sing four Christmas songs, one being a well-harmonized song between the sopranos and altos.

The band was the final performance, playing six songs beautifully. On the last song, they brought in alumni for a final rendition of A Festive Christmas Celebration. Being able to include both choir and band alumni in the celebration of Christmas was enjoyable for all Whiting students.

Before winter break began, the seniors celebrated Christmas with a Senior Holiday Breakfast on the last day. It began before school at 6 a.m, and ended before school started at 7:30. The senior class provided a variety of breakfast food includingpancakes, waffles, sausage, bacon, eggs, and beverages. There was also a raffle for a chance to win gift cards and an ugly Christmas sweater contest for the chance to win a Keurig coffee machine! Senior Elizabeth was the winner of the contest thanks to her exotic Christmas sweater!

The holiday breakfast was a memorable bonding activity for the seniors before they leave to enjoy their last high school winter break. They played Christmas music and enjoyed a nice breakfast together. For senior class secretary Parker Jennings, “Being able to talk to everyone before starting break, to hear their plans, was fun.”

What’s coming up:

The Band and Choir Solo and Ensemble competition is coming up this January. A walk past the band room will allow you to hear the soloists practicing for the upcoming show. Both the choir and band have chosen songs from the ISSMA list that they prefered. In the division 1 song list, those who obtain a gold in the competition will be able to continue on to the state competition in Indianapolis. After the competition, the band and choir will celebrate their achievements with a trip to Buca Di Beppo, a dinner tradition each year.

The Whiting High School Play is another exciting event coming up. This year, the drama club is performing Disney’s musical Freaky Friday. It is a humorous play about a mother and daughter whohave a hard time understanding each other, causing them to switch lives. The two characters arespotlighted all throughout the play, highlighting both the struggle and purpose in each of their lives. It is set to be an exciting musical in March that students and director Mr. Allen are excited to show after their hard work. 

Student Spotlight:

Sergio Hernandez is a studious senior who is always trying new things. He has participated in cross-country, National Honor Society, student council, and Science Olympiad. Hernandez is a hard worker in both academics and extracurriculars.

Hernandez is currently taking three AP classes duringthe second trimester, of which include computer science, calculus, and language and composition. On top of those courses, he began working with Science Olympiad this year. He is a part of the C team and medaled in circuit lab at the Whiting Invite. Hernandez is the type of individual who sets a goal and works hard to achieve it.

Not only does he work well in academics, but also in different activities at school. He participates in most all events to make his and others’ senior years’ worth it. He helped in building dances and upcoming senior events such as breakfasts, the picnic, and various decisions for graduation festivities. He is also an avid volunteer on behalf of NHS, attending festivals, bake sales, care centers, and charity events around Whiting.

Hernandez is an attentive, active, and polite student. He challenges himself and prepares for his future. He plans to graduate and continue his learning by studying computer science, while also working on his hobbies of fitness and photography. It is safe to say he is someone who does the most for his future and the future of others.

#1StudentNWI: Whiting High School ends the year with music and memories
#1StudentNWI: WTHS students wish happy birthday to statistics teacher with a Chicago Cubs-themed cake https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-wths-students-wish-happy-birthday-to-statistics-teacher-with-a-chicago-cubs-themed-cake/ Sun, 29 Dec 2019 18:55:20 +0000 Zoe Brickner https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-wths-students-wish-happy-birthday-to-statistics-teacher-with-a-chicago-cubs-themed-cake/ Typically, students dislike math. Whether it be because the numbers just don’t add up, or because equations swirl around their brains, math is one of the core classes that poses a struggle to most students. With math being a crucial component to test scores and college readiness, schools need to ensure that teachers are preparing their students in the best possible way. It really does start with the teachers. 

Daniel Leighty is one of the teachers in Washington Township’s math department. After graduating from Valparaiso University, he taught at Lake Station before coming to Washington for a total of six years.

The highest class that Mr. Leighty instructs is AP Statistics. Composed of only ten seniors, Mr. Leighty deals with a small group of students that lose more and more motivation as the year goes by. However, his superb teaching and relational skills keep the students engaged, even on their most rambunctious days. 

As simple as it is, the best word to describe his classroom environment is “fun.” Especially in his stats class, Mr. Leighy excels at incorporating a variety of interesting activities into his curriculum. 

Sarah Walker, a senior, has had Mr. Leighty multiple times throughout high school and is taking AP Statistics with him this year. She loves Mr. Leighty because, “He genuinely cares about his job, and you can tell.”

With Mr. Leighty’s birthday in November, his AP Stats class wanted to surprise him. After a turn of events, however, the party got pushed back to Wednesday the 18th, the last class of the semester. During lunch, the students blew up balloons and hung up decorations in his room. To bewilder Mr. Leighty even more, the class chipped in to purchase a cake decorated with Cubs-colored frosting and a very pixelated picture of himself.

Mr. Leighty spoke from his heart to his class saying, “I really and truly appreciate it. You make teaching this class fun. I’m looking forward to second semester, it’s got a lot of great things.”

What has happened: Band and Choir Winter Concert

For this year’s annual band and choir winter concert, the students had the amazing opportunity to perform at Valparaiso University’s chapel. After months of preparation, both the middle and high school’s bands and choirs played on Monday, December 9th. Compared to the usual gym set-up, this gorgeous venue was a nice change. 

Junior clarinet player Lizzy Roger said, “I liked the chapel because it felt like a better scene.”

A few of the students had never been inside the chapel, so the elaborate wooden architecture pleasantly surprised them. For many, this ambiance helped put them in the performing mindset. 

The winter concert was the sixth grade band’s first performance of the year. Knowing it was going to be at the chapel excited Ainsely Goetz, who plays the tenor saxophone, and Abby Hart. 

Gotez commented, “Playing in the chapel was very fun, but it was also echoey.”

One of the most challenging aspects for any performing group is adapting to different environments. The band director, Mr. Justin Thompson, did an excellent job in reminding his students to watch him count rather than getting lost in the potential echo.

Each and every single one of the groups had a phenomenal performance, and this one was definitely one to remember. 

Student Feature: Caden Walsworth

Most musical students that play at Washington have zero previous experience when they test out different instruments to sign up for band in sixth grade. However, most is not all.

Now a junior, Caden Walsworth has been playing the drums since he was six years old, about ten years. He joined percussion in the school band since it just made sense for him. 

“I like it because it’s unique in the band and there’s a lot of different options,” said Walsworth. “There’s just a lot of opportunities to play.”

Unlike larger schools that may have a seperate concert band and marching band, Washington’s band students get to participate in each type of performance. Walsworth’s favorite is definitely pep band. With basketball being a huge part of Washington Township’s culture, it only makes sense that the band kids enjoy playing during the games just as much as other students enjoy cheering.

Walsworth likes it because, as he says, “I get to be more creative. Since there’s a solo drummer, I get to try different things.” 

During pep band, the percussionists will rotate different people on the drum set. Walsworth is a perfect candidate for this as his favorite music to play is ‘70s and ‘80s rock.

Another unique part of Washington’s pep band is the drum line. Founded about four years ago, Walsworth and senior Steve Finely are currently the leaders of the drum line now. Using marching band drums, four percussionists will play cadences during half-time for the student section. The students, who are all decked out for that game’s theme, love dancing to the beats.

For the most recent game on December 20th, the band invited graduated members back for an alumni night. Kyle Krawczyk, from the class of 2019, joined his friends back in the drum line to perform a few songs with Walsworth, Finely, and another senior, Michal Boyd.

What’s going on: Winter Break

People enjoy winter break in a variety of ways in the midwest. Whether they stay at home with their families or travel south to the warmth, the Washington Township community savors their two weeks off ofschool. The abnormally warm temperatures here this year have been quite the change for a lot of people. When the temperatures reached the low 60’s on Thursday, students did not hesitate to take a beach day in Northwest Indiana! Yet, while some people are drawn to the sand, others in NWI crave the snow.

The Mecchia family loves to ski, for instance. Junior Alexa Mecchia and her younger brother Matthew, a sophomore, travelled with their parents to Boyne Mountain in Northern Michigan. They have visited there every year since they were little kids.

Alexa loves going back because, as she says, “I get to see everything again. It never gets old and there is always something to do.”

The Mecchia’s four-day trip is filled with plenty of time on the slopes. One thing that makes Alexa stand out amongst the other skiers is her love for crazy costumes. While skiing, Mecchia looks forward to showing off her red chile pepper and elephant costumes. She said that other people wear fun clothes, too, and she loves seeing what wacky hats some of the others have to wear.

Boyne Mountain may not be any tropical beach, but for people like the Mecchia’s, it is just as nice of a get-away. 

#1StudentNWI: WTHS students wish happy birthday to statistics teacher with a Chicago Cubs-themed cake
#1StudentNWI: Bishop Noll Institute gives back and transitions into STREAM https://nwi.life/article/bishop-noll-institute-gives-back-and-transitions-into-stream/ Fri, 27 Dec 2019 21:30:07 +0000 Mary Buksa https://nwi.life/article/bishop-noll-institute-gives-back-and-transitions-into-stream/ This year’s annual Bishop Noll Institute (BNI) Thanksgiving food drive was the best it has ever been. Within a few short weeks, Bishop Noll students, teachers, and staff collected over 10,000 canned goods, which was double the amount of cans donated last year. The cans were then donated to Saint Joseph Soup Kitchen in Hammond.

Students were rewarded for their abundant donations. Anyone who brought ten or more cans received a “comfy day.” This entitled them to wear comfy clothes to school. Students who brought 25 or more cans had both a “comfy day” and a movie day. They were called down to the auditorium and got to watch Shrek. The top few students who brought in the most cans got to drop them off at the food bank. 

What’s coming up?

Bishop Noll’s STREAM lab is officially open for classes. The STREAM lab’s grand opening was in November but will officially be open for classes starting the first week back to school. Classes that will be in the lab are the STEM classes for the 8th graders and the freshmen engineering classes. Other classes are also welcomed to use the facility. After-school programs, such as robotics club and Science Olympiad, will use the lab for meetings.

The $1.45 million STREAM lab is a great addition to Bishop Noll. Students will be able to use this new space to learn and improve their science, technology, engineering, and math skills, as well as skills exploring religion and the arts, two of the school’s curricular hallmarks.

Staff spotlight

Miss Stacia Bolakowski, Bishop Noll’s campus minister, has been working in education for 31 years. Prior to becoming the campus minister, she taught 25 years in the following departments: English, Speech, Journalism, and Theology. She has also been a youth minister for 23 years. 

One of the numerous things Bolakowski does at Bishop Noll is lead retreats. Every year, she puts together the freshmen retreat, El Camino for sophomores, Kairos for juniors, and the senior service retreat. 

“I have a special place in my heart for the Kairos program. But I really love to lead the El Camino retreats for sophomores. Why? Because the retreat was developed for BNI students by BNI students,” Bolakowski said. 

Bolakowski also sets up mass once a month for BNI students to attend, as well as chapel services after school. She and the campus ministry team organize different service projects such as Adopt-A-Friend and Catholic Schools Week. Adopt-A-Friend is a service project in which each BNI homeroom receives the name of a person who is in need of something for Christmas. The homeroom then brings in money and shops for toys, clothes, and other gifts for their person. 

This year, Bolakowski is also the National Honor Society Advisor. She is in charge of overseeing the members, meetings, and NHS sponsored blood drives.

 “I simply enjoy working with students committed to their education and making Bishop Noll the best it can be,” Bolakowski said.

In Bolakowski’s free time, she likes to read, go to the movies, and spend time with her friends and family. Bishop Noll is so lucky to have Bolakowski as part of their school family.

Student Spotlight

Freshman Luke Buksa is all about trying new things at Bishop Noll. Over this past summer, he decided he was going to play football at Noll. He had never played football before but with hard work and dedication he quickly learned the ins and outs. He ended up receiving his varsity letter at the end of the season. 

“My favorite part of this football season was all the game days because there is nothing like Friday night lights,” Buksa said. 

Along with football, Buksa joined the swim team. He hadn’t swam competitively since he was in 3rd grade. On the swim team, he swims the backstroke and freestyle.

“My favorite part of swimming are the meets because we get to see all of our hard work pay off,” Buksa said.

In the spring, Buksa plans on running track and getting more involved in campus ministry at BNI. 

Buksa continues the Bishop Noll legacy as being the fifth member in his immediate family to attend Noll. Buksa also has numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins who are BNI alumni. Buksa has a sister who is a junior at BNI and has another sister who will be joining the BNI family next school year. 

“My favorite part of BNI is the family atmosphere. Everyone knows everyone,” Buksa said.

When Buksa isn’t playing football, swimming, or running, he likes to watch TV, hang out with friends, and cook. 

#1StudentNWI: Bishop Noll Institute gives back and transitions into STREAM
#1STUDENTNWI: End of the year at Munster High School https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-end-of-the-year-at-munster-high-school/ Thu, 26 Dec 2019 16:04:33 +0000 Aleena Mongerie https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-end-of-the-year-at-munster-high-school/ What’s Happened Recently

The Lady Mustangs continue to plow through each girls basketball team they play, holding an 11-0 record on the season.

Although it was finals week, the members of the Class Executives Council (CEC) came together to fast forward and work on some ideas for a prom theme…to be continued!

On Dec. 22, Michael Schlotman organized the first Annual Munster Alumni Basketball Game. The funds raised from this great event will go to both Alzheimer’s and Munster High Athletics department.

Teacher Spotlight:

When they hear the name Bernadette Grabowski, many would think of their fifth-grade teacher at Frank Hammond. Others may shout, “That’s my freshmen girls’ basketball coach!” Still, others would recall being her teammate. This is because Grabowski was once a student-athlete at Munster High school who graduated in 2013. She went on to play basketball on a collegiate level for Indiana University Northwest. Grabowski knew early on that she wanted to major in Elementary Education, so she did. After completing her education at IUN, she decided to return and pour back into the community where it all started for her.

“My parents live in Munster and I know the school corporation is one of the best in the state. I wanted to coach in a place where I played,” Grabowski said.

Grabowski is the freshmen girls basketball coach and is enjoying every minute of it.

“Some things that I learned when I was a player that I use to coach my freshmen are accountability and to be coachable. When I was a player it took me some time to learn that the only way to get better is to take criticism and to be coachable,” Grabowski said.

What about game day rituals?

“Truthfully, as a player, I never really had a game day ritual. I would wake up thinking about the game and the scouting report. Depending on whether I had class, I would try and make sure to eat snacks and drink plenty of water throughout the day,” Grabowski said. “I always like to feel prepared, so usually I watched film before games. As a coach, I like to send out a game-day message. I like to remind the girls of a big day and when to arrive. I end with some motivation to get the girls ready to get a win.”

Grabowski is also planning her June wedding.

Student Spotlight:

Emily Eisha is a senior at Munster High School who is involved in both the girls basketball and girls track teams. Eisha’s basketball inspiration is Lauri Markkanen, a power forward for the Chicago Bulls. But her dream sport to play would be hockey, simply because of her love for the game. She frequently attends Black Hawks games.

Eisha continuously volunteers her time, and her favorite place to volunteer is with her church youth group. Her next step after high school is attending college, and her top choices are Butler University, Valparaiso University, and Eastern Michigan University.

“I have been accepted to all, but Butler would be my top choice because it’s close to home and near Indianapolis,” she said.

Eisha has a big heart for animals, specifically dogs. Five years from now she imagines herself having a puppy and a career that will support her as well as her dog.

What’s Coming Up

Munster High School students will return from holiday break Jan. 6, when they will begin the new year with a new semester.

With this new semester comes a clean slate for new grades, so students will be ready to work hard academically. As individuals work on their personal New Year’s resolutions, the Munster Town Council will be doing the same.

During the Town Council and Redevelopment meetings on Jan. 13, officials will discuss how to better the community for a new year. A part-time job fair will also be held from 1-5 p.m., Jan. 20 at the Munster Town Hall.

#1STUDENTNWI: End of the year at Munster High School
#1StudentNWI: December Happenings at Chesterton High School https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-december-happenings-at-chesterton-high-school/ Thu, 26 Dec 2019 15:28:48 +0000 Claire Bailey https://nwi.life/article/1studentnwi-december-happenings-at-chesterton-high-school/ Teacher Spotlight:

English teacher Rebecca Uehling is co-directing the annual children’s Winter Play alongside fellow English teacher Anne Sharp.

This year the co-directors have decided the play will be Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Students will perform for the school as well as all third graders in the district. 

“It was between Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and Peter Pan. I chose Charlie & The Chocolate Factory because it’s a favorite of mine. I thought it would be a fun time to direct it and that the kids would really enjoy it,” Uehling said.

The cast received their parts in a special delivery made by Uehling. They were handed a tasty candy bar with a golden ticket tucked inside. As the cast pulled their golden ticket out, not only were their parts revealed, but they were permitted to revisit their own childhood by working on this play.

“So far my favorite part was passing out the candy bars with golden tickets revealing the parts,” Uehling said. “For Snow White, we passed out apples and seeing the faces of the people as they received their part was such fun.”

The month prior to finals is stressful for all teachers, but especially stressful to those who start a new, huge task during that month.

“I mean, I’m spread thin as it is and it’s very stressful,” Uehling said, “but it’s all about time management. It’s nice that Mrs. Sharp and I can split rehearsals so that I can spend time with my kids.”

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory will be performed for all audiences on February 28 & 29 at 7 p.m. and March 1 at 2 p.m.

“In the end, seeing the looks on the third graders’ faces as they watch the play during their annual visit makes it worth it,” Uehling said, “as well as seeing the entire cast grow.”

Student Spotlight:

Senior Zane Trent recently auditioned for a role in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and received the lead role of Willy Wonka.

“It feels awesome. It has become a somewhat career arch even though I haven’t made any money,” Trent said. “I started off as a comic relief who got cast because someone dropped out and now I am the lead role.”

Along with performing in the winter play, Trent takes place in many other activities and clubs at Chesterton High School.

“I am also in the Creative Writers Club and Dungeons & Dragons Club. I’m in Pride Club, but I mainly go because my sister goes and I want to be supportive,” Trent said. “I have done theatre all four years of my high school career, taking place in all winter and spring plays. I did the fall play once but it wasn’t a fit.”

With a play that is exceedingly fun to perform in, the cast is bound to have a few favorite parts for rehearsing.

“I like showing up and getting in all this awesome characterization,” Trent said.

There is much to look forward to for the entire cast and crew and many opportunities to make memories and form friendships, as well as relish in the thrill of performing for a live audience.

“I am looking forward to the shows we perform for the third graders. Even though we always screw up, it’s a great run through with a live audience,” Trent said. “There’s always a mistake and it allows us to fix it before opening night Friday night.”

What’s happened:

The annual food drive took place at Chesterton High School from December 2 through the 12 with English teacher Jennifer Jendrzejczk organizing and spreading the word throughout the hallways in order to gather much-needed donations for the community.

“The food drive is an opportunity for Duneland students, faculty, and staff to give to those in need in their community,” Jendrzejczk said.

With the overall success of the holiday food drive, there is anticipation for a continuation of food drives to take place throughout the year to give students more opportunities to give to those in need.

“We have been talking about doing a spring drive as well,” Jendrzejczk said. “From talking to the food bank, we know that stores from this drive ran out in the spring, so we’re thinking about ways to help restock.”

With the food drive taking place the week before finals, many students and staff felt the pressure to give to those in need as well as stay on top of their own work.

“This time of year is stressful, but it is also magical,” Jendrzejczk said. “There are so many opportunities to bring joy, to serve others, to be an elf. I love this time of year.”

There were many other fun activities going on at CHS that brought the entire school together, making everyone feel loved and supported in the holiday season.

“We just finished our school-wide connected activity and I love it,” Jendrzejczk said. “There is one ring for each student, faculty, and staff member at CHS hanging from the balcony of CHS. “

What’s happening:

With winter break has already started for the entire Duneland School Corporation, most students have put school far from their mind and are taking time to rest and spend time with their family, forgetting that they will soon be back in their desks come January 6. Students often find it hard to return to school after the holiday break.

“I would say starting a new semester and getting back into it after the holidays and dealing with the tricky weather makes coming back after winter break harder,” said Danielle Konopasek, counselor at CHS.

“Getting back into a routine like waking up early and doing assignments is hard when coming back from winter break for students and staff alike,” said Gretchen Arthur, counselor at CHS.

There are ways to stay on track over winter break in order to make the transition back into daily school life easier.

“My advice is to get your rest now and start the new year off strong by turning in your assignments and using your resources wisely,” Konopasek said.

“I would say use your time over break to get plenty of rest and enjoy your time out of school,” said counselor James Moore. “Surround yourself with positive people, get away from devices, and engage in activities outside of those devices.”

“I recommend engaging your brain by staying away from Netflix and YouTube and reading. Start looking ahead at the next quarter and get a head start,” Arthur said.

Once school resumes on January 6, students find themselves knee deep in planning courses for their next school year and taking on more responsibility when it comes to their future.

“Some things that students should be doing once they return to school is planning for their next year,” Konopasek said. “It’s important to think about your schedule by looking at the course guide, getting involved in activities, and planning for the following year.”

“Go in there ready to work more closely with your teachers, finding ways to be more organized, and get all your homework done,” Moore said.

“For seniors, you definitely need to request transcripts and begin to think of scholarships, for juniors, it’s time to think about testing for the ACT and SAT,” Arthur said. “For underclassmen, just keep doing well in your classes and continue to try for the best grades possible.”

#1StudentNWI: December Happenings at Chesterton High School