#1StudentNWI: Valparaiso Gymnastics placed as Runner-ups at State

#1StudentNWI: Valparaiso Gymnastics placed as Runner-ups at State

What's recently happened?

The Valparaiso High School (VHS) Gymnastics team recently competed at the State finals located at Ball State University on March 9. The opening ceremonies started at 11 a.m. followed by the competition at 11:30 a.m. ET. 

VHS Gymnastics competed against a variety of teams including Crown Point High School, Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger High School, Columbus North High School, Lake Central High School, and more. In the team competition, the VHS team placed second overall behind Crown Point, who took first place. The gymnasts received a team score of 109.25 at the meet. 

Following team scores, a few VHS gymnasts placed in the division for individual 

Senior Gymnast Chloe Ochman placed sixth all-around with a score of 37.125 against numerous competitors. Ochman tied for ninth place on vault, 12th place on bars, seventh on beam, and 13th on floor. In addition, Sophomore Ava Moe placed sixth on the beam, tied for second on the bars and placed 10th all-around. 

In addition to the gymnastics team, a few individuals were named to the Duneland Athletic All-Conference team. These gymnasts were Ochman, Junior Ione Skafish, and Moe. 

What’s coming up? 

The AP/IB Honors Art Show will be held on April 11 and 12. The show is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will be located in the VHS Upper Gym. Students producing artwork for the Honors Art Show have been working extremely hard creating pieces and planning their booths since the beginning of the school year. 

William Barber, an honors art teacher, highlights the significance of the Honors Art Show. 

“The Honors Art Show has been one of the things that has been solely my responsibility. It’s a lot of work but also a lot of fun too,” Barber said. 

Many students are also very excited to show off their artwork and the hard work they have put into the class this year. The students have been getting their final artwork finished for the show. Additionally, many teachers will take their classes to look at the student's hard work during class the day after the artists set up. 

Staff spotlight:

Matthew Thomas is a teacher and instructional coach for VHS. Thomas currently teaches Advanced Freshman English in the afternoon and mentors about 25 teachers in the morning. Thomas is a VHS alumnus and obtained his undergraduate degree from Indiana University in English education and his master’s in education from Olivet Nazarene University. Thomas is in his 17th year of teaching at VHS and 27th year of teaching altogether. 

In Thomas’s free time, he enjoys spending time with his kids, Grace and Owen, and watching them run cross country and track. Thomas spends a lot of time cycling and working out. 

Thomas mentions his favorite thing about teaching students.

“Kids keep you young. They see the world differently than adults, and that's good. Kids may be bored at times, but they can also be idealistic, creative, ambitious, and hilarious. I've always liked the science of teaching – pedagogy. There's a method to this madness. Not everyone can take a room full of 30 random kids and engage them; it's a powerful feeling when you know it's happening.  Even though it can be a grind, there's a lot of fulfillment when a kid lets you know that you made a positive impact on their life,” Thomas said. 

Finally, Thomas offers advice for students to think about. 

“I think people should walk into a situation and ask ‘What can I give?’ instead of ‘What's in this for me?’ I also think it's important to be grateful. Admittedly, I've struggled with being self-absorbed and ungrateful, and so I know the damage that can have on one's mind over time. On the flip side, I feel pretty good when I'm grateful and selfless,” Thomas said.

Student spotlight:

Brody Nelson is a senior this school year and is involved in numerous activities within VHS. These include Unified Track and Field, Unified Flag Football, Student Council as the Student Body President, National Honor Society, and Earth Awareness Club. 

Nelson has grown as a person through these activities and has realized many things. 

“Being involved in these activities has made me realize the importance of being a team player. In Unified Sports as well as Student Council, you must work as a team to accomplish your goals. Whether it is on the field or in the classroom you should always support your teammate,” Nelson said. 

Additionally, Nelson believes that getting involved in school activities is a huge benefit to yourself. 

“Get involved. High school can be so boring if you don’t put yourself out there. While it may be hard, and you may be nervous, join something. You don’t have to run for president, but join just one club or one sport. Trust me – you won’t regret it,” Nelson said. 

Nelson has committed to Ball State University to double major in sports management and business. Nelson is currently working as a Ninja Zone Instructor at Perpetual Motion which relates to his future major. 

“Working with people and being involved in the management part of sports is something I look forward to in my career,” Nelson said. “My favorite part about my job is working with kids. They are so fun to be around as well as positive and funny. I love being able to keep them active and passionate about being active.”