#1StudentNWI: Washington Township High School Key Club starts the school year with a bang

#1StudentNWI: Washington Township High School Key Club starts the school year with a bang

What’s recently happened?

Washington Township High School (WTHS) recently went back to school, and there have been a few changes. School now starts at 7:45 a.m., and Senators are very excited for the later start time. WTHS has a new principal, Chris Fields, who has been doing a great job so far. There have also been a few changes to the dress code, as students are now allowed to wear ripped jeans.

The start of the school year is an exciting time for everyone, from the freshman, which everything is new for, to the seniors, who are currently starting college applications and writing out their essays. 

Clubs have been starting up again, and students are very excited to get right back into everything.

"The start of a school year is always equally stressful and exciting, but there is a rhythm to fall back into. I always look forward to Key Club as a way to make connections for my career and to help the community,” said Sophomore Ellie Siefert.

Key Club barely took a break before getting right back to work. In the month of August, Key Club volunteered at the Kiwanis Corn Roast and the Valparaiso Night Ride, two of its biggest events. 

At the corn roast, the students got the opportunity to work with what Indiana District Governor Paige Hein calls their “parent organization,” Kiwanis. The club got to do face painting and shuck a lot of corn.

At the night ride, the Key Clubbers directed traffic downtown. Every year, the Valpo Night Ride is one of Key Club’s favorite events, and the students have a lot of fun.

"Key Club is one of the best clubs a school can have because it helps a person develop leadership skills and many other valuable life skills. Key Club creates so many fun opportunities, and many friendships can be created through it. It is always great to volunteer while having fun!" said Lorelei Goetz, the Key Club webmaster.

Key Club gives students many opportunities throughout the year to make connections, get a feel for volunteering, and get involved with school. Even at the beginning of the school year, Key Club provides activities for students to do on the first week. Barbara Rea, the Key Club advisor, and the officers have done an amazing job in the past with getting students involved, and many students are excited to see what they have in store this year. 

What’s coming up?

Though the corn roast and night ride have already passed, Key Club has more exciting opportunities coming up. 

“Our WTHS Key Club has many upcoming volunteer opportunities. Concession stands, First Responder Appreciation Day, Popcorn Panic and Festival, South County Cook-off, and the Walk to End Alzheimers are the other events our Key Clubbers will serve at to kick off the school year,” said Hein.

In September, one of the biggest events of the year is taking place: the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival.

Key Club is very involved with the Popcorn Festival, but so is the WTHS Marching Band, as it is the band’s biggest performance of the year. The Popcorn Festival is a great opportunity for students to shop, get amazing food, volunteer, and have fun. 

Other clubs are starting up as well. Student Council will be starting soon, advised by Barbara Peres, and the National Honor Society will be starting inductions soon. DECA’s first meeting, run by Laci Earle, will also be having its first meeting September 8.

Staff spotlight:

Chris Fields has worked in education for 26 years, but this is his first year at WTHS. Fields has joined the WTHS community as the new principal of both the middle and high school and has already displayed his strong support for the WTHS community.

“WTHS has an excellent reputation as an academically rigorous and community-focused school. It has a proud tradition in history that I’m honored to be a part of,” said Fields

Previously Fields has worked at Merrillville High School teaching chemistry and worked in administration at Kouts High School, Benjamin Franklin Middle School, Valparaiso High School, and Kankakee Valley Middle School. Fields got his bachelor's degrees in chemistry and biology from Wabash College and got his master’s degree in secondary education from Purdue University. Before that, Fields attended Columbus East High School in Columbus, Indiana.

When not at school, Fields and his wife enjoy coming right back to watch school sporting events. Along with that, Fields enjoys camping and spending time with his family and his dog, Angus.

“What I’m most proud of is being a dad and having three wonderful, talented daughters,” Fields said.

Fields has been an amazing addition to WTHS and has already clearly shown commitment to helping the staff and students grow. 

“I'm all about growth. I want to see people grow and achieve and work towards whatever that goal is for them, and that’s what’s going to give me the greatest sense of achievement,” said Fields.

The WTHS community feels entirely grateful to Fields and is excited to see what he does.

Student spotlight:

Senior Jacy Schmidgall has lived in Valparaiso her whole life. She is incredibly involved at WTHS, being a part of the soccer team, band, Mock Trial team, and DECA. In Mock Trial, Schmidgall has won “Best Witness” three times and has qualified for the state DECA competition twice. 

“I like that Washington is small enough that I can do several sports and clubs at the same time,” said Schmidgall.

At school, Schmidgall is always smiling and can always be seen encouraging others. She is very outgoing, which shows through her involvement in school activities.

Outside of school, Schmidgall enjoys cooking and baking, is very involved with her church, and loves to support small businesses around Valparaiso. 

“My dream job is to run a small cafe,” said Schmidgall, “The local cafes in Valpo have brought me so much joy, and I have been able to witness first hand the impact they have had on others. I would love to continue this and help support my community as well!”

In the future, Schmidgall hopes to attend Purdue University for hospitality, hoping to eventually start her own catering business or cafe. 

“I will miss the amazing teachers that have both taught me and shaped me into the person I am today,” Schmidgall said.

The last year of school can be bittersweet for many students, but Schmidgall has big things ahead of her and is excited to see what the future holds.