#1StudentNWI: Wheeler’s class of 2023 and its compassionate ceremony

#1StudentNWI: Wheeler’s class of 2023 and its compassionate ceremony

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The 2023 Wheeler High School (WHS) school year has come to an end, and with that end comes several celebrations. 

One such celebration is the journey of the WHS Math and Fine Arts Academic Teams. Throughout this school year’s journey, the two teams have studied and memorized several different pieces of information, histories, and equations. 

The end goal - to end up as the 2022-2023 State finalists for their school, and the Math and Fine Arts Teams were successful. The members, along with their respective coaches, were invited to attend the state finalist competition at Purdue University - West Lafayette on May 6, 2023. 

With their attendance at the competition, both teams get a plaque with the year of the competition from Purdue officials. 

As the 2023 school year comes to an end, so does the journey of the senior class. Traditionally, the WHS seniors plan a prank on the faculty of WHS. This year’s prank was a classic toilet paper and plastic wrapping of trees, tables, benches, and even some flagpoles. 

Eventually, the seniors were tasked with cleaning up after the day ended. 

Prior to this event, the seniors were given a day off to have fun at a bowling alley. The class of 2023, along with a few teachers and class sponsors, were able to spend the majority of their day at the bowling alley and purchase lunch if desired. 

This nice break was well-deserved, highlighting an end to four years at WHS. 

WHS as a whole has successfully completed the 2022-2023 school year as of May 26. The last week of the school year is one of constant studying, memorizing, and completing challenging finals for a plethora of subjects. 

Students like Sean Springer will be continuing their dedicated studies with online schooling. These individuals will be finishing their required classes through a program called OdysseyWare. 

Along with an exciting week of finals, WHS held an annual film festival before finals week. The film festival held a collection of three total documentaries made by three different WHS students. 

The highlight of the film festival was a documentary about one of WHS Physical Education and Health Teacher Mike Jones. Before the documentary about his life and journey was presented, Jones was renowned for having an upbeat personality. He would inspire all students to try new things, encouraging them to begin new hobbies and push their boundaries. 

This documentary not only cemented the lessons that Jones wants to teach his students, it also allowed for the editors of this documentary to truly show off their editing skills and knowledge. 

The audience was taken aback by this fantastic documentary, with some members of the crowd even asking if they hired professional editors and cameramen. 

Concluding this wonderful school year is the event that several seniors, and their teachers, look forward to: graduation. The event took place on June 4, with hundreds of students’ family and friends lining up and waiting to take their seats. 

The event was held in the WHS gym where seniors were seated in the middle of the room, looking directly forward at a stage. Behind the seniors were several chairs for teachers and other faculty members. 

On the sides of the gym were bleachers, all lined with important people that the Class of 2023 invited. These people would be witnessing one of the greatest moments in the class’s life: the moment the seniors received their diplomas. 

The event first began with a brief introduction from the WHS Principal Dan Klimczak. He congratulated the graduating class, listing off the several adversities that the class overcame. 

Following the brief introduction from Klimczak, two Class of 2023 students were invited to speak. These two students were Emily Enright and Madelyn Sullivan. Both speeches discuss the exciting future that their lives will be following, regardless of any obstacles that are met. As both speakers highlighted, the Class of 2023 is no stranger to adversity, as they will overcome anything thrown at them. 

Following the two student speeches WHS superintendent John Hunter finalized the event. In his speech, Hunter spoke of several great tips that each student could utilize. Regardless of whether these students would be enlisting, enrolling, or being employed, all students should realize the responsibilities that they hold and need to accomplish. 

As the speech concluded, and the students were called up one by one to receive their diplomas, the audience held its breath for the key moment: when the tassels would move from the right to the left. This signature moment would mark the beginning of their adult lives. 

The beginning of their lives deserved a celebration, as all 2023 graduates threw their caps into the air and yelled in triumph. 

What’s coming up?

This year marks the beginning of Low Ceiling’s return. Low Ceiling is a student-led band from students that attend both WHS and Portage High School (PHS). The group held its first summer concert on the last school day of WHS, May 26.  

As a way to support their friends, several WHS students attended this concert. Family members of the band also showed up and listened to several songs played by the outstanding band.  

Low Ceiling was able to cover songs from Paramore, The Backseat Lovers, and similar artists. 

“I’m enjoying myself,” Sophia Aguayo, a friend of the lead singer of Low Ceiling, said.

A similar statement could be made about the other individuals at the concert, as several were dancing, singing along, hyping up the band members, and enjoying themselves. 

Other parties, such as open houses, will be another major highlight of the summer. Several seniors plan on holding, and going to, as many concerts as possible. Liesel Ebert, a graduating WHS senior, has an entire list of open house parties that she plans to attend. 

Additionally, as several other high school programs offer, WHS is offering a summer school program for students to either take new classes or retake old classes. Several new freshmen utilize this program to finish required classes and open up more room for electives. One such class is taught by Dijiana Gagaleska. 

Gagaleska teaches the main business courses at WHS, including College and Careers, a program designed to direct students towards thinking about their futures. Consequently, Gagaleska also awards certificates to certain students who qualify for a Work Ethic Certificate. 

There are two kinds of Work Ethic Certificates: one that is regional and one that is deemed as “Governor’s Work Certificate.” To attain this certification, students need to display several core capabilities: volunteering for a certain amount of hours, respecting diversity and exercising tolerance, managing time effectively, and more. 

Students can then utilize these two certifications for applying to jobs. When the applicant begins applying, and when showing this certificate to the employer, the employer can immediately request an interview with the applicant. 

Certain employers look for the exact skills that the applicant mastered when they attained their certificate, meaning the employers know that the applicant is a reliable employee. 

The benefits of having this certificate include realizing the several kinds of work ethic components, developing an opportunity to shape and grow these components, and maintaining a sense of awareness of the importance of being prepped for applying to workforces and higher forms of education. 

Gagaleska encourages any new WHS freshmen to quickly take advantage of this program and strive to become the very best versions of themselves. Some individuals who were awarded the Governor's Work Ethic certificate include Christen Haas, Grace Klimczyck, Lazo Knezic, and more. 

The upcoming WHS 2023-2024 school year will shortly begin, so students should begin working on those work ethic skills, get volunteer hours in, and enjoy as many open houses as possible. 

Staff spotlight:

WHS Spanish teacher Shyloh DeYoung has an exciting summer planned this year. 

She plans on returning to Pesto’s this summer and working as a server. She’s been working there for seven to eight years. Additionally, she plans to take her kids to a waterpark for an overnight stay and have fun with her family. 

Moreover, she’ll utilize her Spanish skills at Pesto’s and delve fully into conversations with other Spanish speakers. These interactions just show how important it is to learn another language, regardless of whether it's learned at a young age or studied. 

DeYoung is excited to begin teaching her new Spanish 5 students and to help them gain the Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas. 

“This has been a crazy year for me, but I’m hoping to have things more refined next year,” she said. “I’m looking forward to leveling up with the students that I’m teaching next year and helping them out on their Spanish journey.” 

DeYoung teaches a wide variety of students, from freshmen to seniors, meaning she’ll be able to track several student’s accomplishments and journey in the Spanish language. 

She hopes that the next school year will allow her to amp up her students to learn even more knowledge about Spanish and enrich themselves in Spanish culture. 

She personally thanked one of her latest students, Lily Uñate, for always being there for her and being in the most contact with her. 

Additionally, she leaves several tips for both graduating students, and future freshmen for the upcoming school year. She recommends freshmen to focus on time management. Take advantage of the class time that you’re given, and use that time to finish school work. That way, you can utilize later time as free time. 

“For graduating seniors, my advice would be that it’s totally okay if you don’t have everything planned out,” she said. “It’s okay if you end up changing your mind several times. And great for those who have everything planned out! The key is to be flexible! Don’t be rigid.” 

Interestingly enough, DeYoung never planned on teaching high schoolers Spanish. In fact, she planned on being a journalist, and even worked at the NWI Times right before her super senior year in college. However, during her very last semester, she studied Spanish abroad in Spain. 

“When I came back, I wanted to bring that culture to people,” she said. “I didn’t even know I was going to become a teacher; I just knew that I wanted to show others what I learned in Spain.” 

One key lesson that DeYoung hopes that everyone masters at some point in their lives is the ability to be flexible, regardless of the situation or event.

Student spotlight:

Liesel Ebert is graduating as one of the summa cum laude of WHS. WHS summa cum laude is a group of individuals who meet a certain GPA threshold. All those students are titled summa cum laude.  

This title is the highest form of distinction one can earn at WHS, and it cannot be earned lightly. It takes several rigorous classes, such as AP Chemistry and AP Calculus, and the ability to lead and participate in several clubs. 

In the case of Ebert, she was one of the presidents for WHS’s French Club, a student-led organization all about bringing French culture to the students. Additionally, she was a team lead at Panera Bread, displaying several leadership qualities and responsibilities that inspired her co-workers to be more efficient. 

“The beginning of this school year was a blur,” she said. “Lots of hair dye, lots of freaking out, but it was pretty good. The year as a whole went by so fast, yet the beginning of it seems so long ago at the same time.” 

Jokingly, she mentions how she will never be able to erase the long amount of hours Calculus has taken up in her first trimester, but she said she enjoyed them. 

Ebert enjoyed WHS, stating that it’s incomparable to anything she’s ever experienced before. She said, with certainty, that she will definitely be missing it. 

“I want to go back to my sophomore year picture day and slap myself in the face,” she said. “I wish I was kidding, but I’m being so serious.” 

Bad picture days are one of high school’s funniest moments, and no student is a stranger to them. Regardless, it’s a memory that Ebert both cherishes and wishes never happened. 

Another memorable moment was when she demonstrated her mathematical prowess during the 2022-2023 Academic Super Bowl for WHS’s Math Team. 

She, along with the rest of the members of the team, worked diligently to perfect their understanding of spherical trigonometry and logic. They spent hours memorizing formulas, perfecting equations, and solving even the most complex geometrical problems possible. 

Even so, Ebert hopes for even more memorable moments in the future. 

Her plans for the future can only be described as a long and winding journey of further education and medical professionalism. She plans on getting her master’s in some form of neurobiology and becoming one of America’s leading neurosurgeons of the generation. 

In hoping so, she understands the trials and tribulations ahead of her, and feels excited to tackle them. 

“In five years, I will absolutely still be in school, hopefully a medical school or a master’s program,” Ebert said. “If I’m still in an undergrad program, so be it. In 10 years, I hope I’ll eventually be in a medical residency. Lots of schooling for me!” 

Ebert realized that the 2021-2022 graduating class had left her a piece of information that traveled with her throughout her Senior year. 

“One thing for upcoming seniors is that it’s going to go by so much faster than you think it is,” she said. “It’s really cliche to say, but I didn’t take it seriously when people said it to me a year ago. It went by so quickly. Appreciate it while you can.” 

Ebert plans on appreciating her last summer with her high school friends and family.