#1StudentNWI: Washington Township High School students use sports as a segue to success

#1StudentNWI: Washington Township High School students use sports as a segue to success

Last month at Sunset Hill, Washington Township High School’s Tyler Hachey did not disappoint at the IHSAA Semi-State cross country race. He ran a personal best despite the grueling course at New Prairie High School. Typically, runners struggle on the NPHS course due to a mini-mountain dubbed ‘Agony Hill’ and a muddy ravine lovingly referred to as ‘the Snake Pit.’ Unfazed, Hachey breezed through every obstacle and was poised for a strong finish.

Logan Curran, Hachey’s best friend and long-time fan, was pumped. He had faith that despite the challenges, Hachey would pull through and do his best. Though he’d been to many meets already, Curran never ceased to be amazed by the frenzied cross country atmosphere, the sheer number of stopwatches, and the fact that no matter the weather, people show up to support. Curran would proudly brave the weather any day— he knows Hachey would do the same for him and wants to let Hachey know that he’s there for him.

Ultimately, Hachey finished in 22nd place with a time of 16 minutes and 39 seconds, a personal best for the difficult New Prairie course. The top 10 individuals would advance to the State race. After an hour of anxious waiting, the IHSAA officials announced top finishers, and Hachey ranked 13th in the individual category. Although he was disappointed with the results, Hachey couldn’t have been prouder of the time and the effort he put in this season.

While Curran, Hachey, and other supporters packed up to leave the meet, Callie Feldsein was hard at work at her mom’s bakery in Valparaiso, IN. Feldsein, a junior at Washington Township, has a comparable work ethic and drive to succeed. Feldsein’s work ethic doesn’t stem from long-distance running. From the age of two years old, Feldsein was a gymnast. She began competing in floor events when she was just three years old and quickly progressed through the levels. Though Callie no longer competes, she was a level 9 gymnast for the last three years of her career.

Feldsein’s time in gymnastics gave her an attention to detail, flexibility, and focus that has served her well in many other areas of her life. Now, Feldsein works alongside her mom in a bustling bakery. When she’s not giving her best at school, playing Varsity volleyball, and studying to become an elementary school teacher, Feldsein prepares cake orders and decorates cupcakes and cookies. Her work is unmatched, and she has been known to provide desserts for school events.

Feldsein’s cakes are not easily forgotten. Charlie Schmidgall, who had the pleasure of trying one of her cakes after an AP Literature food day, said, “I really loved the monster cake!”

Feldsein is not just active in the bakery. This year, she joined the volleyball team for the first time ever; although she experienced a learning curve, Feldsein feels that her background in gymnastics helped. By the end of the season, she was playing front row like a natural! She’s also been a member of Key Club for the past two years and dedicated many hours to community service. In addition to a typical high school course load, Feldsein is getting vocational education through the Flint Lake Elementary School program. Each day, she learns about child development and is able to apply that knowledge in a classroom setting.

“The most challenging aspect of balancing so many commitments is not procrastinating,” Feldsein said.

Feldsein’s hard work has not gone unnoticed by her peers and teachers at Washington Township.

“Her hard work in gymnastics has taught her to always give her best in everything she does,” said science teacher Mr. Don Atwood, Feldsein’s favorite teacher. “She was a one-in-a-million student.”

Mr. Atwood doesn’t say this lightly; he’s taught middle school science for 33 years and has seen many students in and out of the classroom. Mr. Atwood has also coached 8th grade boys basketball for and led the WTMS Science Academic Team to six state championship wins over the past 17 years. He’s looking forward to another year of Washington Township success! These days, though he enjoys gardening and watching hockey games,

“I’m having too much fun to even think about retiring,” Atwood said.

Though COVID-19 has turned hands-on science into hands-off science, Mr. Atwood is always coming up with ways to share his love of the subject with his students. “The kids have been really good about doing their best while they are learning from home”, Atwood says. The virus forced Washington Township Schools to utilize its virtual learning plan recently. Students learned through their computers for about two weeks. Mr. Atwood was disheartened, but it gave him a chance to catch up on his yard work and relax at home. He recommended the Amazon Prime show “Bosch” for all crime show lovers.

Speaking of recommendations, Feldsein suggested that readers try some of the Toy Ann’s Sweeterie’s most popular delights.

“The blueberry muffins, chicken pot pies, and peanut butter cakes...they’re fantastic,” Feldsein said.

The storefront is currently closed due to COVID-19, but customers can still order online or by phone at (219) 921-9055 or at https://toyanns.square.site/s/order