As Claire Garrison prepares for her final season of high school she can’t help but be excited about her future which will begin in a few short months.
The 5’4” senior plans to attend Western Michigan University next fall and major in nutrition and minor in exercise science. Along with playing her favorite sport, soccer.
“I’ve debated either walking or playing club soccer my freshman year, I am still unsure,” says Garrison.
Garrison has been a member of the Howell varsity soccer team for all four years of high school. Along with playing high school soccer, Garrison also plays travel soccer, allowing her to play all year round to improve her skills.
“I spend my entire year playing soccer, starting with my travel team, and then high school, and then right back to travel. I love playing and getting to play your favorite sport all year round is the best,” says Garrison.
Garrison has played on multiple travel teams including Revolution, Alliance, Phoenix, and Club Michigan.
“I love playing travel soccer. You get to meet a lot of good soccer players and improve yourself against better competition,” Garrison explains.
Garrison started playing soccer at age five when her parents put her in recreational soccer. It wasn’t long before she found her passion and began to play travel soccer.
Garrison entered her freshman year being placed on varsity. She describes her first couple of seasons being on varsity as some “rough seasons.”
However, that didn’t stop Garrison from competing on the high school team. As she entered her junior year she moved into a leadership role and was a main player as she looked to improve her team.
“As a team we have grown a lot. Since I was on freshman we have always been improving every season. This year I expect us to have an exciting year and do very well,” says Garrison.
While pushing her team to get more wins and have an overall better season, Garrison also looks to achieve personal goals such as being placed on first team all league which she received last year.
Outside of soccer Garrison jokes, “I have no life,” a common answer from most dedicated athletes. Then she replies, “I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, most of which I play soccer with.”
It seems that Garrison can’t stay away from soccer and can’t get enough of it.
“Soccer has always been my passion, and I want to play it for as long as I can.”
From the time children speak their first words to the time they receive their diplomas, family, friends, and teachers continuously and redundantly ask the thought provoking question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Many simply do not know the answer until college, while others may know from the very beginning. Howell High School senior Alison Wiercioch knew what she wanted to be since second grade when she first discovered the world of theatre.
“Being in my first play was the turning point for me and I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Wiercioch said.
It turns out Wiercioch’s first production in elementary school is also going to be her last at HHS. She got cast as the youngest sister Bielke in Fiddler on the Roof at the Community Theatre of Howell, and is now mother Golde in the upcoming HHS production of the show.
“When I found out Ms. Malo [drama teacher and director] was doing Fiddler, I knew I was auditioning for this because it’s my play, it’s my heart,” she said while sitting in the drama room at the school.
Getting the lead role of Golde was an unexpected pleasure for Wiercioch, but is not her first lead role. She has previously played Mary Hatch Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, Bonnie Jean in Brigadoon, and Babette the Featherduster in Beauty and the Beast.
This aspiring young actress has auditioned for Western Michigan University, plus a few out of state schools such as New York and Chicago, to pursue her major in theatre. Her number one choice is NYU and wishes to attend their Performing Arts program, Tisch: School of the Arts.
“It’s always been my dream since I was little,” she said “I’m crossing my fingers to get in. I find out April first.”
Afterwards, she sets herself up for high standards to be on famous stages like Broadway or big screen movies, which are played around the world. Despite her excitement for her future, she concludes there will be tears when having to leave her past.
“My mom, Ms. Malo and I talk about this [Wiercioch's graudation] all the time and my mom’s going to have to rip me away from this classroom and this stage because this is where everything started from me,” she said, having an abundance of bitter-sweet feelings. “I have met a lot of friends and Ms. Malo has been over-the-top great for me and helped me with whatever I needed.”
When she is not acting, the talented student still takes the stage as a singer. She takes part in choir and Classicality. Although her favorite thing to do is spend time with her friends and family.
“I love to sing, but I love my family to death. My family is just the thing for me,” she said. “They and my friends are there with me through every play and it’s really nice to have that support system.”
After everything she has done, she would like to gives thanks to Ms. Malo for being the “best director ever,” her parents, her little sister, and everybody that is there to support her, especially Adam Sciberras.
“Theatre is my home, it’s my baby, and I love it,” she said with a warm smile. “I just hope that everybody else can feel that when I walk on the stage.”
To paint a picture in the minds of others and start their imaginations is a dream of 16-year-old Howell High School junior, Marissa VanDaelen. Interested in art and literature, she aspires to become an author. “I’ve always loved to read and write. It’s been a dream of mine to have a book out there that actually means something to someone. I’ve always wanted to inspire people,” says VanDaelen.
Writing has always been a passion for VanDaelen. She enjoys writing more about sad topics, which lean more towards what she is personally feeling or going through. “My favorite things to read are usually sad or romantic. I believe that sad things have more sentimental value,” said VanDaelen.
VanDaelen looks to her cousin, Danielle Risacher, as an inspiration. She states that Danielle has been through a lot herself and has helped out VanDaelen in tremendous ways. “My cousin, Danielle, has been my greatest influence. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her. She’s always been there for me,” shared VanDaelen.
Along with writing, VanDaelen enjoys drawing and painting. She mainly likes to draw people with pencil, believing the black and white look makes it appear more realistic. “The different shades of pencil I use and blend together to highlight light and dark spots are the most fun parts to me,” explains VanDaelen.
Painting, on the other hand, she enjoys to create people in color. She finds it to be a more abstract creation. “Taking a plain canvas and turning it into whatever I want is the best. All it takes is some paint and that’s amazing to me. You control whatever you do,” says VanDaelen.
VanDaelen has plans to go to college, though she is unsure of which one. She would like to major in English Language Arts and become an author. “Writing is an escape for me. It clears my mind when I have a lot on it,” said VanDaelen.
VanDaelen definitely sees writing as an outlet, an escape from her reality. She hopes to one day be an inspiration to all who inspired her. “People think writing is just words on paper, but it’s so much more.”
Students all remember that feeling when they finally turn 16, pass their driver’s test, and can finally go get their license. Some students got their own car, some share one with their parents, but either way their dreams of going wherever they want, whenever they want come to a halt when they have to pay for their own gas.
“Gas prices affect me because it takes up almost all of my money, so I can’t do a lot out of school because I can’t afford to waste gas,” Senior Chauncy Harris says.
A lot of students went out and got a job when the opportunity presented itself and with that income the majority of them have to use most, if not all of their earnings, to pay for gas and that’s not what anyone would like to be spending all of their money. It should be used for school events, movies, and trips to Taco Bell, the things most teenagers like to do. If gas wasn’t so expensive students would have a little more spending money for things like that.
“Work doesn’t generate income for me, it pays for gas. So I basically work for gas,” says senior Nicholas Webb.
That’s exactly how a lot of students feel. The average price of gas in Michigan right now is between $3.40 and $3.60. It’s an improvement from a couple months ago when gas prices were as high as $3.95.
“I wish gas was like 25 cents a gallon,” says senior Melissa Smith.
There probably isn’t one driver who doesn’t agree with Smith. In addition to the fact that most teens only get paid minimum wage, or a little above, maybe even a little below, most don’t have the best cars.
Let’s face it, when a student just turns 16 they don’t exactly have the money to get the most gas efficient car that offers the best mileage. Most students get their cars from relatives or a used car dealership. The cars may be in good condition, but they’re older, and most aren’t the best with gas.
Michigan set a record last year in May with the highest gas prices ever recorded at an average of $4.21 per gallon. But things might be looking up for Michigan drivers. It is predicted that gas prices in Michigan could be in the low $3.00 range by the end of the year.
“If gas prices go down, I’ll probably spend my money on concert tickets,” says senior Nick Crouson
Not many people consider moving to another country for a year to learn another language and lifestyle. However, that’s just what eight of Howell’s foreign exchange students have chosen to do.
“I love it here. The school is a lot bigger, the people are friendlier, and the school work is less difficult. When I first arrived here, I was very nervous to meet so many new people,” says German exchange student Nadja Grauer.
There are many cultural differences between the United States and other countries, from something as simple as the type of lifestyle to what language they speak.
A major difference can be seen when comparing the typical school sizes of other countries.
“The school here is a lot bigger than at home. Back home, our school has grades 5-12 and only has 60 people in each class. The school here even has both a large gym and a swimming pool. Things like this usually aren’t found in our schools back home,” says Marc Sanchis, from Spain.
Some students find the teaching style in the United States drastically different, although in a good way.
“In Germany, we are only allowed to call our teachers by their first name. Here, that’s definitely different. I also enjoy the ‘hands-on’ teaching here. Back home, teachers aren’t very involved with school activities. It’s cool to see how they help and participate,” says Jamie Heinig. Heinig is from Germany as well.
One main lifestyle change the exchange students are undergoing is eating different types of American food. Student Helene Bach (Denmark) is just one of the students who enjoy the difference in taste.
“I love the food here. My favorites so far are pizza rolls, Oreos, and Ranch dressing. I plan on taking more Ranch dressing back home with me. The food in Denmark is very different from the food here,” Bach proudly states.
On the other hand, the students recognize a variation in the healthiness of the foods in The United States, comparing to their home countries.
“I enjoy the food here and all, but I do miss the food of my country. The food here is extremely unhealthy, and fast food seems to be a common thing. At home, it’s opposite of that,” says Sanchis.
Another difference found between America and other countries is the establishment of sports teams.
“Sports programs aren’t part of our school system. If you want to play that sport, you must join through an organization or club. Here, you get to join as part of a school team, which is really unique. I enjoyed playing tennis this season,” says Grauer.
Since very few countries do not have school sports teams, school events aren’t as common as they are in the United States. An event such as Homecoming, was unheard of until just this year for the exchange students.
“My school doesn’t have any kind of dances or big sports games that go on. We only have club sports, to join outside of school. Homecoming here at Howell was really fun and I loved the dance,” says Bach.
There’s not a doubt that some days may be struggling for the exchange students, but each one’s bravery displays a positive attitude.
“Everything is very different here, but I like it,” adds Sanchis. “I came here to have a new experience, and just have fun.”
It was clearly evident that it was Spirit Week for the Howell Highlanders last week – Sept. 17-21. The school became populated with crazy costumes, colors of green and gold, and enthusiastic faces. Many students participated in the week’s activities, but there were a few individuals who went all out for the love of their school and hometown.
“My favorite part about theater is when you have a character and can make it your own,” says senior Henry Tesmer.
Tesmer describes himself as just an ol’, normal human being, which wasn’t hard to depict given his relaxed and laid back manner. However, there’s more to him than that. He contains a liking for theater that absorbs most of his life.
Stemming from a love for movies, Tesmer’s interest in theater began after he picked up a guitar and strived to be just like his role model, actor Jim Carrey. Since 6th grade, his love for theater shot off, when he starred in his first play, called Rats.
“I played a rat,” he says with a small laugh. “I didn’t know what I was doing and I asked a lot of questions, but you become family and get along with everyone.”
Ever since then, he has been in and worked on multiple plays, including the Community Theater of Howell’s Cinderella in which he played Prince Charming. However, according to Tesmer, the one the play that topped the rest was Flowers for Algernon, in which he played the lead, Charlie Gordon this past school year.
“It was very difficult because there were a lot of intelligent standpoints in his life but everyone helped me, especially Ms. Malo,” Tesmer mentions. Ms. Amanda Malo is the drama teacher at HHS.
Besides acting in plays, he also worked on them as well. At the high school level, he sometimes had the job of running the sound and light board for some of the productions and in doing so, he learned other aspects of theater.
Not only that, but his active role in theater gave him the chance of being in Advanced Drama and he was given the opportunity to actually teach students in the Drama I class.
“It’s hard to teach people your own age,” he says, laughing a little. “However, it was exciting because you are teaching people something you love.”
Even though drama is his favorite class, he also enjoys choir. He gave it a shot in 8th grade and decided to stick with it and never looked back. He was in A Capella, the Highlander Chorale, and the men’s group, Calamity, throughout high school.
“It’s the same as theater,” Tesmer adds. “People are doing what you enjoy and you make a lot of friends.”
Outside of his busy theater schedule, Tesmer has other favorite hobbies, including hanging out with friends and playing the ukulele. It was a spur of the moment decision and his reasoning behind the hobby was he wanted to learn a song called “I Follow You into the Dark” by the band Death Cab For Cutie. Other than this and singing, he also likes to listen to indie, acoustic and on occasion, scream-o music.
Also, at one point in his life, he owned a pet piranha. “I wanted one because they were cool and not many people have one,” he says.
Right now, he lives with his mom, dad, who is always away for work, and little brother. He also has two brothers, one residing in Ann Arbor and the other in the Air Force, and a sister who lives in South Carolina.
Soon, he will be heading off to college as well. He is going to Western Michigan and hopes to gain a master’s degree and eventually his P.H.D in theater directing in which he hopes to use to help jumpstart his dream to have his own production company. Even with all his plans set, he feels a little nervous about being on his own.
“You have a lot more responsibilities,” he says, shrugging his shoulders. “People used to help me with my dreams but now I am on my own.”
Despite this small worry, he gained great advice from a friend, which he will keep in his head as he moves on in life.
“When in Flowers for Algernon, Becky Dilworth told me that you want to live it more than fear it, and since then I have stuck by that quote,” Tesmer proudly states.
Charity is something that almost everyone wants or tries to dabble in. This year, for Howell High School students, they have taken on that challenge and have far exceeded the normal standards. HHS students have been involved with numerous charities throughout the year and have raised a total of roughly 50,000 dollars.
In first place, with raising around 15,000 dollars, is the student council in partnership with LESA (Livingston Educational Service Agency). They hosted the annual Stuff the Bus fundraiser. This year, there were buses parked at both Howell and Fowlerville Walmart stores. This was by far a community effort but the student council was ready and willing to lend a hand. Stuff the Bus takes place around Christmas time and their mission is to fill the bus full of Christmas presents such as toys and clothes. All the proceeds then go to children and families in the community who can’t afford such gifts. Members helped fill the buses and encouraged shoppers to contribute to a good cause.
“This gave students a great opportunity to get out in the community and do something really good for people in need. Our students did a wonderful job,” said Ms. Dana Ritenour, the teacher who helped students organize the event.
Student council has been in charge of many charities, but by far the most innovative one is the annual Senior Survivor competition. In one week alone they raised a total of 13,270 dollars. Every year the senior student council runs the event, and they decide what charity will receive the money. This year they chose something close in our community, the Arc of Livingston. This organization exists to help families and individuals with developmental disabilities by providing support, information and advocacy. Its goal is to help build a community that includes and values people with disabilities. Each member on the survivor crew had to raise money to stay in the competition. Students went around the school and practically begged people for money, along with selling their team t-shirts for seven dollars apiece. Some gave various food items in return for donations and some serenaded students with their guitar playing and singing. If contestants were lucky they received checks from people, like family members or from the church they belong to.
Third place this year goes to the Interact Club and their fight for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Like most others, the way Interact Club raised money was by selling shirts and finding students who were willing to shave their heads for charity. Those participants asked for donations as well. This foundation is a national organization dedicated to finding funds to help end childhood cancers. As a result, they raise awareness, provide support for children and families, and use other money towards research to help find an end.
“This was our first year doing this and we far exceeded our expectations. We hoped to raise 2,000 dollars but we more than tripled it with 7,333 dollars,” said Ms. Karen Lessnau, the Interact Club advisor.
The Howell Boys Tennis Team has yet raised more money this year for a very important cause, the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. Senior Nick Barnowski on the team has a father who is currently diagnosed with ALS. To raise awareness and support, the team sold red wristbands and people could buy paper shoes that would be later placed on a wall at school. The team tried to get teachers involved while also placing posters around classrooms. Barnowski spoke at the homecoming pep assembly to get the message across on a subject that is more prevalent than one would think. The tennis team had a tournament and encouraged people to come, watch, and make donations. For their efforts, they raised a total of 5,500 dollars.
“It was great to see the whole school involved for a cause that hits so close to home. The tennis team and the ALS Association were impressed by the generosity of high school students,” Barnowski says.
One event this year that definitely took people by surprise was the culinary arts wild game dinner. They featured delicious dishes like pheasant, goose, bear meat balls, elk beef tips, Alaskan salmon, and much more. The dinner was supported by the community and people could buy tickets to this dinner for 30 dollars per person, or 50 dollars per couple. With raising a total of 2,600 dollars, 1,300 going toward Gleaners Food Bank and the other 1,300 going to The Connection Youth Services, a local family agency. They have decided to make this an annual event because of its great success.
“It was really cool seeing people ban together for a cause and come together and give all their time and effort,” says Brain Leboeuf, culinary arts teacher.
This year students went above and beyond, coming up with new, inventive, and entertaining ways to raise the money. Every student involved played an important role. All charities were very grateful for the enormous effort of the student body.
As spring approaches, the time comes for students to think about what classes they would like to take next year. Figuring out a schedule can be difficult and stressful, which is why Howell High School decided to take a new approach.
Students filled out a course selection sheet with their desired courses, but had the opportunity to check and control their schedule through Power School. In the past, once students had his or her course requests, there would be a meeting with a counselor who would then manually enter the course requests. This process was very time consuming for the counselors and made the scheduling process quite lengthy.
This new process allows scheduling to be more efficient, since the students will be able to check their course requests. “We are creating an opportunity for students to select the courses themselves,” explained assistant principal Jason Schrock.
Given that students are able to verify their class requests, it will help make sure all of the information is accurate. This lessens the stress on both the counselors and the students.
“I think it will be great,” said the junior class counselor Ms. Gigi Jackson, “when the kids take the lead.”
The program for scheduling is set up so students can only select courses they have the pre-requisites for; though in special cases the counselors will be able to manually enter a course, if needed.
“Students won’t have access to all courses. Students will have a window. If the class doesn’t show up, it’s not in their window of class options,” clarified Mr. Schrock. This procedure ensures that students will be taking classes at their proper ability level.
Another way that the new scheduling process was beneficial is it allowed for the students to be more involved. Students and their parents can work together in formulating a four year plan that fits the individual needs of the student, while still meeting state requirements for graduation.
Online scheduling is beneficial to the students in other ways as well. As required last year, teachers still provide recommendations for core classes. With the schedule being online, it will be more efficient for the teacher recommendations and assure that they are accurate. This is important, because if students don’t have the required teacher recommendations, then they may not be in the right class for their abilities. Overall, the online scheduling process helped the counselors and teachers work together so that students will get the schedule they need.
Additionally, because the counselors spent less time manually entering course requests they had more time to spend with the students. After students entered their course requests, they had the opportunity to meet with a counselor to review the courses with them and make sure that it is the correct direction for their career goals.
Students also find this new way of scheduling as convenient and beneficial. “It’s definitely nice. Being able to check on my course requests will help me make sure I have all the credits I need to graduate,” junior Becky Kemph said.
There was a question as to how the new process would work.
“It went very well, and I can’t wait to see the outcome,” Ms. Jackson said.
ATTENTION SENIORS: Local scholarships are available online at the Howell High School web page, located here.
THE DEADLINE FOR ALL LOCAL SCHOLARSHIPS IS FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18. LATE AND INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.
National scholarships are also available on the HHS page, details and deadlines are listed.