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#1StudentNWI: Spring Performances for Chesterton High School


Teacher Spotlight: Jennifer Jendrzejczyk

For the past six years, english teacher Jennifer Jendrzejczyk has been the sponsor for CHS’ Student Government. In that time, StuGo has changed from a council to a three-tier government with an Executive Board, a Senate, and a House of Representatives.

“We have grown into a functioning body whose mission it is to bring all Duneland stakeholders together for the benefit of all,” Jendrzejczyk explained, “with a focus on improving students' experiences at CHS. To that end, we host the Homecoming Block Party, the Hall-oween Trick or Treat, and Mr. CHS, among other things such as teacher and custodian appreciation, Toys for Tots, stress reduction rooms and Smarties during finals, Random Acts of Kindness events, etc.”

This year, Jendrzejczyk notes, StuGo members have actively sought out problems to be solved, something that she is incredibly proud of.

“The group is so much more than the sum of its parts,” Jendrzejczyk said. “because of their continued efforts, the community has come to recognize the government as a contributing member who can be counted on. The students seek out and solve problems such as creating the donor lunch account when the cafeteria announced that they could no longer allow students to charge breakfast or lunch. Each year, they raise and donate thousands of dollars to local charities, to students who suffer loss such as through a home fire, and to groups such as Hilltop House who lost their entire supply of food and diapers in the spring floods.”

The amount of work students put into StuGo on top of their other responsibilities is another source of pride for Jendrzejczyk.

“I teach English, and I know myriad words, but I struggle to express how proud I am of these students. They are busy; they are dual credit students, IB students, and AP students. They hold jobs, and play soccer and volunteer at Jacob's Ladder and the Boys and Girls Club. But their "busy" isn't a badge they wear to feel important. They are just people who see a need and show up to get the job done. They are the very best people on earth.”

Jendrzejczyk has some words of advice for students trying to be more active in their community as positive influences.

“Decide how you can help and then act,” Jendrzejczyk advised. “Are you outgoing? Offer kind words to someone in the hallway or sit with them at lunch. New friends! Do you have extra money? Pay for someone's breakfast at Dunkin. Many times it takes just one person's $1.99 to create a whole morning of happiness as others pay it forward, too. Do you have extra time? Ask around StuGo, NHS or Interact Club and see how they are helping in the community this month and participate! Cooperation and collaboration are necessary to create a better world.”

Student Spotlight: Claire Bailey

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Sophomore Claire Bailey is a part of Chicago Street Theatre and was a part of planning the open mic night held on March 23 to raise awareness about gun violence.

“After the Parkland shooting, the next class we all sat and talked,” Bailey said. “We all had our stories and our opinions heard. Our teacher isn’t held to a school board so she wanted us to have a platform to get out what we wanted to.”

The performances given at the open mic night were all meaningful in their own ways.

“When the audience got to talking and we began to share stories and opinions, we all agreed,“ Bailey recalled. “It got heartfelt. My monologue was intense and I saw my mom cry. I also sang ‘My Immortal’ by Evanescence, a song that means a lot to me personally. I dedicated it to the victims. There were poetry readings, speeches, and original songs, and then we all had a great discussion.”

On a personal level, Bailey said being a part of the open mic night has changed her for the better.

“The open mic night hit a place in me. It made me feel the emotions I hadn’t felt, or let myself feel,” Bailey noted. “The night opened me up. I was told to never silence my opinion. I was told to scream it. I’m ready to tell my opinion because I don’t want to have to hide from uncomfortable subjects or even my emotions. The open mic night was a blessing, no matter what way you looked at it.”

What’s going on: CHS students talk gun control

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On March 14 at 9:55 am, over a hundred CHS students walked out of school to observe 17 minutes of silence in honor of the 17 victims of the Parkland school shooting. The protest, which was one of many across the country on National School Walkout Day, featured students with a candle and a poster to commemorate each life lost during the fatal school shooting a month earlier. Speeches were also presented before and after the moments of silence, and students returned to class immediately after.

However, many felt as though walking out was simply not enough. After school that day, Student Government and Social Justice League got together with some other teachers and faculty members to create an open forum with snacks and beverages provided by StuGo. At the open forum, students and parents were encouraged to ask questions and express their concerns about gun safety, either anonymously or publicly. The panel at the forum consisted of DSC assistant superintendent Jim Goetz, CHS principal Jeff Van Drie, PE teacher John Snyder, English teacher Kirsten Reed, assistant principal Robert Blumenthal, DSC assistant superintendent of operations and human resources Monte Moffett, DSC manager of safety and security Mike Kellems, and school resource officer Chris Swickard. Many praised the open forum as “exactly the type of conversation that was needed” after such events and students were able to voice their concerns on what would happen if there was a real emergency.

What’s coming up: Mr. CHS

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Mr. CHS, the annual male pageant held by StuGo, will be presented this year on April 7. This year’s senior competitors include Connor Boren, Ryan Day, Jake Donovan, Logan Ginther, Josh Guzek, Jason Hebblethwaite, Josh Hogan, Matt Jewison, Griffin Nichols, Steven Mayski, Ethan Pape, Rahul Patel, Paul Petro, and Bryce Stephan, with fellow seniors Eric Amling and Sam Winski emcee-ing.

The night, described by StuGo sponsor Jennifer Jendrzejczyk as a rollicking adventure of good-hearted top foolery, will feature stand up comedy, slam poetry, and original performances. The night will begin with a group dance number choreographed by Eric Amling, followed by the talent portion, beachwear, and formal wear presented by Louie’s Tux shop.

The winner will be crowned Mr. CHS and have a donation made to the charity of his choice. A runner-up will also be chosen, and the participants will get to choose a Mr. Congeniality. Mr. CHS is one of the most popular events every year, and Jendrzejczyk feels that the event is so popular because, although it is a parody of many beauty pageants, it is authentic and the audience gets to see sides of the contestants that they might not have seen before.

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