On December 18th, Students of Munster High School were both reluctant and relieved to begin their final week of school before a well deserved winter break. Students took their final exams Wednesday through Friday that week, and the determination for success could be seen and felt throughout the halls. Munster has had a strong academic record the past few years, being ranked 7th in the state as of early 2017. It is the passion of the students who inhabit the building that has kept Munster’s excellence soaring.
Not all aspects of the final weeks before break were school and study oriented. Thanks to student government, Munster students had a chance to participate in the annual co-ed volleyball game. Each team was able to pick their members and dress up for whatever team theme they agreed on. All participants paid a $10 fee, and the money made from the fees was donated to Munster’s toy drive. Students from the game, and collectively over the weeks at school, were able to raise hundreds of dollars that went towards numerous toys for children this holiday season.
On the competitive side of things, Munster’s famed Speech and Debate team took home the gold at Bradley University’s annual high school competition. The team itself has been to the competition over 15 times, but this year was the first in school history that Munster High School won the entire tournament. The individual first place successors included Tara Layous in both Poetry and Program Oral Interpretation, Maya Radjenovich in Dramatic Interpretation and Prose Reading, and Jack Sullivan and Michael McDunn in Duo. Senior Noah Moell was also awarded with the Janssen Oratorical Scholarship for his entry in four events and success in all.
What’s Coming Up?
Although excited for a two week break, Munster High School students have many upcoming events to look forward to in the new year. Munster Theatre Company debuts their Improv Nights in January while also rehearsing for their Winter Show, You Can’t Take it With You, the following month. Academic clubs such as Debate, DECA, and Scioly have competitions including State and Districts in the next few months.The teams have been preparing all year for qualifying tournaments and state titles. Boys and girls basketball are packed with games for the month of January and are anticipating full student sections.
The Munster Media Center has been diligent on their technological advances throughout the school. The introduction of sign-in kiosks in the library is only one of the first steps. Staff of the Media Center explained how important it is to keep track of students throughout the school. By incorporating technology into these efforts, the students themselves are intrigued. Over the past few years, Munster has moved much of it paper and pencil work onto student laptops. In the upcoming years, students anticipate that they will no longer have to carry a textbook for any subject. While there is some controversy over the idea, Munster Media is excited to introduce new advances throughout the school in the near future to benefit both learning and fun.
Junior Sara Arndt started off her year exposed to all sorts of new high school adventures, one of them being her multiple AP classes. AP, or advanced placement classes, are optional for students at Munster High School who have met prerequisites in their previous regular classes.
“Taking AP level classes has required me to become more independent,” explained Arndt. “I feel like I am more prepared for college because of AP classes due to the extra mile taken by both my teachers and I.”
The AP students at Munster admire their teachers work ethic towards their success, and many have said that their knowledge comes from more than just a textbook, but from the in depth conversation shared with their teachers.
“AP teachers expect more out of their students but also want them to succeed. They are diligent in providing the resources for us to do so,” said Arndt.
Junior year is often remarked as one of the hardest years at Munster High School, and much of this stigma comes from how many students take AP classes. Arndt shared her view of the stress and excitement of higher level classes:
“The workload is heavier, and you are expected to do more without being asked. But because of the great conversations and ideas discussed in every class period, it just makes you want to learn even more," said Arndt.
Not only do the students put forth the effort to conquer an AP course, but the teachers take time out of their own lives to make it all possible. The tougher curriculum in these classes calls for an involved mentor to convey the material. Mr. O’Neill, for example, is a favorite amongst AP students. He currently teaches AP Chemistry and AP Environmental Science to over a hundred different eager learners.
“There are definitely higher expectations and larger, tougher work loads for students when taking AP courses. It is a college class after all. But I have been pleased with the amount of independence this year,” Mr. O’Neill said.
He has been awarded with groups of enthusiastic and sharp students during his time at Munster. However, one aspect of the 2017-2018 school year came as a surprise.
Mr. O’Neill is the only AP Environmental Science, or APES, teacher in the building. The class explores all aspects of the environment including large discussions on human impact.
“I was surprised but excited when I saw how many kids signed up for APES this year,” explained Mr. O’Neill, the class seeming to be less popular than his AP Chemistry course in the past years. “I was even happier when all the student who commited to the class began to do so well.”
Mr. O’Neill continues to push students and encourage them towards AP courses. As many of the AP teachers do, he acknowledges the difficulty, but thoroughly believes every student who puts forth the effort will succeed.