Category Archives: profile

Senior Superlatives

You voted, seniors, and here were the results!

Photos by Adam Bright, Zoe Castle, and Schyler Slunaker

Most Athletic

Mackenzie Polster

 

Noah Evanoff

Most School Spirit

Taylor Kiemeyer

Gavin Rose

Most Original

Hayden Botorff and Mary Voigt

Most Likely to Be President

Elaine Hilton

AJ Dougherty

 

Animal Whisperer

Megan Woods

Adam Lee

Most Opinionated

Estella Woods

Adam Lee

Most Likely to Become a Rock Star

Rowan Stewart and Ivy Rowe

 

Best Dressed

 

 

Most Likely to be a Doctor or Nurse

Maya Gutierrez

Nick Capen

 

Most Likely to Become Comedian

Lexi Rankin

Tate Helm

 

 

April brings Autism Awareness

by Andrea Lenser/Staff Writer

The start of April is the beginning of a transition period from bitter cold temperatures to warm, sunlight-filled days, but another important time also kicks off on the first of April: Autism Awareness Month.

Autism Awareness Month was created to further research about autism and educate people about the disorder. Webinars, learning sessions, and fundraisers are put on during the month of April so that the public can expand their knowledge on the subject and join the movement to educate more people about the effects of the disease.

So, what is autism anyway? According to autismspeaks.org, autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. What follows is a personal story about the experiences of someone with autism.

Contrary to popular belief, autism is not a mental illness. Maureen Jackson, a Greenfield resident, 75, has a now adult son named Paul who was diagnosed with autism at age 35. “[Autism] is a neurological disease. Most people think especially because he’s going to a psychiatrist and does take medication that it’s a mental illness and it’s not, it’s biological really, like diabetes.” she said.

Mental illness, as described by mayoclinic.com, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. A mental illness is a disorder that one acquires later in life, while autism is a biological syndrome that affects a person from birth.

Understanding autism and its effects on the brain is not a simple task. There are many different types of autism; some forms are severe while other forms are hardly noticeable. “Autism is not a one-size-fits-all,” said Kathleen Burke, a special education teacher at GC. “Autism is on a spectrum… students can need little to no support or they can need significant support. It depends on the person themselves.”

For those with severe cases of autism, understanding other people’s emotions and recognizing sarcasm does not come as easily to them as the standard person. One struggle in particular for children with autism is being able to learn in a traditional school environment.

Paul Jackson, 48, had a rough school experience due to his autism. “It was terrible. I got bullied a lot and the teachers did not understand my disability.” he said. Maureen, Paul’s mother, then explained how Paul’s teachers had the impression that he was a troublemaker. “Starting in first grade, the teachers would tell the kids to get their math books out, and he wouldn’t, and the teacher would finally realize that she had to distinguish and say ‘Class, get your math books out now. Paul, get your math book out now.’ It was like he didn’t feel like a part of the group.”

Because Paul appeared to be unengaged during class, his teachers would set up conferences to meet with his parents and the principal to correct his behavior, but because autism was virtually unknown at the time, no one knew why Paul couldn’t stay engaged in conversations and class discussions. Doctors couldn’t even connect Paul’s struggles in school to autism. Maureen said, “When Paul was in school, doctors didn’t even have a clue. Paul had one of the best-known pediatricians, certainly in the state of Indiana, and he just blew it off. He said the teacher didn’t know what she was talking about, that Paul’s quiet and he’s fine.”

Different setbacks for Paul came as he entered adulthood. Even though Paul scored extraordinarily high on the standardized tests, his inability to succeed in a classroom kept him from receiving a high school diploma. However, he overcame this hindrance and earned his General Educational Development (GED). Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only setback that he endured upon becoming an adult.

Job hunting proved to be an arduous ordeal because finding a job that suited Paul’s needs was difficult to come by. While he is much more intelligent than the average person, his lack of social skills due to his autism kept him from being getting any job higher than a position at a convenience store. Maureen said, “It’s frustrating, really frustrating, for him to be stuck in a job where he sweeps the floor and stocks the shelves, but he can’t put together and work with other people and take instructions because there is some misconnection.”

It is frustrating for people with autism to endure rejection simply because their minds work differently than most people’s minds. However, many autistic people have hidden capabilities because of the unique way their brains function. For example, some people with autism might be able to calculate math equations more swiftly than other people and they can have exceptional memories. Maureen marvels at Paul when he mentions a memory and can tell her the exact date the event took place. “He would say, ‘Do you remember when we went to Taco Bell on June the third of 1997, right after we went to the zoo? Remember that?’ and I would say no. I used to think he was making it up. I still can’t explain that, it’s weird that he would have that memory.” she said.

Because autism was an unknown disorder when Paul was a child, there wasn’t any resources available to him that would have made his school experience more enjoyable and successful. Now that autism and its effects have been researched, new resources have been discovered to help autistic students to understand the material and the emotions and feelings of the other students around them. “One method that tends to work for a lot of people is anything visual, so like visual schedules, organizational plans, planners, etc.” Burke said.

Another teaching method that works well for students with autism is having access to a quiet space, so going down to a break room or simply spending some alone time in the hallway could help soothe students that might feel overwhelmed, Burke said. Stress gets the better of everyone at some point, so having quiet areas in schools for students to calm down in is beneficial, she said.

It’s important to know that there isn’t anything wrong with people with autism; their brains are just wired differently than most people’s brains. Consider taking part in Autism Awareness Month by joining in on a seminar or webinar, donating to a fundraiser that furthers autism study, and spreading the word to others.

“I’m not crazy, I’m not retarded.” Paul said. “It’s just certain parts of my brain work different.”

 

Personality Profile: Indiana author writes murder mysteries

by Andrea Lenser/Staff Writer

He won both the Western Writers of America Spur Award and the Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction twice. His books have been featured on the Best Books of Indiana list and have been translated and sold worldwide in Italian and Turkish. He has been nominated for a Derringer Award and won Elmer Kelton Fiction Book of the Year. No, this isn’t just any given author. These are the accomplishments of Larry D. Sweazy, an author and indexer that lives nearby in Noblesville, Indiana.

When he was a little boy, his favorite pastime was reading. This immense love for reading eventually sparked an interest in writing. “I loved books when I was a kid because I could escape and disappear, so I wanted to at some point figure out how I could do that for other people,” he said.

While he was in middle school and then high school, he discovered his interest in writing. The first piece of writing he ever wrote was a poem in eighth grade. His teacher told him, “You know, you’re a really good writer. You should pursue this, and get better at it.” This was the beginning of a pathway that would lead to a career.

As of now, Sweazy has published 14 books, eight westerns and six mysteries. Some of his most popular books are the ones included in the Marjorie Trumaine series, which include See Also Murder, See Also Deception, and See Also Proof. Allison Lenser, a freshman, has read this trilogy and loves how diverse these books are compared to other mystery books of this era. “Each one was unique in its own way,” she said.

Lenser then went on to explain how other murder mysteries take place in modern-day cities, but the Marjorie series is set in the 1960’s on a farm. This one simple element that was altered caused these books to stand out when compared to other mystery books of this era.

A unique aspect of Sweazy’s is his rather distinct writing style. Most authors make an outline before writing and mull over details until they have created the perfect storyline. Sweazy chooses to instead immerse himself in writing and see where the story takes him. “I just kind of fly by the seat of my pants… So I kind of know what’s going to happen, but I don’t know everything. I don’t want to know everything,” he said.

Writing books isn’t the only activity that Sweazy focuses on. He is also a freelance indexer. Cheryl Lenser, a friend of Sweazy’s, also indexes books for a living. “In several of Larry’s novels, he references his other skill–indexing books. Larry has the organizational ability to keep the characters, events, and timeline in mind as he crafts his stories,” she said. Larry’s exquisite indexing skills help organize his writing so his storyline makes sense.

Aside from writing and indexing, Sweazy also reviews books for a magazine, he is on the board of directors for the Midwest Writers Workshop, and he teaches writing courses at the Indiana Writing Center. “Usually everything I do is related to writing, in one way or another… [but] I do quite a bit of other things other than write.”

Sweazy has plans in the future to write and publish more books, as well as add to his current series. He doesn’t plan on slowing down and aims to feed his craving to write for as long as he can.

“I’ve got some young adult ideas I’d like to do, or some science fiction, or some literary novels. It just depends on if I ever get to them,” he said.

 

Personality profile: Instructor shares joys, challenges of teaching

by Zoe Starks/Staff Writer

          Mindy Weaver-Flask, English teacher, has been teaching for about 19 years. She has taught in both private and public schools in Ohio and Indiana. Before teaching she was in the military as a member of the Ohio National Guard.            

          Flask talked about why she wanted to become a teacher.  “The reason I wanted to become a English teacher was because when I was in school I had an amazing English teacher. That teacher changed the trajectory of my life.”  

          She added, “My favorite thing about teaching is building relationships with my students. I love seeing their growth of reading and writing throughout the years.”

          Flask discussed why she wanted to work at Greenfield-Central. “I chose to work at GCHS because I wanted a change,” she said.

She said, “The most frustrating thing about teaching is the policies of the state of Indiana because of the amount of state testing and the negative outcomes for many of our students.”

 “Some of the everyday challenges I go through are time management. It never feels like there is enough time to look through scores and help my students with all their work.”

        Lauren Silcox, 9, said, “I like how she is very interactive with the class and willing to help anyone.”

        Audrey Pechin, 9, said, “I like how she is helpful and kind to everyone.” Pechin said Mrs. Flask is a very understanding person.

          Silcox said Flask’s teaching style is easy to comprehend and thinks that she is a very helpful teacher.            

      Mrs. Flask said she may not be a classroom teacher in five years. Instead, she will pursue guidance counseling so she can help children in a different capacity.            

Profile: O’Neal balances golf, bowling

by Rachael Gilkison/Staff Writer

Photo: Tandess O’Neal, first on left, 10, pauses for a moment on the golf course with her team and Coach Russell Wily. 

GC golf player Tandess O’Neal has a heart for golf. O’Neal has been playing golf since she was eight, though she did take a break during her freshman year. She has been playing for GC since her seventh grade year.

Even though it seems like she is best known for her golf, she also bowls. When asked about how dedicated she was to golf, Tandess replied, “When I first started this season, I was not really sure where my heart was with bowling and golf.  As the season went on, I realized I actually enjoyed golf. All of my golf friends opened up my eyes a little bit. I am pretty dedicated now.”

One of her golf goals is “to see where I am in two years (my senior season) and then I will really know what I want to do in college. Like I said, I am a bowler and that is my passion. But who knows, in two years I may want to golf in college.” And since she has had quite the season, playing the number five spot on the team all year, these goals seem pretty realistic.

Not only is she a team player on the green, but she is also a “supportive and great friend,” as described by Caroline Gibson, her friend for almost four years. Gibson said that her favorite thing about her is “her personality how she is always there is listen to me if I needed to tell her something.” Haley Hoagland, a friend of Tandess’s for almost ten years, described her as “always willing to help anyone who needs it.” Hoagland said her favorite thing about O’Neal is her commitment to bowling. One common thing that both Hoagland and Gibson brought up is that she seems to always be golfing or bowling.

According to O’Neal, “Golf is an important part of my life. I have met my best friends in golf. Haley Hoagland and Caroline Gibson have been a couple of my best friends since 7th grade. That is when we started golfing together, and I am so glad they talked me into playing this year. I have also made a lot of friends outside of the Greenfield team.”