New year brings fresh new staff to Wildcat nation
It’s September and with the start of the new school year comes new classes, new activities, and a new set of faces throughout the halls, both of students and teachers. New staff member Maci Wallace will take on the role as the freshman counselor for this school year. Formerly employed at Carl Traeger Elementary School, Wallace has not gotten used to the busy atmosphere at West quite yet.
“It’s definitely different,”she said. “I’m used to little kids. Working with high schoolers is a lot different, but I’m really liking it because I can talk to them and just act as myself.”
New students are not the only thing that Wallace will have to adjust to this year. Along with a new position and a new set of students, she also has to get used to a new building.
“I’m really liking West, and it’s taking some getting used to,” Wallace said. “I went to North High School. North is just two squares stacked on top of each other and this building is huge. I still have no idea where I’m going.”
Despite these minor inconveniences, Wallace is adapting well and has chosen to embrace her new position at West with a positive attitude.
“I really like the spirit, even on the dress up days. I’ve seen so many people, not just students, but staff members who dress up as well,” she said. “I like hearing how many students are involved, and hearing students talking about clubs and how excited they are for certain things, and students going to the football games and to different athletic clubs.”
While Wallace may be excited to participate in the school spirit, her main goal for this year is to help students transition into school life as best as possible.
“I think helping students transition is very important, sometimes some students don’t realize the connections they have or that they can come down here and see me,” she said. “I think a lot of people think a school counselor is someone who changes schedules; yeah we change a lot of schedules, but we really are here for students emotionally. When things get stressful or difficult, we are always here to help students in many different ways.”
Not only does Wallace enjoy her new job and the opportunity to help her students, but enjoys connecting with them on a personal level. When she isn’t helping students throughout West, Wallace loves to ride bikes, watch movies, hang out with friends, just like her students, and she especially loves to travel.
“I’ve got my whole office travel themed,” she said. “In my graduate school program, when I was learning to be a counselor, I studied abroad in Malaysia for three weeks. I worked with students in a foster home, an orphanage type place, to see how students learn and grow across the world.”
Over the course of her time spent traveling and studying, Wallace has accumulated a great deal of knowledge and wisdom that she now wishes to pass on to her new students. For Wallace, this new job is about much more than just scheduling; to her, this job means helping her students in their journey through high school and life.
“I think it is important for students to really take opportunities when things arise, to not be afraid, to really get out of your comfort zone,” she said. “when you actually do things that are challenging or maybe scare you a little bit, you are going to benefit from it so much. For students, I want them to really just keep trying new things and be adventurous, I think that’s going to help them learn who they are.”
By Akashraj Karthikeyan
Although many new changes accompany each school year, the student body will still be reminded each Wednesday of what it means to be a Wildcat. Continuing the weekly roar and Wildcat Win giveaways will be Andrea Fisher, the new Dean of Students here at West. Not only is it her first year at this school, but also her first year as a dean. However, she has skills from her previous job to prepare her for the transition.
“I was at Webster Middle School for eight years before I came here,”Fisher said. “And I taught in the EBD (Emotional and Behavioral Disorder) program.”
However, Fisher has always wanted to become a dean, and since her former job was comprised of similar tasks, she began to look for a new position.
“I knew I wanted this job,” she said. “So I was just always watching out for Dean positions.”
Then, to her delight, Fisher scored an interview here at West that would make her dream a reality over the summer.
“I was just ready for a change, and I wanted to take a step back to high school,” Fisher said of her decision. “I did student teaching in a high school a long time ago, so I knew that it was the route I wanted to go. I applied and got the job!”
Not only is this new position exciting for her, but she is also able to experience a whole new age group which makes Fisher even more enthusiastic about her job.
“The age of the students is very different than in middle school, so that’s fun,” she said. “And then there’s all of the school spirit and the homecoming stuff. We just had the dodgeball tournament last night, as well as hallway decorating, so that was fun to be a part of.”
Homecoming celebrations are just one reason why Fisher is looking forward to a new and exciting part of her life here at West, although she doesn’t get much time off with two kids and another on the way.
“I have a one-year-old daughter, I’m pregnant, and I have a nine year old step-daughter,” Fisher said. “So I’m super busy with my family right now. We’re just kind of busy, trying to get out and enjoy the weather while we can.”
Analogous to so many incoming freshman, Fisher was a little intimidated by West. Compared to the school she used to work at, West was a big change in scope and attitude.
“[West is] huge, but Mrs. Kohl gave me a great tour,” Fisher said. “So then I just spent a lot of time walking the building and trying to get to know the classrooms and wings.”
So far, it seems that Fisher is getting around just fine, and with the help of her fellow teachers, she truly enjoys being a part of the West staff. Though she has only been here for a short while, Fisher is already gaining familiarity with the rest of an immense staff.
“I’ve only been at it for five days now;l this would be my sixth day, but so far so good,” she said. “I’m enjoying the job, I like the people I work with, and I feel supported, so it’s been really nice.”
Fisher will not be stopping anytime soon; it’s just another step to achieve her dream position. So in this school year, and maybe a few more, she will be working hard to prepare herself for the next stage in her career.
“I’m just growing as a professional myself, in the future I want to be a principal,” Fisher said. “It’s just interesting to learn from Mr. Peterson, Ms. Montour, and Mrs. Kohl, I’m learning from them to get my feet on the ground, I’m just so excited for the experience.”
by Emma Olson
Lights, curtains, action! West’s drama club members will prepare for their fall production under the direction of a first year English teacher taking the stage as the Sock ‘n’ Buskin director. This new advisor, Scotti Thurwachter, is adapting well to his new position at West as he achieves his dreams in the process.
“I think it’s going well, it’s a little chaotic, right now I’m team teaching three different classes,” he said. “There’s a lot of preparation between collaborating with two teachers and then getting the classes I have by myself together as well, so it’s been a pretty crazy first couple of weeks.”
Previously, Thurwatcher spent time in a very different field, as he worked in the bar and restaurant industry in management. Though this is his first teaching job, Thurwatcher has been able to find a few similarities between his past and his future.
“I think that the biggest thing anywhere, whether it’s there or in education, is that collaboration and team is what’s important. That’s one of the nice things about West; there’s always someone there to lend support,” Thurwatcher said. “So it’s really similar in that aspect. But I’ve always been a night owl, and these morning hours will take a little getting used to.”
Despite the early mornings, becoming a staff member at West has fulfilled one of Thurwatcher’s lifelong dreams since his days as a student.
“This is actually, believe it or not, my dream job. I am an Oshkosh West alumni, and it’s been kind of a passion dream of mine,” he said of his own experiences as a high school student. “I wanted to be the next Mr. Lynch, who inspired me. He had made an incredible impact on my life. He was our high school speech coach, drama and forensics director, and he directed the plays. So I set out for that and here I am, and I’m actually in that same kind of capacity so it’s been pretty exciting.”
Now that Thurwatcher has achieved his dream, he is focusing on developing a connection to both his drama and English students. Thurwatcher has many of the same interests as the students at West.
“I’m a huge sports fan, so you can find me watching college football on Saturdays, NFL football on Sundays, and also baseball,” he said. “I love music, I see a lot of concerts and live music performances. I’m a big theater buff, so I like to go to the theater, plays and shows as well.”
Thurwatcher is thrilled to have the opportunity to share his love of the theater and acting with the Sock ‘n’ Buskin club this year as their director.
“For the fall play we are doing a one act competition; it’s a state competition,” Thurwatcher said. “The show is called ‘Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon,’ so we will have district and then our sectional competition to qualify for state.”
Not only does Thurwatcher bring his enthusiasm for theatre to the drama department, but his passion opens up doors to more acting experiences that the members of Sock ‘n’ Buskin can enjoy.
“He has a lot of connections with a lot of people in the drama world, if you will, so he can get us a lot of opportunities,” president of Sock ‘n’ Buskin, Sadona Thompson said of the adjustment to new leadership. “We just did a backstage tour of Wicked this past weekend which was super cool.”
Thompson and the whole drama club are eager to see what this year has in store for them, especially regarding the switch of directors. While sad about leaving, English teacher and former Sock ‘n’ Buskin director Brian Phelps is excited to see what is next for the Drama club and leaves the position to Thurwatcher with complete confidence.
“Mr. Thurwatcher is my guy, I have utmost confidence that he will continue our tradition of excellence, both in the quality of our performances and in the experience of the students,” he said. “He is a teacher of great talent and experience and will be able to take the program even further than I was able to, I look forward to seeing where it goes!”
Energized by the developing opportunities for the year, Thurwatcher is looking to the future as well, hoping to make a permanent impact on the students at West.
“I love how the staff is so engaging and supportive and friendly and outgoing and welcoming,” Thurwatcher said of his frenetic on the job training. “It’s been fun getting to meet the students early on. I think the most exciting thing is the possibilities for the school year, everyone’s been awesome.”
by Keerthana Ambati