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#1StudentNWI: Niners Celebrate Diversity and Create Opportunity


What’s Happening? — Celebrating Diversity

This year, Andrean High School added a new program to its curriculum - formation days. Once a month, students spend the school day participating in nontraditional education experiences, including college preparation, solidarity, and service. The most recent formation day, held on February 28, focused on celebrating diversity.

The school was divided into several different groups, each of which participated in different events. Some students stayed on campus to hear speakers and have discussions on diversity. Other students journeyed off campus to various museums, such as the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Civil Rights Heritage Center, and more.

Senior Beth Azcona visited the Mexican Museum of Art. Azcona felt that the experience helped her connect with her Mexican heritage.

“[The museum] really focused on Mexican identity, from indigenous groups like the Aztecs all the way to present day Mexicans and Mexican-Americans,” Azcona said.

Another senior, Kathryn Mulroe, visited the Art Institute of Chicago. Mulroe studied the Impressionism in her French class at Andrean.

“Some of my favorite [pieces] include Monet's ‘Water Lilies’ painting and many of Rodin's sculptures. Seeing the pieces that we studied come to life on formation day was really special,” Mulroe said.

Both Azcona and Mulroe viewed the day as a success educationally and personally and feel that the program will only continue to improve in the years to come.

What’s Coming Up? — Spring Break in Europe

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Relatively few Andrean students have the opportunity to travel abroad before the end of high school. Students’ busy lives and lack of funds often prevent teenagers from traveling to foreign countries.

However, for a small group of Andrean students, spending spring break abroad has become more than a distant dream; some students will board their plane to Europe in less than a month.

Andrean Senior Abby Wadas has been awaiting this trip for months. She, like many of the other students, worked a part-time job in order to afford the costly trip.

“I started working in the summer to begin saving up for the expenses, and I just recently paid off my share,” Wadas said. “Working has been tough, especially with all of my senior year responsibilities, but it will definitely be worth it.”

The students will tour several European countries, including Poland, Hungary, and Austria. Wadas is especially eager to see the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Marie Antoinette’s childhood home.

“I'm super excited to visit an actual palace, which I know will be breathtaking,” Wadas said. “It'll be amazing to see some places in real life that I have only learned about in history classes.”

In past years, students have traveled to other countries including Italy, Spain, England, and Ireland. Andrean’s annual spring break trip has always been somewhere in Europe, but the specific destinations change from year to year. No matter where the group goes, the trip is always a unique adventure for the students who choose to go.

TEACHER FEATURE — Mr. John Szot

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One of the most quintessential teachers at Andrean is Mr. John Szot. Currently, Mr. Szot teaches both levels of government, though he has taught a wide range of social studies classes over the past few decades, from European to African-American History. Most Andrean alumni had Szot’s class at some point in their high school career.

Szot has also coached and moderated many of the Andrean academic teams. Recently he has passed on the coaching responsibility to other teachers, but he still stays involved with the programs.

Szot describes his teaching style as “high-energy,” something most of his students will agree. Oftentimes his classes will involve activities such as debates and oral presentations. One of his more well-known activities involves each student designing a congressional bill of their choice. The more successful bills get sent to the House and Senate (the other government classes) for approval. Activities such as these are what set Szot’s class apart for many students.

Szot’s class will often be remembered for the eccentric lectures and unique activities and his main goal, which isn’t for his students to pass a test.

“I want political culture; I want political socialization. That’s my job,” Szot said.

Szot constantly reminds his students that nothing changes unless the citizens, and his students, go to the polls.

Student Spotlight — Michaela McGarel

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When watching a live musical performance, it’s easy to forget how much work goes into a production. Andrean Senior Michaela McGarel knows exactly how much work goes into musical theatre. In fact, McGarel dreams of starring on Broadway and plans on studying musical theatre in college.

McGarel’s passion for musicals began in grade school where she starred as Mary Magdalene in her eighth-grade production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Since then, she has had varying roles in school productions. Her favorite thus far was Fiona in the spring musical Shrek.

“[Fiona is] such a fun role to play. She’s goofy, awkward, funny, and loves to defy the rules of fairy tales,” McGarel said.

McGarel loves musical theatre specifically because she strives to be what she calls a triple threat.

“Being a triple threat in theatre means that someone is able to sing, dance, and act,” McGarel said. “It’s extremely hard to master all three of these and I love the challenge of achieving this.”

The college admissions process was grueling for McGarel, with stressful auditions on top of the standard essays and forms. Even within the auditions themselves, McGarel had to constantly think on her feet.

“I was surprised when I was asked to tell a joke in one audition and perform a tap step in another. Musical theatre is full of many requirements and is getting more competitive every day,” McGarel said.

McGarel has taken on the lead role of Mary Poppins in the Niners’ upcoming spring musical. She and the rest of the theatre company will hit the stage later this spring.

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