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#1StudentNWI: Ending 2017 with Morton Holiday Cheer

What’s Been “HAPAning?”

In the winter months, the Hammond Academy for the Performing Arts is always in its prime. With piano and guitar recitals, band concerts, and black box musicals, there’s always an event to attend because the performance season is at its busiest.

Farewell Edges

The weekend of December 7th, the Academy opened its black box musical, based on the concept of self-discovery, Edges: The Musical. Although this performance had a significantly smaller cast in comparison to most HAPA productions, it was a huge success. Through numerous song numbers that varied from humorous to tear-jerking, the audience was captivated by an emotional rollercoaster.

A Kick off to the Holiday Season

The Hammond Academy for the Performing Arts hosted their annual HAPA Holidays performance on Tuesday, December 19th. Hundreds of audience members gathered into the Morton Auditorium to see performances by the Choir, Acting, Dance, Band, Guitar and Piano majors. To conclude the night, the HAPA student body collaborated with the band and Morton’s principal, Greg Easton, to perform the finale, a rendition of Happy Holiday and White Christmas.

Teacher Spotlight

This past school year, Morton introduced a new program to its curriculum. The College Blueprint had already existed in some of the high schools in the Hammond district. This year, Morton decided to join the program. The College Blueprint, funded through the Hammond Education Foundation, is a college readiness program that helps college-bound seniors apply for schools, scholarships, and file FAFSA.

Morton’s Blueprint instructor is Morton Alum Rafael Duarte. Having graduated from Purdue Northwest in 2013, Duarte also takes the role of the English as a New Language (ENL) instructor at Morton. Duarte accredits his personal experiences as his reasons for pursuing being a teacher.

“I was also an English learner myself, after being brought here from El Salvador when I was eight. My ENL teacher, especially, was influential to me and continues to be a mentor,” said Duarte.

Through the Blueprint program, Duarte’s students mentor elementary students at a nearby Hammond Elementary school through the “On Governor’s Shoulders” program.

“I remember seeing the awkwardness of those first Google Hangouts calls, in the first weeks of school. The mentors had no idea how to sustain 30-minute conversations with kids they had never met,” Duarte remarked.

As the weeks progressed, the program had much success. The younger students looked forward to their Monday morning video calls and started progressing both academically and behaviorally. Prior to Winter Break, Duarte organized for both sets of students to finally meet each other. On December 22nd, the younger students came to Morton to have lunch and make friendship bracelets with their mentors.

Duarte proudly remarked, “The mentors and mentees truly enjoyed seeing each other face to face.”

Hammond’s Dancing with the Stars


Every year, the Hammond Academy for the Performing Arts Dance Department performs their annual fundraiser, Dancing with the Stars. For the show, select members from the Hammond Community partner with student dancers in the HAPA Dance Ensemble to compete against one another, essentially a rendition of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.

This year, stars from the Hammond community include Morton staff: Mr. Duarte, Ms. Ramirez, Ms. Turner, Mr. Walker and former Morton Administrator Mr. Browning. The lucky students dancing with the exceptional Hammond community members are LeAndrea Rainey, Artrell Brown, Kevin Givens, Adrian Stout, and Lindsey Whitaker.

As a way to give back to the community, on Saturday, January 27th, there will be free dance classes offered by the HAPA Dance Department. Classes will range from contemporary to ballroom from 12-3 pm. The show will follow at 7 pm. Tickets will be $10 for adults and $8 for students/seniors.

Hello Sister Act


As one HAPA production ends, another starts up. The main commotion at HAPA is always, “What will this year’s Mainstage Musical be?” Past productions include Cats, Cinderella, and Scrooge: The Musical. Although each musical has been a success, everyone is ecstatic for this year’s musical, Sister Act. On the week of December 11th, auditions for Sister Act began. Many of students not only from the HAPA community but also the Morton community auditioned. On December 18th, the cast list was revealed. The leading role of Deloris Van Carter will be played by Junior, Felicita Velez. Although Sister Act won’t open until March of 2018, save the date! It is a must-see performance!

Student Highlight


Student athletes are always an exceptional group of students both within and outside of the classroom. The endless hours of dedication on the field or court, while also maintaining a high grade point average can be rigorous. However, the time sacrifices made pay off for many student-athletes. Hannah Hammar is a prime example of a motivated student-athlete. Hammar is a senior at Morton High School where she dedicates her time as a three-sport athlete. Hannah runs cross country in the fall, plays basketball in the winter, and competes in track and field during the spring. During her time at Morton, Hammar has broken several of Morton’s track records- her most notable being in the 1600 meter run and the 1600 meter relay. She’s is also a four-time Conference Champion and Regional qualifier for Cross Country and Track. In terms of awards, she has received 13 varsity letters [and counting] and received numerous awards for being “Most Valuable Performer.”

Hammar firmly believes that as a student-athlete, she has to prioritize her education.

“As a student-athlete, I have to work ten times harder to get good grades to make sure that I am eligible to play. Giving it my all at practice or at a game helps me release any stress from school or conflicting emotions that I have,” she remarked.

Recently, Hannah decided that she would be pursuing athletics at a collegiate level. In November, Hammar signed to play basketball with Indiana University Northwest in the Fall of 2018.

“Signing has to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. I never thought that it would happen to me and I’m beyond grateful that it did. It truly is a moment I’ll cherish forever.”

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