Expanding Horizons: Student activities outside the walls of WHS

Katherine Wistner, Iris Editor-In-Chief

WHS has a reputation of unbeatable sports teams, award winning theater, and of course an outstanding newspaper. Students boast about juggling their extracurricular activities with intense academic classes, and not even taking a gym exemption. If you aren’t involved in the school, what do you do with all your free time? Well, many people participate in various activities that are not affiliated with the high school. Some can even be a greater time commitment than a varsity sport or the school play. These people do not seem to get enough recognition for their interests, so here are their stories. 

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  • Competitive Dancer: 9th grader, Maria Costa, has been dancing at Fusion Dance Center in Roselle Park for eight years. “I dance almost everyday, it requires just as many hours and days as a sport here would,” Costa said. Due to her vigorous dance schedule outside of school, Costa does not have time to join the high school dance team. Costa said she feels judged for not participating in a school sport. No matter what, Costa loves to dance, so why should it matter where she does it?

  • Jewelry Designer: Employee of about 2 months and high school junior, Julia Mackey, is already making jewelry for Just Bead Yourself to sell. She found this job through her love for jewelry and had previously taken a jewelry making class at FIT. Mackey explained how she budgets her time to accommodate having this job, “I try to schedule things outside of when I know I’ll be working and get my homework done before I go to work."

  • Frisbee Player: “We’ve made the state finals for the past five or six years,” said Junior Russell Cohen. Is that the high school football team? No, it’s the Westfield Blue Devils Frisbee team. Despite all of this success, the Frisbee team has not been given the recognition that Russell thinks it deserves. The Class of 2021 is even the biggest team ever in the program, yet another reason to give this sport your support.

  • BBYO VP of Programming: B'nai Brith Youth Organization, something you probably have never heard of, is essentially a national Jewish youth group. Junior Amanda Wendler is the Vice President of Programing for her region (central and northern New Jersey). “It’s the equivalent of an AP class because I have a high level position. I probably do like 1-2 hours a night, but it can be upwards of 4,” Wendler explained.

  • Band Member: After doing theater last year and finding some kids who liked the same music as her, sophomore Katie Miles decided to form a band with them. Although they are still working on a name, the band had their first show over the weekend at a venue called The Meatlocker. “I kind of want to write my own music,” Miles said, “but we’re just doing covers right now.”

  • Waitress: Waitressing is hard work, and being a high school student is even harder, but senior Brianna Denny somehow manages the two. She has worked at La Casa Pizza for two years, and in addition to waitressing, Denny helps to make certain foods. “I decided to do it because I wanted the option of financial independence,” Denny stated. She also works with her best friend, which is a nice perk to the job.

  • Professional Actress: Ever seen Dora and Friends, Inside Amy Schumer, or Celebrity Ghost Stories? If so, you may have been watching junior Sophie Tananbaum. She started acting professionally at eight years old and is now part of SAG (Screen Actors Guild). ¨Whenever your agent calls for an audition, you have to drop everything, which is challenging when you have a lot of homework or other plans,¨ Tananbaum said. ¨ But I love to act, so it's worth the commitment .¨

  • Don’t get stuck in the mold of what you think your life is supposed to look like in high school, and perhaps miss out on your true passion. As these students demonstrated, it is okay to not choose the traditional route. Expand your own horizons, or at least appreciate the ones who do.

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