Bigger school, better opportunity

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By: Jaclyn Chen <jchen@hilite.org>

Ridiculous.

That’s the word that senior J.C. Pankratz uses when she describes her home-base at school, the performing arts department. Describing in terms of resources, that is.
“It is kind of ridiculous when you think about what we have,” Pankratz said. “I mean, just think about it.”

And so I took her advice and brainstormed a bit: the multiple stages, the extensive backstage, the shop where the technical crew builds the set, the costume shop that houses all the sparkly outfits that probably clothed the Ambassadors in 1976… the list just goes on and on, and those are just the resources that I, a non-drama student, am privy to.

Pankratz said, “The resources that we have access to are just so extensive – most people don’t understand. We are so blessed to have all these things.”

A member of several clubs and organizations, she is active in the drama productions, both behind-the-scenes and on stage. This fall, she is testing her directing skills with the Studio One Acts. In addition to theater, she is involved in speech team, WRAP, Amnesty International and SAGE; those are just her “main” activities, as if to say there are more she did not name.

“I guess all of those interests are creative outlets,” Pankratz said. “You don’t really get time during academic classes to be creative.”

Opportunities like the creative ones presented to Pankratz best showcase our school’s increasing population. The 2007-08 school year’s enrollment is up by about 150 students in comparison to last. According to a February demographic study, the school population should level and start its decrease by the 2011-12 school year.

Many students complain about the congestion in the hallways, and while that is a valid concern, the upside outweighs those temporary moments of discomfort. Invasion of personal bubble aside, the overall increase in students equals an increase in resources and programs available to us.

Only at Carmel can students find eight different languages, 86 IHSAA State championships (the second closest is North Central with 55), a shop class that builds an entire house on campus and clubs that sprout by the minute. Only at Carmel can students access computer labs in every single department, not to mention the computers available in many classrooms, student-directed radio and TV stations and high-tech projection equipment in the Freshman Center.

Our school, which is the size of a small college, allows students to pursue nearly any interest possible outside of academics. We’ve all heard the speech about how easy it is to join a club or form one if there isn’t one palatable for a certain interest. For Pankratz, she said her extracurricular activities allow her to explore her interest in creative writing, something she hopes to pursue in college.

“You’re not really ever creative in, say, a science class. (The clubs that I’m involved in) are good ways to open up and let forth what (I) have inside,” Pankratz said.

Another resource is the pool of faculty members who contribute their own talents and interests, Pankratz said. She said that, for example, she credits much of the operations and continuity year after year of WRAP to Connie Mitchell, sponsor and media specialist. “It’s hard to find teachers who are so passionate about what they’re not paid to do. Without Mrs. Mitchell to sponsor WRAP, we wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things,” Pankratz said.

This is not to say that no sour grapes exist, but size is definitely not one of them. The size of our school allows for the best athletes to compete on the fields, a plethora of resources to fund almost any activity and a diverse student population not duplicated anywhere else in the state.

For college preparation, a large size is also ideal. Carmel sits on 55 acres of land, so come college time, there won’t be any freak-outs or complaints that one has to walk more than 100 feet to get to class or that a lecture has more than 20 people enrolled. Imagine what our school would be like if Carmel was a normal high school and half its size: students could only learn from half of the faculty members established here, athletes would not be able to access programs that might otherwise be currently available. There is much more to gain from size than to lose.

Let’s let our size speak for itself, and explore the resources that Carmel has to offer.

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