The Valparaiso School Corporation is dedicated to providing a safe and supportive educational environment, from elementary school, to middle school, to high school and beyond as students pave their way for a successful future, whatever their chosen endeavor. The schools provide a dedicated and talented staff, exceptional parent support, and strong community partnerships, which is why they are fortunate to be one of Indiana’s premier school systems. The following are just a few of the exemplary students that have graduated this year from Valparaiso High School and their stories.
Alyssa Jones attended Memorial Elementary School and Ben Franklin Middle School where she was involved in Builders Club, Creating a Safer School (CASS), and volleyball. At Valparaiso High School she has been involved in both academic extracurricular activities, as well as athletics, along with displaying stellar academic success. Jones says, “I’ve been involved in Spanish Club, National Honor Society, Calculus Club, and Volleyball all four years. I also do a lot volunteering. For National Honor Society we tutored kids from Ben Franklin Middle School afterschool. We were split into groups based on the areas they kids needed help with, like math or science, and we helped them study and quizzed them or helped them with homework. We also helped them work together so they learned to problem solve by working as a team. I also helped with an elementary summer school class and it was a math class so we worked one-on-one with the kids because there were too many for the teacher to help. We got really close to the students.”
It was this experience that inspired Jones’s plans for her future. “Working with the elementary summer school class helped to shape what I want to do which is speech language pathology. I enjoy working with kids and knowing I’m actually helping them out and doing something worthwhile is important to me. They’re reactions are very rewarding,” she says.
Her experience in Valparaiso High School athletics was also critical to building Jones’s character. She explains, “You get really close with your team. We practice every day and at tournaments it’s a real bonding experience. You get really close and work together to be accomplished. Also a lot of the girls that play that are serious on varsity, were on club volleyball as well and these are girls who have played travel volleyball since we were little so we are really close and you can tell on the court, the way we are able to communicate.”
Jones will be attending Purdue University in the fall and plans to double major in speech pathology and psychology with a minor in Spanish. “Both of my parents went to Purdue and I’ve been to volleyball camp here. I’m really excited because once I decided I wanted to pursue speech pathology I found that Purdue’s master’s program in speech pathology is rated fifth in the country so I hope to pursue that. But it was my experience at Valparaiso that paved the way for my plans. Valparaiso High School has made me really comfortable with myself and others. The teachers are great and help you with anything you need. It has led me to a promising future,” says Jones.
Patrick Dalton also began his education at Valparaiso early in his childhood. “I went to Cooks Corners Elementary School and Ben Franklin Middle School where I was involved in Science Olympiad, cross country and track. At Valparaiso High School I have been involved in cross country and track, which is a pretty large commitment, Spanish Club, Natural Helpers, National Honors Society, calculus club, and the Alliance for Students Against Poverty,” says Dalton.
His dedication to athletics has not only developed Dalton into a competitor, but also developed his character. He says, “Cross country and track have taught me a lot about character and leadership. All of my friends are from the cross country team and it has taught me that hard work definitely does pay off. You have to train to get better. The coaches are very good and our assistant coach has inspired me to strive for my best. He was a big reason I got better, and that transferred over to my academics. I learned to really push myself. As a result I am in the top 10 percent of my class and I will be attending Purdue in their honors college. I will pursue a degree in accounting and finance. I would like to start my own wealth management firm, dealing with stocks and bonds. I’ve always been decent at math and wanted to go down a math route and know a few accountants and a person in wealth management and figured an accounting degree would be a good base for a wealth management job.”
Dalton says the rigorous academics at Valparaiso High School and extracurricular choices were impressive. “Going into my freshmen year at Valpo I didn’t expect so many opportunities. With the advanced placement classes at VHS it really is a prestigious school with regard to that. They definitely prepare you for what lies ahead in college,” he says.
Peter Fink, attended Hayes Leonard Elementary School before moving to Ben Franklin Middle School where he was involved in cross country, football, and track. “I also did the Blues Project with Scott Czelbar which is in celebration of Black History Month. It’s a show where middle school students play blues music alongside middle school teachers and local musicians and it got me really inspired to continue in music,” Fink says.
As a result, Fink has pursued music at the high school level, taking it to the community. “I’ve been involved in the band all four years and take trombone lessons and do solo work. I’ve won two gold medals at state for ISSMA and am in the A-Band and lead the section which is fun. I think the high school has an outstanding music department and I’ve gotten a really quality music education there and grown that way. I’m also in jazz band after school and next year I hope to be the Notre Dame marching band. It has always been my dream to go there so it’s a dream come true. I will be pre-med as a Spanish major. I’m interested in pediatrics,” Fink says.
It is not only his experience in music, but also his strength in academics. “I think Valparaiso is one of the best high schools around and I have loved my experience there. It is so strong academically as well as strong in extracurricular and athletics. I was able to foster all of my interests and there are a lot of really good teachers. I was in tennis for four years and ran distance track for two years, both of which have been great experiences. I’ve learned a lot about physical toughness as well as mental toughness which is just as valuable. Mr. Polizotto, my track coach and biology teacher, has taught me about attitude and that everything in life is a choice and if you make the right choice with the right attitude you can accomplish your goals,” Fink says.