#1StudentNWI: Put down the sunscreen and sunglasses, school’s coming to a start in Hammond

What recently happened?

On July 3, the Wolf Lake Pavilion held a free firework show accompanied by live music performances in honor of the Fourth of July (Independence Day).

Independence Day took place on July 4, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress espoused the writings of the Declaration of Independence, officially declaring its detachment from Britain. 

Commonly, people celebrate by attending parades, lighting or watching fireworks, having a backyard barbecue, and dressing patriotically in the North American flag colors.

Festival of the Lakes took place at Wolf Lake from Wednesday, July 12 to Sunday, July 16. The festival was free to the public besides on Saturday when Lil Wayne performed. Going from the first day (Wednesday) to last (Sunday) the headlining performers were: Ashanti and Ja Rule, Brothers Osborne, Stone Temple Pilots, Lil Wayne, Luis Angel “El Flaco.” 

The opening performers were, from the first day (Wednesday) to last (Sunday), DJ Nonstop, Ingrid Andress as well as Nate Venturelli, Local H and 89Minds, DJ Pharris and DJ KCeaser as well as Trina, and Banda Peñasco de Zacatecas and Mariachi Estrellas de Chicago.

There were activities included such as: carnival rides, food and non-food vendors, and carnival games available to play. A notable fun complementary activity was the free boat rides offered around Wolf Lake.

While in preparation for the school year, orientation for Hammond Central’s (HC) students had taken place on Tuesday, August 1. The freshman and the recurring grade’s orientation were separated, having the freshman class of 2027 come to HC from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. while the other grades come in from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

On August 2, HC also hosted a ‘Back to School Celebration’ which involved giveaways for the students in attendance, though supplies are limited. They also included vaccinations, food, haircuts, music, dentists, various vendors and plenty more took place. 

What’s coming up?

With school right around the corner, students have to prepare themselves for a drastic change in the environment they’re not normally used to. 

For the 2023-2024 School City of Hammond’s year, a no-phone policy has been enforced in the Student Code of Conduct Handbook. Students must have their cell phones off during the school day and contained in their locker (applies to high school and middle school students) or collected by their teacher (applies for elementary students). 

The School City of Hammond’s reasoning for the sudden change was to create an ideal positive learning environment – cell phones had to go since they are a distraction for a majority of students. 

With former HC Principal David Verda stepping down from his position and retiring, a new person has come to fill his shoes. Former principal of Annie Burns-Hicks Elementary School, previously Maywood Elementary, Dameca Harrison will be HC’s new principal this year. 

The first day of school will be on Monday, August 14. 

Community member spotlight: 

HC’s Class of 2023’s Valedictorian Ada Austin will be setting off to find her path at her chosen college, Notre Dame University. 

During Austin’s Valedictorian speech, she reflected on how her class has grown from its past and how that will reflect in the future. 

Initially, Austin’s summer consisted of meeting up with her friends post-graduation, and Austin also had the opportunity to go to a month-long summer program for Notre Dame’s undergraduates. Austin was able to meet people with similar backgrounds while taking classes that simulated how their college environment would be. She was able to get a jump ahead in the opportunity of gaining a community of support and friends before the semester starts. 

Austin was accepted into all the big named universities she applied for such as Cornell University, DePaul University, and the college she’s planning on attending, Notre Dame. Austin has her belief in what’s the key to the writing process of college essays for prestigious schools. 

“The biggest thing would be staying true to who I am, and always remaining authentic. As I sat down to write my college essay I had to sit down and ask myself my core beliefs and philosophies, and what I value in life. The holistic college process would not want to have a universal story about you that’s not really genuine, but rather something that speaks to you and your journey. If you plan on going to a big-named college, I suggest you figure out how you decide to present your story,” Austin said.

Austin is currently enrolled under the business program for the Mendoza College of Business, where she intends to major in finance and double minor in real estate and philosophy. She also plans to participate in different opportunities like the Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program and clubs that relate to her interests.

Austin realizes the struggle that African Americans, especially women, have endured in the past and was sure to keep that in mind when she influences others.

“It has made me make sure I set a standard to inspire others like me, as well as be sure to be educated on what it means to look at an overlooked problem through the lens of others’ experiences. That has caused me to look within myself and take a bigger look at how history has not favored black women and figure out how I can contribute to pave the way for others,” Austin said. 

Outside of academics, Austin enjoys playing tennis, walking, going to the park, and spending time with her family. 

Austin has some words of advice for any upcoming or current high schoolers.

“Be sure to ask for support from teachers and staff if you have any questions whether it be during class or privately. Gaining support from others, whether it be from teachers, friends, or family, will always be something to be a good weapon in your academic and personal success as sometimes it is important to help relinquish control and gain semblance,” Austin said.

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