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#1StudentNWI: Chesterton Kicks off the School Year with Arts and Community Success


Student Spotlight: Molly Grimes
Rising senior Molly Grimes was a part of South Shore Leadership Youth for Community Engagement this past school year, and has developed many important skills because of it. One of the most important things she gained from the experience was closer ties to her community.

“By far, the most important thing I have gotten out of SLYCE is the connections I made with not only my fellow peers,” Grimes said, “but also important members of the community.”

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One of the goals was to plan Colors of the Region, a concert held at the Porter Health Amphitheater in Central Park Plaza on June 30. Many local bands performed, and local eateries provided food trucks. The students of SLYCE played a huge role in planning the event.

“As we were developing the event, we got to peek into the real world and the intricacies that go into planning such large events,” Grimes noted. “However tough it may have been, it was ultimately rewarding on the day of the event to see what we had been able to pull off as a group.”

Grimes’ advice to any high schooler who wants to get more involved in the community is to first get more involved at school.

“Joining clubs at your school helps you network with your peers, but also with larger members of the community,” Grimes advised. “With this networking you will have a better insight in what needs to be done in your community, and how you could help make this positive change occur.” (Photos provided by Molly Grimes)

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What’s Happening in Chesterton
Even though the summer months are winding down, there are still interesting things happening in Chesterton. On Aug. 5 and 6, the 59th Annual Chesterton Art Fair is being held at Dogwood Park. The event is curated by the Chesterton Art Center.

On Saturday, the event is going to be held from 10 to 5, and on Sunday it will be held from 10 to 4. Every year, around a hundred artists showcase their work and attract art lovers from all over the Midwest. Many pieces are available for purchase, and there will be various types of art on display, including 2D mixed media, 3D mixed media, clay, drawing, fiberglass, leather, metalsmithing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and wood.

Besides the art itself, the annual Art Fair will also include live music by regional musicians, as well as concessions from local vendors such as Chesterton Women of the Moose, Ivy’s Bohemia House, Chesterton Dairy Queen, Redamak’s Patty Wagon from New Buffalo, and St. Elizabeth’s Orthodox Church. There is a $5 entrance fee, but children 12 and under are free.

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What’s Coming Up at the School
As Chesterton students get ready to come back for another school year, the freshmen and seniors will get a little extra help.

From Aug. 7th to the 10th, many seniors will be attending the College Application Camp. From 3 to 6 pm, students will get to work on the Common Application with the assistance of teachers and guidance counselors. Students are encouraged to bring their own laptops, but the guidance department will also be providing about 60 Chromebooks. On the first day of the camp, the students get all the “school information” they need for the general portion of the application, but if they come with their family information, counsellors say they may be able to complete the rest of the general portion on that first day.

For the incoming freshmen, the second Trojan Charge will be held as an orientation. There, freshmen will get to see and review their schedule, check out their locker, and attend a club fair to find out more information about the clubs at CHS. They will also get to talk to upperclassmen about their experiences at CHS and take a building tour. Trojan Charge is Aug. 9 from 8 am to 1 pm, and lunch will be provided.

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Community Spotlight: Zel Rau of Lotus Reach
Started by Zel Rau in mid-2016, Lotus Reach is a charity that currently aides families in need of clothes, shoes, and other such items for their children. The program currently works with families in Porter County, and created the School Closet program in Chesterton, Valparasio, and Hebron schools.

“School Closet was created in 2016 at Liberty Elementary School,” Rau explained, “after I was exposed to the need during my volunteer time at my kids’ school. It was heartbreaking to see some of the kids with minimal to none of the necessary clothing items. A child should never go to school without proper undergarments and spend all day worrying if their peers will know. A child should have a winter coat during our harsh winter months. If we even help a handful of children in any particular school, we made a difference.”

Rau estimates that the team has acquired around 400 bags of clothes for the School Closet so far. Lotus Reach also serves homeless shelters in the area as needed. In Nov. 2016, the team did Wishing Trees for the first time, and just finished up their Back to School Trees.

“We had trees at Duneland YMCA, Fireflies Fun Zone, Red Cup, Running Vines, Legacy Nutrition, Tate’s Place, Aftermath Cidery & Winery, Excel Nutrition, Hera Cut & Color Boutique, Le Peep, Roots Organic Juice Cafe, Suzie’s Cafe & Catering, and Valpo Chamber of Commerce. We cannot thank them and their customers enough for their donations.”

Christmas Wishing Trees will again be out from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15. Lotus Reach is also having a buffet fundraiser at Don Quijote in Valpo on Oct. 1 from 12 to 4 p.m. Tickets will be available on their Facebook page.

“Of course, we also collect gently used clothing and shoes all year, and have partnered with a recycling company to properly recycle all unused clothes,” Rau added. “One can say Lotus Reach not only helps our community with supplying necessary clothing items and shoes to those in need, but we are also very aware of keeping our planet clean.” (Photos courtesy of Lotus Reach Facebook)

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