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#1StudentNWI: Gavit's Eventful February

What’s Recently Happened? 
On February 16, the Gavit Choir traveled to Indianapolis to compete at the Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA) state competition. It was an exciting experience for the choir members. The Woodmar Singers ensemble received a gold medal for their interpretation of “Ask Me No More” by Ruth Morris Gray. The Woodmar Ladies ensemble received a silver medal for their interpretation of “Danny Boy” arranged by Mark Hayes.

In addition to the ensembles, Gavit had seven soloists compete at ISSMA. Soelys Ocasio received a silver medal. Katie Reyna, Gabriella Winchell, Gabe Corona, Jimena Esparza, and Valeria Esparza received gold medals. Haylee Needham received a distinguished gold medal. Congratulations to Gavit’s Choir for their amazing work at ISSMA state competition!

Teacher Spotlight
Ms. Smolar, a history teacher known for her love of President Teddy Roosevelt, has been teaching at Gavit High School for four years. Throughout college, Smolar changed her major multiple times. It wasn’t until Smolar studied abroad that she realized she wanted to become a teacher.

“On a whim I did a study abroad experience in Honduras where I taught social studies at a bilingual school and I loved every minute of it. I knew right then and there that teaching is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Smolar said.

Smolar has always had a passion for history. She believes that history helps us understand the world around us, and that history is a way for us learn from our past mistakes to make a better future.

“The historical context found in every-day life is remarkable and there is such a value to understanding why things are the way they are,” she said. “I know that some of my students are going to end up changing the world and I hope they can take what they’ve learned about history and use that to avoid past mistakes and to continue the progress made by countless people before them.” As a side note, Smolar said President Roosevelt was just a fascinating man, she doesn’t know why anyone wouldn’t enjoy learning about him.

Smolar worked with the National History Academy to teach U.S. History and American Democracy to about 100 students from across the country. In the program, teachers used Professor David Moss’ case method from Harvard Business School that gives the students an in depth education of different historical events, and allows them to become decision makers themselves.

“I’ve found that it makes them excited to learn history and that’s all I’ve ever wanted for my students,” Smolar said. “HBS sent a film crew to Gavit for a day to film the AP US history and civics classes for a video on the case method. It was an amazing experience for all involved and the students here are mastering the course and the case discussions just as well as the Harvard students themselves,” Smolar said.

Together with Mrs. Osan, Smolar is one of the Class of 2019’s sponsors. She enjoys this because it allows her to spend time with her students and get to know them outside of the classroom setting. Smolar said she enjoys seeing the growth in her students from excited but often unsure freshman into the confident and determined seniors they are today.

Smolar wants her students to find their passion in life and to pursue it fiercely and unapologetically.

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“Take chances. Remember that much of what you see on social media is a façade. Live life for the moment and not the picture your going to take of it. And always be kind to others. Always remember that we’re here for you and even after graduation our doors are always open,” she said.

Student Spotlight
Dawn Pawlak is a senior at Gavit High School who is known for her athleticism in cross country and softball. Pawlak has won awards such as Cross Country Conference Champion (2015 and 2018), Softball Honorable Mention (2018), and Cross Country and Softball MVP (2016, 2017, 2018).

Pawlak started playing t-ball at age 5, and enjoyed it so much that she later turned to softball.

“I decided to continue playing softball because it was a passion of mine since I was young. I spent countless years playing and making myself better so I wanted to continue playing it at the highest level possible,” Pawlak said.

Pawlak’s hard work led her to become Gavit High School’s first NCAA Division-I athlete in many years. She was thrilled to sign with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to play softball. It is everything she wanted in a school.

“I decided to sign to Green Bay because once I stepped foot on campus I instantly fell in love. The coaching staff and team were so welcoming to me that I became very comfortable there. Green Bay has a lot to offer academically which made it easy for me to find my major there,” Pawlak said.

In addition to being a great athlete, Pawlak is also a part of the Natural Helpers Rainbow Staff. She attended the Natural Helpers Retreat (a retreat that teaches students skills for different situations) as a junior, and said it gave her a new look on life.

“It changed my views on things and overall made me a better person. I wanted to see the retreat in a new perspective and give lifetime memories to the Juniors going on this retreat,” Pawlak said.

Pawlak hopes that the Natural Helpers Retreat positively affects the juniors going this year.

Pawlak’s advice to other students: “Too many of us get caught up into things we can’t control, or negative perspectives that take away from the beautiful life we are living. Get your priorities done and then make the most of your free time in enjoying what makes you happy,” she said.

What’s Coming Up?
Gavit’s students know it’s time for the biannual blood drive when they see the dancing blood drop in the cafeteria during lunch! Although the blood drop was missed this year, the students were still eager to sign up for the blood drive. The students are always happy to donate blood and save a life.  

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