Hammes is Newman High School’s January student of the month

Espen Hammes

STERLING – Espen Hammes, a senior, has been selected as Newman Central Catholic High School’s student of the month for January.

Hammes’ parents are Bernadette and Timothy Hammes, and he has a sister, Reagan.

What class do you find really engaging and why?: Right now, it’s English 103. English has been my favorite class for a few years now primarily due to Mrs. Donna Spencer, who teaches 103, and Mr. Paul Magnafici, who I’ve had for English courses in the past. Both show a clear love of the subject, which has undeniably rubbed off on me.

I find English so engaging because it really encompasses every other subject. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in learning about a wide array of different subjects, and the level of English that I’m enrolled in now really makes apparent what a powerful tool reading, writing and speaking are in every aspect of our lives, while also teaching me how to use them to the fullest.

I just finished a paper last week on the emergence of movements/genres in music throughout the 1960s and 1970s, which ended up being around 15 pages and is a good example of the sort of projects we get to work on in 103. Not to mention it was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had writing a paper.

What are your career and post-graduation plans? What school(s) or other instruction, travel or endeavors do you have planned?: As far as higher education goes, I’m seeking a master’s degree in architecture, which I hope to receive from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but I’m looking to get some traveling done before I get locked into college.

A close friend of mine and I are flying out to New England this summer and are discussing some other, more manageable road trips throughout the summer. That same week, a group of guys and I are heading up to Madison to catch the Pixies and Modest Mouse perform. Music is my main hobby, so that’s honestly the thing I’m looking forward to most when I graduate.

What are your two favorite extracurricular, volunteer or community activities you participate in?: Book Club has to be my favorite, and that’s likely because I’m the president, if I’m being frank. Our Book Club at Newman is a little unorthodox, as we mainly pertain to short stories and poetry, but as president I get to select what pieces we’ll discuss at the meeting.

I was really into learning about the Beat Generation this summer, so first semester I had us read a piece by Allen Ginsberg, which I went over pretty well and, in turn, made me feel pretty good about myself. It’s just such a great opportunity to be in a position where you can play teacher, especially at this age, and then hearing my classmates’ insights and learning from those, too, is the icing on top.

Close behind that would be my internship at the Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society. Not only because I get to learn there as well, but because it came about from my love of learning. As a kid, I was involved in a camp during the summer put on by the society called Junior Historians, and I’d participated in that until I got old enough to help oversee it. That garnered me some attention from my now boss, Mr. Terry Buckaloo, and got me hired there. It’s really connected me with this area and opened my eyes to how much history it has, which isn’t really a thing you can just stumble on.

Please share a moment, group event or activity at school that was meaningful or memorable.: I ended up not going out for cross country this year, but the memories I have with that team are the most meaningful throughout my high school years. Most notably, we’ve been holding an annual “Chicken Nugget Night” since my sophomore year, where we buy as many chicken nuggets from McDonald’s as we can and have a contest to see who can eat the most. Last year we filmed the whole thing, starting from a meet in Peoria, and put the whole thing together in a sort of documentary. It’s a memory I’m going to hold on to for the rest of my life, and having that video makes it all the more vivid.

What is your hope for the future?: Keep balanced. That’s been my personal philosophy for a little while now, and it’s worked out pretty well. Never getting too up or too down, taking the good with the bad, etc. College comes with a near-complete reset as for what you need to balance, and I’m hoping I can hold on to things such as my love of reading or writing or history (I’d mention music too, but there’s no way I’d lose that), and then build a nice segue for those things into my adult life.

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema is the editor of Sauk Valley Media.