The CHIEF March 2024


MAR, 2023



Get to know a little bit more about our new autos teacher Mr. Gragert!

Check out which PTHS seniors are this month's Upperclass Acts

We have the privilege to welcome Mr. Gragert to PTHS! He grew up here in Pontiac and played football for a year in high school. After high school, he attended the Baran Institute of Technology in East Windsor, CT, where students commonly major in a field related to transportation, mechanics, and repair. His favorite part of college was the experiences he gained while getting to know and learning with people who shared his passion for cars. As a child, his dream was to open his own shop for customizing cars, and he always knew that he wanted to work on cars for a living. Before coming to PTHS, Mr. Gragert worked at a variety of places doing mechanical work for over 15 years, and then worked for 7 years as a correctional officer at the Pontiac Correctional Center. His favorite part about teaching is that there is always more to do in the field, that it could never grow dull, and “you never stop learning.” His advice to students would be: “Life throws curve balls, so don’t burn down your bridges. You never know when you might have to cross them again.” His parents are his role models in life, and they taught him to never give up on your dreams. They also taught him to always be kind to others, no matter the circumstances. His motivation every day is to see students succeed and learn a new skill that can help them continue to succeed for the rest of their lives. If Mr. Gragert could go on vacation anywhere in the world for free, he would go to Ireland. However, until he goes, he spends his time with his wife and kids and working on old cars. He has four dogs—a Great Dane, a Great Pyrenees, a Golden Retriever, and a Pomeranian—and two cats. Lastly, a fun fact about him is that he has a twin brother. Thank you, Mr. Gragert, for sharing about yourself. Welcome to PTHS! New Teacher Interview with Mr. Gragert By: Hannah Ricketts

Scholastic Bowl Update By: Lillian Rainbolt

The Scholastic Bowl team concluded a wonderful season this February. After much time and effort put in throughout the season, both Varsity and JV teams played terrifically. If you are unfamiliar with Scholastic Bowl, it is a team sport centered on trivia. There are “tossup” questions in which each of the five players on each team listen to a question being read and attempt to be the first to buzz in with the correct answer for ten points. Following a correctly answered tossup, there is a set of three “bonus” questions with the same category in which each team works collaboratively to come up with the answers for ten points each. The categories of each question vary, so topics anywhere from Socrates to Van Gogh to Harry Styles are covered. Some individuals on the team have general knowledge spanning several categories, while others are experts in one or two topics. No matter the expanse of your knowledge, Scholastic Bowl is a fun and friendly atmosphere to compete and share knowledge. While I was not present in any of the JV matches, many of the members excitedly reported to me their accomplishments. JV Coach Buchanan says, “The JV Scholastic Bowl Team fought hard all season. As a younger team made primarily of freshmen who had never been on a Scholastic Bowl team, they showed much improvement. I look forward to watching them grow as a team next season.” Special shoutouts to top JV scorers Josh Hartke, with 89 tossups, and Tyler Dreschel, with 47 tossups. My friends and I look forward to the Scholastic Bowl season every year, and we loved participating in this year’s Varsity matches. Shoutouts to frequent captains Michelle Stevenson, Nolan Fetgatter, and Elijah Hartke who continually had the stressful job of thinking on their toes to support their team. Varsity Coach McElwee comments on the season saying, “At the end of our season, we had played over 40 matches against teams in our conference. It's a testament to competitors' drive that they were able to compete in so many matches. This is doubly true when you look at where those matches fall: an eight-week period from January to the end of February that comes after our preparation through October-December. It really was an action-packed season, and I'm so proud of the hard work and dedication students give to Scholastic Bowl.”

Senior Perspective By: Vanessa Kapper

It’s my senior year, and honestly I have never enjoyed high school as much as I do now. I finally have a small circle of friends with whom freshman me could have needed, the classes I am taking aren’t nearly as difficult as previous years, and I am really enjoying the social aspect of high school. With spring break just around the corner, comes my last choir concert, music awards night, my first and last prom, SAT day which seniors get to skip, and then graduation. Can you believe it? The day that the class of 2024 has been longing for is just two more months, two more The Chief editions. It’s crazy how fast this second semester is flying and I am really learning how to take this last year all in. Lastly, if I can offer underclassmen any advice, I would tell them to explore their interests in high school and to be prepared for their aspirations to possibly change.

Band Update: Wonderful Experiences at ISU By: Lily Raby

On February 29, 2024, the PTHS Band got the fantastic opportunity to join the players in the ISU stadium to cheer them on with their Pep Band songs. Seeing all the smiling faces from the crowd as we blasted our stand tunes during the timeouts was amazing. Everyone in the audience was supportive of our efforts and how we took the time to be there. All the players, along with their coaches, were grateful and told us how great of a job we were doing. After a long while of playing, we finally got to pack up and go home after sitting in our chairs for thirteen hours. Despite the hard work it took, the experience was totally worth it. I've never seen so many people clap for our band unless it was our time at U of I for Marching Band. All in all, it was a fantastic experience that I would love to do again!

Creative Writing By: Jack Demopoulos

Creative writing is any writing that goes outside the normal professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature. Some examples of creative writing include “Ozymandias” by Percy Shelley, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Creative writing dives into a person's imagination and has them create anything their mind comes up with. Whether a dystopian society such as The Hunger Games or based in a futuristic bare wasteland such as “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” Harlan Ellison, each one of these works falls under creative writing. Here is a personal example:

While the above is a very short piece of creative writing, writing like this truly makes people wonder: What is going on for the restaurant to be abandoned? Why is he being looked at by multiple motionless people at once? Overall, creative writing makes readers think and crave more fragments of the author’s imagination.

Upperclass Acts

Destiny Smith

NAME: Destiny Smith




ROLE MODEL(S): My mom Lisa Steffens, Dr. Soares, Mr. Johanson, Mr. Nollen

ACTIVITIES @ PTHS: During my years here at PTHS I have not participated in many activities which I deeply regret due to little free time; however, I did participate in art, tennis, and as a Guidance Office Aide. FONDEST MEMORY OF HIGH SCHOOL SO FAR: The bus rides home from Tennis matches during my Junior year specifically, but tennis overall was definitely my fondest moment of high school so far. I loved the bus rides, because it was the moments I felt that we players were really a team and not only that, best friends too. As a tennis player you are always a team, but you are also competing against each other for top rank. This often caused drama within the team and not everyone got along. However, during those bus rides home, or just us players goofing off in practice, we managed to set our differences aside and just enjoy the sport we love! I will always treasure my time as a tennis player at PTHS. PLANS AFTER HIGH SCHOOL: When I walk the stage as a graduated student from PTHS on graduation night and receive my very well-earned diploma, many opportunities life has to offer will open up to me and I intend to take on as many as I can. As of right now, I have decided on going to Illinois Wesleyan University as a Nursing student and walking across that stage as a Nursing graduate in 2028 with my Bachelor’s. From here I will either be a Pediatrics or Trauma Nurse. After 5 years I want to start travel Nursing. After 10-15+ years I would like to obtain my real estate license and begin flipping houses as a family business. Alongside me will be my brother, Chance, who is a construction worker now and is working on being able to do heating and cooling. My overall goal in life is to truly live my life happy and at peace. This of course includes financial security, but life is much more than money. When I imagine happiness I imagine being happy, surrounded by good people, having the ability to be gracious and giving, traveling, taking care of those I love, and just simply living the life I have imagined for myself. FAVORITE TEACHER/CLASS: Mr. Nollen’s Anatomy Class is my favorite teacher and class. Mr. Nollen is both a serious and silly person; he manages to take all the stress and memories in his life, incorporate them into his work, and make it humorous. There is not a day where I don’t have a good laugh in his class and learn something new. I always imagined Mr. Nollen as this mean, serious, and strict teacher up until my junior year when I took his AP Biology class. I struggled so much in that class, but he broke it down to me in a way I understood and could remember which taught me how to study. I carry the techniques of studying he has taught me and they have drastically changed my life academically. I only wish I had mastered studying my freshman year. Mr. Nollen may seem intimidating but he truly isn’t and he is one of the most astonishing teachers I have encountered here at PTHS. 3 MAJOR AREAS OF INTEREST: Nursing, Pharmacology, and Real Estate

FAVORITE AUTHOR/BOOK: Frozen Charlotte: A Ghost Story by Alex Bell

MOST POSITIVE MOMENT: Obtaining my Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license in May of 2023.

PET PEEVES: Talking/chewing loudly in a movie theater, walking on the wrong side of the hallway (EXCEPT when trying to get to your locker), cutting the lunch line, road rage, etc. WHAT MY FRIENDS WILL REMEMBER ABOUT ME: No matter how hard life gets I refuse to let it get it to me. If you think you're going to have a bad day or things can’t get worse it most certainly will. A friend once told me that “You have to feed the positive dog.” I took what he told me as a way of thinking. If I think positively and do good deeds I will be a much happier person. So far, it has worked for me. HOW WOULD YOU SPEND $1,000,000? I would give 25,000 to charity, pay my way through college, build my mother's dream house, buy some farm animals like an energetic baby goat or a highland cow, adopt homeless dogs, go on a nice week or two vacation and put the rest in a savings account for retirement or emergency. IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND, WHAT 3 ITEMS WOULD YOU WANT WITH YOU? A bag of tools to build a shelter, a fishing pole for entertainment, and a pot to boil water or cook food. LAST WORDS OF ADVICE: “Don’t go through life constantly worrying about the future. Stay in the present, stay true to yourself, don’t let the bad things get to you or hold you back, appreciate what you have, never limit yourself, become the best you, and above all love yourself and do what makes you happy.”

Upperclass Acts

Hulija Jaoski

NAME: Hulija Jaoski

FAVORITE AUTHOR/BOOK: Interment by Samira Ahmed


ROLE MODEL(S): My parents

MOST POSITIVE MOMENT: My most positive moments are when I exceed in all of my classes.


FONDEST MEMORY OF HIGH SCHOOL SO FAR: Always having a good time with my friends at school events.

PET PEEVES: Being late, squeaky shoes

WHAT MY FRIENDS WILL REMEMBER ABOUT ME: They will probably remember how honest and caring I was and how I always tried to put a smile on their face.

3 MAJOR AREAS OF INTEREST: Traveling, music, learning new languages.

HOW WOULD YOU SPEND $1,000,000? I would invest it and buy a house for my parents.

PLANS AFTER HIGH SCHOOL: Go to college to get my bachelors in Elementary Education.

IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND, WHAT 3 ITEMS WOULD YOU WANT WITH YOU? Water, a hammock and a lighter LAST WORDS OF ADVICE: “Don’t be too hard on yourself. Enjoy high school because you will be a senior before you know it.”

FAVORITE MOVIE: Avengers: Endgame

MOST INSPIRATIONAL SONG: “The Champion” by Carrie Underwood


Unpopular Opinion: Christmas is the Worst Holiday By: Summer Negray

People today have forgotten about the meaning of Christmas. Regardless of religious beliefs, Christmas can be a time for families to come together and be reminded about how much they love each other. Yes, Christmas is known to be a time of generosity and kindness. However, most people become focused on the purchases rather than the quality family time! In the months leading up to Christmas, usually when you ask for something at the grocery store your mom hits you with “put it on your Christmas list.” Sometimes, even if this item is a necessity like deodorant or a new toothbrush. Parents can become stressed out about having enough money to be able to buy presents for their children. For example, an article written by Lendingtree suggests that, “Half of parents with kids younger than 18 say they're worried about disappointing their children if they don't spend enough on their holiday gifts this year, and 44% of them say they've lost sleep worrying about how to pay for them” (Davis). Maggie Davis took a survey with parents to see how presents affected their mood and family time in the months leading up to Christmas. She found that rather than parents being focused on spending time with their children, they were stressed about the money aspect of Christmas. It doesn't help that during Christmas time, corporations are pumping out commercial after commercial of new toys and gadgets that children/teens obviously desire. As a result of Christmas time being viewed as more of “Oh, I get toys and gifts,” rather than “I get to spend time with my family,” it's implanted in children and teens' brains that during the Christmas time of year, it's about them receiving something. We should be shifting our viewpoint of Christmas. Some may say, “Oh, but this is the time of giving.” However, you can give a gift without spending hundreds of dollars on it. Christmas time shouldn't be focused on “I get” or “I want it.” Instead, Christmas should be focused on being together.

Book Review

By Taylor Henson

Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley

The book I will be reviewing for this month’s article is Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley. Presley wrote about her experience dating the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. The memoir follows Priscilla as a young, fourteen-year-old girl who has to move to Germany due to her dad being in the army. Unbeknownst to her, Elvis Presley was drafted and in Germany at the same time. Priscilla found herself wrapped up in Elvis when she was scouted by his manager and was asked to meet him. She said yes with a little hesitation from her parents. They met and hit it off. Priscilla felt attached to Elvis. She would think about him every hour of every day. It became so bad that she was failing most of her classes due to not being able to study. The book then continues with her getting into a relationship with him. As his fame rises, Priscilla suspects he is being unfaithful. This book really shows the ups and downs of a seemingly, great relationship. Priscilla does a great job of describing a heartfelt, complicated relationship. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading autobiographies or to just get into reading because it’s such a fast paced book!

Editor-in-Chief: Vanessa Kapper The Chief Staff Jack Demopoulos Tyler Drechsel Brieaunna Duck Lily Fetgatter Megan Hensley Taylor Henson Kat Mercer Summer Negray Lily Raby Lilian Rainbolt Hannah Ricketts Lauren Russow Michelle Stevenson

Enjoy creative writing? If you ever would ever like to see your creative pieces in The Chief , contact Dr. Soares or Mr. Blair!

Mr. Blair, Faculty Sponsor Dr. Soares, Faculty Sponsor

Haiku Poems

The Boogieman creeps He lives in corner shadows He traumatizes

Nature is so fine Peaceful and very divine Even through all time

The gray clouds unfold Blanking thru the blooming sky melding sun and rain

By Akiva Peterson

By Alex Mil

By Travis Smith

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