Katie Wheeler emerges as number one on the field, stage, and classroom

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Katie takes the stage as a soloist in the Johnson Ferry youth choir. Pitch perfect! (Credit: Johnson Ferry student music Instagram)

Krysta Schwab, Staff Writer

Many high schoolers feel immense amounts of pressure to maintain a healthy school-life balance. Whether an individual is considering attending college after high school or not, students must manage rigorous courses, jobs, extracurriculars, and social activities.  

Do-it-all senior Katie Wheeler exemplifies the definition of a well-rounded high school student. Katie has attended Rowell High School for all four years of high school and previously attended Crabapple Middle School and Mountain Park Elementary. As the first chair cellist in the Philharmonic Orchestra, a soloist in her church’s youth choir, a football trainer, a dual enrollment student, and more, Katie has taken on the challenge of balancing extracurriculars that are all but simple and easy to get by. At RHS, there are many opportunities for extracurriculars that can begin in middle school, for example, band, chorus, or orchestra. Additionally, RHS -as well as many other public schools in the area -offers dual enrollment: a program in which a student in their junior or senior year of high school can take college courses for free to earn college credit. For more on dual enrollment, check out Rachel’s article here.  

The Sting offers more information from Katie herself on how she manages all her activities and her thoughts behind it.  

Friday night games are always running smoothly with Katie’s assistance!
(Credit: Katie Wheeler)

Sting: How did you get into each of your activities and what do your roles entail?  

Katie: For training, my dad brought me to a varsity football practice one day before freshman year and I hung out with all the trainers that were working that day. I realized I wanted to do that in high school. This season, I was certified to wrap wrists, thumbs, knees, and shoulders. I had to learn CPR and go to multiple practices each week and the varsity game each Friday. In my student choir at church, that’s just something you do when you grow up at Johnson Ferry, everyone is involved in some sort of music program throughout the church, by choice, and it’s just something that you do. As some kids got older, they would drop out or stop going to rehearsals, but I chose to stay and eventually audition for an “ensemble” that does more acapella work. I go to at least one rehearsal each week and work with high schoolers and sometimes other adult singers to prepare for some Sundays and concerts that we run periodically. I dual enroll at Kennesaw State University, since that was an option to take some of my credits at a college. I take an English class and a science class and am required to do all the same work and am held to the same expectation as any other college kid with a high school diploma.  

S: Which activity is the most time consuming and why?  

K: Training takes up most of my time because I have to go to three days of football, two being practices which I have to set up for and break down every day, adding extra time to when I can leave. I would be at practice for around three and a half hours on a typical day and on Friday we have to stay right after school and not leave until the game is over. It’s a big commitment. 

S: How do you manage your classes on top of all the extra activities?  

K: It’s really hard to find time for myself with all that I have going on. My schoolwork is my priority so everything school related comes first. KSU is just as important as my Roswell classes. If my grades start to slip, I have to pull back on how much time and effort I put into other things and redirect my attention to my work. 

S: Did you know entering high school that you would be doing all of this? 

K: Everyone always tells you to join clubs or social groups and I always thought that was for the nerds or it was a lame thing to do. Little did I know it would lead to some of the best times of my high school career. 

S: Which of these activities has brought you the most joy?  

K: Football has definitely been my favorite. I love watching the sport and being involved in the game and the environment of athletes. I have also met some of my best friends who I would have never known if it weren’t for football season and seeing these people almost every day in a different environment than classes. 

S: What does a typical day look like for you with all these activities?  

K: Well, school always comes first so I get all my work done and then I get to leave school at 12:30 p.m. since I don’t have a fourth or fifth period. If it were a football day, I would get to go home and get food or do some homework and then head back out to football until around 6:30 p.m. If it were a KSU day, I would have to go straight to Kennesaw once I got out of class in order to get to class on time. I go through my English and science classes, and then I go home to finish off my homework and prepare for the next day. 

S: Do you think this has made your high school experience more enjoyable or not? Why?  

K: I definitely enjoyed high school so much more than I would if I wasn’t in any of these programs. I met people that are out of my circle that I wouldn’t generally talk to on a daily basis about things like this and some of these people are my best friends and I wouldn’t miss out on the world. I just think that they brought flavor to my high school career so that I was focused on more than just academics.