Panorama Community Schools

Chris Webner » 2013 Alumni Panel Discussion

2013 Alumni Panel Discussion

November 27, 2013

Panorama High School Alumni Presenters encourage students to contact them with follow up questions related to choosing a college, choosing a college major, paying for college, and thinking about how to prepare for college during high school.  Here are our presenters’ email (and several panelists encouraged students to contact them through Facebook) -

  • Sophia Godfrey; (communications)
  • Cameron Weidenthaler; (attended Upper Iowa University, sports media, now employed by Wayne College sports department in Detroit, Michigan)
  • Daniel Nelson; (student and now employed in admissions office by Central  College, Pella, Iowa, with plans to attend graduate college for dentistry)
  • Morgan Woodvine; (advertising)
  • Rachel Grolmus, (pharmacy)
  • Hanna Moulds; (broadcasting)
  • Molly Nelson; (theater production)

Key points emphasized by alumni to Panorama High School Students during recent visit -

  • Going to college with an undecided major is encouraged (unless you are highly confident about the career path you intend to follow), because colleges offer, sometimes require, undecided freshmen students to have experiences and review resources that will assist their selection of a major/minor (career counselors, academic advisers, guest speakers, exploratory courses, etc.).
  • Social popularity is not as important as it seems during high school – it is more important to develop friendships with those around you regardless of their,  or your, “popularity”.
  • Taking the most difficult courses in high school is best way to develop study habits that can help you develop the strategies that can help you be successful at college (coming late to school or leaving early are tempting ways to make HS easy, but not best use of your HS days).
  • Taking free college courses in required college course areas was highly encouraged to help status when at college – as the number of college credits you have determines what rank you have in getting college courses during scheduling, also helps you to focus more on courses most interesting to you when later at college.
  • Develop discipline to complete tasks and learn to organize daily activities using a daily planner, note card lists, or mobile ap while in high school – doing this will help you prepare for busy schedule while at college (college assignments simply take much more time to complete and the day is much less structured than during high school – no teachers telling you to get work submitted at college).
  • Living on a college campus in the dorms is highly encouraged as a college freshman in order to meet people, develop friendships, and make transition to college life easier.
  • Visiting different college campuses while in high school is highly encouraged (large regent university, community college, and smaller private) because they all have a different feel, and their own positives and negatives for each individual.  Students are encouraged to jot down some impressions they have of each campus to help them sort out decision making later.  Taking advantage of the summer Iowa Private College Tour (see website) was also helpful for several of the panelists before their senior year of high school.
  • Accepting financial aid in the form of Work Study is highly encouraged, meaning government money is used to hire college students to work part-time while in college. This option is especially effective when the work is in an area of the student’s interest (examples shared by panel were consistent with their career aspirations).

Background on this event

Sophia Godfrey contacted the Panorama HS guidance office in the fall of 2013 to set up a typical college visit with upper classmen interested in UNI themselves (she wanted to share how wonderful her experience at UNI had been to her old high school).  Sophia agreed to broaden the scope of her visit to include inviting fellow alumni to join her with an event for the entire Panorama high school student body.   Sophia reached out to Panorama alumni whom she knew would represent a broad range of college experiences and found several alumni who wanted to share life lessons they had accumulated during their transition from high school to college.  Questions were created by the high school students with the assistance of their literacy teachers in preparation for the panel. Panorama staff members were also encouraged to share the event with their children, further supplementing the panel.  Panorama seniors Ethan Laughery and Nathan Block served as co-masters of ceremonies for the event under the direction of Mrs.  Grett (English teacher and Speech coach).  Photos of the alumni from their Panorama HS days were supplied by Mr. Nelson (Art teacher) and were projected on stage as each panelist spoke to the student body and staff.

Mr. Webner thanks the alumni panel whose care and sincerity towards our students were obvious during this event, staff who helped prepare our students for the event, and to the student body for being good listeners who made our alumni guests feel appreciated.