#1StudentNWI: Winter months are looking up at La Lumiere

#1StudentNWI: Winter months are looking up at La Lumiere

What’s recently happened?

Since coming back to school for the second semester, the La Lumiere Lakers (La Lu) have been busy. The La Porte Invitational had a great turnout from both students and faculty, making the games electric. Even though the Lakers didn’t get the wins the team hoped for, both games were nail-biters and came very close. 

“The student section on Saturday was super energetic, really fun, and very neon,” said Sophomore Erin Morrison. 

The La Lu nationally ranked basketball team, Varsity White, has had great success, winning both of their Hoophall Classic games against Sunrise Christian Academy and AZ Compass Prep, even under the tightest of pressures. Junior Jerry Easter was named most valuable player (MVP) of both games. Against Sunrise Christian Academy, Easter had 23 points and seven rebounds. In addition, senior Clemson recruit Ace Buckner had 19 points and six assists.

The girls varsity basketball team had its senior night on January 11 and won 51 to 13 against Victory Christian Academy. While Sophomore Adri Forker, Senior Shena Fleming, and Junior Nuala Connolly are all out with season-ending injuries, the Lakers still only let the Victory Christian Lions score an astonishing 13 points.  

After that, the Lakers won the South Shore Athletic Conference championship against Calumet Christian High School on January 23, 43-32.  

Outside of sports, the Lakers are staying busy to start the semester. With the annual ski trip to Bittersweet on January 20, the fun does not stop for the cold weather. In the winter, the campus does get pretty chilly, but Lake La Lumiere becomes beautiful. The trees glisten with ice crystals and snow on them. 

The immense amount of snow days has made for great memories around campus, with many boarding students often spending their days watching movies or participating in school-wide activities. 

What’s coming up?

As February approaches, the Lakers are getting antsy for spring break. After La Lu has President’s Day off, the school resumes class for a week and then the annual two-week Spring Break follows. 

“The international trips are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, there is nothing that compares to hanging out with all of your friends out of the country for over a week,” Junior Anne Kuehn said. 

This year, the Lakers have an optional school trip to Costa Rica. Since going to Costa Rica for the first time during the Spring Break of 2022, the biennial trip has become a phenomenon. The Lakers see an active volcano, many rainforests, and thousands of wildlife while on the trip, not including a six-night stay at a remote island. 

Basketball does not stop in February. Varsity White’s season continues with tournaments in both New Jersey and South Carolina. Varsity White is currently ranked sixth in the nation. The Lakers are scheduled to play 13 games this month, hoping to be invited to the new Nike Elite Youth Basketball League’s first annual tournament, replacing the beloved GEICO Nationals. La Lu has not won a national championship since winning in 2017, while the team came runner-up in both 2016 and 2019. The Lakers hope to bring home a win in Brownsburg, Indiana during the final tournament which will take place April 4-6. 

Staff spotlight: 

Brett Balhoff is a key member of the community at La Lu. He joined the community 14 years ago in 2010 and currently serves as the science department chair and the Varsity Girls Soccer coach. Balhoff teaches Anatomy and Physiology, Advanced Placement Psychology, and Environmental Science. 

Balhoff often brings a unique culture and perspective to his classes, opting to teach with his own curriculum instead of Advanced Placement as much as possible so he is able to use the ecosystem and the diverse campus to his advantage. 

In his Environmental Science class this past fall, students tested the pH (potential of hydrogen) levels across different areas of the diverse campus, testing different water fountains in different buildings, in a river, in Lake La Lu, and in the “corner” pond which were all accessible on the campus. The students ultimately learned what filters do to water and how drinkable the fresh spring lake on campus is. 

 During his time at La Lu, Balhoff has seen many different students come through the school and has learned their personalities both in the classroom and on the field. He aims to provide an environment where students can learn who they are and also gain something from the experience they can use later outside of the classroom. He does this through educating in the classroom on key issues happening in the world that he feels attention should be brought to, but also by allowing students to research their own interests and learn how they can bring ideas to the community to better the community. 

“La Lu is one of only a handful of places where I feel that people can be themselves and feel that they are accepted as they are.  Instead of approaching differences with a scorn or dismissive attitude, we embrace diversity and hope to understand those differences,” Balhoff said.

The perspective Balhoff brings to the classroom, and on the field is not only one of intelligence, but also care for his students and deep understanding. Balhoff not only wants you to learn and retain the information being taught in class but also take it to your life, so you can learn how you can better your community. 

When coaching girls soccer, Balhoff is the best coach one could ever ask for. He deeply cares about the team and provides them with the necessary resources to win as much as possible. Balhoff is a great team leader, mentor to many, coach, and beyond all an exciting teacher. 

Student spotlight: 

Addison Penziol is a sophomore at La Lumiere from La Porte Indiana. Penziol is a very active member of the school, playing on the Varsity Girls Basketball team. Penziol also plays for City Elite outside of school and is a point guard. She appreciates how friendly and welcoming everyone is at La Lu. 

“I chose La Lu because of the class sizes being smaller which I felt made it easier to learn, and I just overall loved the campus. It was very unique and pretty. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming,” Penziol said. 

 Penziol is an elite basketball player and leader on her team. During her freshman year, she had the opportunity to play with University of Connecticut commit, and now to play with player Ashlynn Shade. Penziol credits Shade for much of her recent high school inspiration. Shade has been named Big East Freshman of the week four times this season thus far. 

Penziol loves the teachers at La Lu and credits them for much of her success.

“The teachers and community at La Lu care about you and want you to succeed. They truly care about you,” said Penziol.

Penziol loves many La Lu traditions such as the Niles Haunted House freshman Friday trip, and the Taste of La Lumiere. Freshman Fridays are a great opportunity for only freshmen to be able to get to know each other, with on-campus activities, and off-campus activities such as Niles Scream Park in Niles, Michigan, and Zao Island in Valparaiso, Indiana. 

The other La Lu tradition that Penziol loves, the Taste of La Lumiere, is one of La Lu’s most beloved traditions and dates back to 1992. “The Taste” as it is known, is a great opportunity for students to share the food and cultural traditions from their culture. 

“I love how you get to work in a group to create some type of food that you get to share with a bunch of people. I also really like how people make food from their own country that you can try it. It allows me to taste different foods that I have never heard of before. It is very cool to see how foods and cultures differ from one another,” Penziol said.