New Friends, Familiar Faces

Getting to Know…


Madi Hermeyer

SIMPLY SMILING: Sophomore Clinton Payne sits cross-cross on a soccer goal gazing up with the sky at a smile. He finds solace in the outdoors, always looking for an opportunity to bask in the sun.

Clinton Payne

Sophomore Clinton Payne, like most kids, loves going outside. When he is in his Adaptive PE class, you can count on him being outside on the track on nice warm days. He will skip, run, walk around, enjoying the nice weather and the warmth the sun shines on his skin. While he can’t be outside every day, he does prefer being active outside over inside. Sometimes he will sit, and look up and just watch the clouds float over him while feeling the sun’s rays on his face. If Payne had the choice he would be outside, all day, every day.

One of Payne’s favorite classes is art, where he can show his interest in metals and cities. His explanation for his affinity of said subjects was very to the point. “Cities are cool,” Payne said. Payne likes to visit St. Louis and go to architectural structures like the Arch. He has visited the old main street of Memphis and will share how much he liked walking around. Payne will walk around a city with his family, marvel at the great feats of architecture, and dive into the history each brick has, another subject he excels in.

Payne is known for his love for history, and his remarkable memory of events. Many students may see him stroll into Mrs. Lisa Niswonger’s history class to deliver mail and notice him taking a detour to carefully read and study the history posters that cover the concrete walls of the class. When he comes across common items like VCRs he wants to learn everything about it from the inventor to the history of how the technology has progressed.

However, what many do not know is, when asked, Payne will share that his love for history is rooted in a bond with his younger brother.

“Cody, he’s my brother,” Payne said “He likes the Titanic.”

Payne’s interest in history parallels his brother’s interest in the Titanic and they often converse about this topic. This is one of many ways that Payne can connect with his brother beyond Minecraft.

Payne’s loves are a reflection of ways he can connect with his family. His love for history creates a connection between him and his brother, Cody. His outings with his family include the parks and the outdoors, so he can spend quality time with those he loves in an environment he feels comfortable in. Outings with his family inspire his interest in cities such as Memphis and St. Louis. These interests are how Payne connects with others and ways he can create new connections.

Ella Hellebusch

DANCING TO HER OWN BEAT: Ella Hellebusch showing off her moves during Adaptive PE. Hellebusch loves performative arts such as singing, dance, and especially cheer. (Madi Hermeyer)


Freshman Ella Hellebusch walks apathetically down the school hallway headed to her next class when she spots one of her favorite people in the world, senior Morgan Corbitt, walking in her direction. A gigantic smile breaks across her face as she bounds up to Corbitt and embraces her tightly, happy to see her friend.

Hellebusch and Corbitt spend seventh hour together in Hellebusch’s adaptive PE class. During this hour one can find Hellebusch partaking in some of her favorite activities: cheer, dance, and singing. Oftentimes Corbitt, a cheerleader herself, will spend time practicing skills with her in the multipurpose room. She sometimes dreams of being on the school’s cheerleading team, sharing her bright smile and contagious joy with the rest of the student body.

“[Ella] shows me how to be myself… I feel like I can be authentic around her,” Corbitt said. “She’s so easy to talk to, like you can say anything and she’ll just laugh about it… we just connected on so many levels.”

Hellebusch is a lover of performance, with her affinity for cheer and dance, as well as her love of music and singing. She’s in treble choir with Mrs. Baird and loves performing for others and even just for herself. Sometimes getting back into the routine of school every Monday is tough, so she uses her music as a means of comfort. She’ll put on her headphones, turn on a playlist, and escape from the rest of the world to focus on her own world where there’s an audience to be performing to.

Her list of things she enjoys most about school is short but very defining of who she is.

“I have Morgan [Corbitt]… and my choir class,” Hellebusch said.

Hellebusch’s bubbly spirit is often held back by her shyness towards new people, but once she gets comfortable with someone her personality shines through. She’s sassy and loves to show off her dance moves, she’s not afraid to tell you off if she catches you talking to her “boy-girlfriend” as she likes to call her special someone, and when you hug her if she’s sad she hugs tight and doesn’t want to let go. Her verbal skills aren’t perfect, she has to repeat what she’s saying quite a bit to get her point across, but she never fails to make those around her excited to spend even more time with her.

Caleb Wynn

ARCHITECT AND ARTIST: Caleb Wynn carefully drawing a house with precision. One of Caleb’s favorite things to do is draw houses. (Maya Culian)

Senior Caleb Wynn is someone who is easy to talk to. Every conversation will start with a bright hello and a “how are you”. He will say “I am doing great”, and as the conversation ends he will say, “it was nice talking to you.” Everything about Wynn is welcoming, and he is always ready to put a smile on someone’s face.

Wynn is known for his impeccable handwriting. Wynn has been practicing for years, and as a result, he can write letters as if they were printed off a machine. His fine motor skills allow him to draw letters with
unmatched precision. This skill is always something that amazes those around him, and his love of writing allows him to show these skills off. During any free time Caleb will write the credit lines for the tv show “Baby Einsteins,” lines he knows by heart.

“I like to watch Baby Einsteins,” Wynn said.

But, more so than writing, Wynn especially loves drawing. It is clear from his penmanship, that his artistic ability can rise above the alphabet. He likes to draw houses because they are “awesome” to him, and one of his favorite houses is the one where he lives. The one where he spends time with his family. The one that’s backyard he and his brother will play tag in. For Wynn, that is “awesome”.

In the future, Wynn would like to use his artistic ability to become an artist in the future. But, he also loves school, he doesn’t care about waking up early. Wynn wants to come to school every day and sometimes expresses that he doesn’t want to graduate. However, Wynn has also expressed he is not worried about the future and feels sure that things will be okay, which is a reflection of how our special education system can both create a positive environment for students and prepare them to leave high school ready to take on the world.