Ellsworth senior avoiding regrets, inspiring others in high school after losing peer
Jenica Giese could have been described as a shy turtle in her shell, living life within a bubble, before she got involved at Ellsworth High School.
Now, as a graduating senior, Giese is aspiring to be a source of inspiration for students coming into high school and those journeying through their high school career.
"I've always been the person to just hide behind the scenes and not make many waves," Giese said. "When I actually got involved, I figured out I really enjoyed doing it and it's made a really huge impact on my life. Even if it's kind of out of your comfort zone, do it."
Giese's list of extracurriculars may seem daunting to some students her age: Tennis, forensics, Badger Girls State, yearbook staff, drama department, trap shooting team, a mentor and an actress for community theater, to name a few organizations and activities.
But for Giese, being a part of something outside of schoolwork was an excuse to help out.
"I'm trying to help wherever I can," she said humbly. "I love to help out and get involved in things and it's helped me get out of my shell a little bit."
Her motivation for connecting with people and organizations was fueled when she lost a friend and peer, Kyra Hayes, in 2016.
The 16-year-old Ellsworth student died while wearing her seatbelt after being struck by another motorist who was using a cell phone.
Hayes was a part of Giese's forensics program. Giese was with Hayes the afternoon she died, working the sound and the light booth at school.
"She braided my hair and I gave her a hug and we were making fun of her brother, typical sibling behavior," Giese recalled solemnly.
Although the two had a friendship, Giese said she wishes she had made more memories and taken pictures with Hayes for remembrance.
In response to her and the school's loss, Giese became involved in the yearbook staff and was determined to take everyone's pictures and collect information to be published.
"I take way too many pictures. I always hold that thought in my head that the day will come when pictures are all you'll have left. I'm just trying to make something to have to look back on," Giese said.
While Giese enjoys her time with the yearbook design and publication, she has always loved English and writing. Her ability to master the language has allowed her to help pen the school's spring play and enroll in challenging English courses in high school.
Giese's creativity and information-seeking skills she acquired in high school will be put to good use as she pursues a degree in journalism at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater after graduation.
"I've always loved to write and take pictures. I want to be that neutral source when it comes to the news and events that people can turn to and rely on because I personally am getting frustrated with all this biased stuff that I read online," Giese said.
As her time ends at Ellsworth High School, Giese said since she has gotten out of her shell, she hopes she has made a difference even in just one student's life.
"Go out of your way and just do something new or talk to someone you wouldn't normally talk to. Try and make as many new memories and have as many new experiences as possible because you never know when the day will come when you'll regret not being more active and being more involved and not helping or being there as much as you should have."