Hannah Ploof: Student by morning, lab assistant by afternoon

Hannah Ploof: Student by morning, lab assistant by afternoon

Karisah Watkins-Martin, Staff Writer

Average high school student in the morning, lab assistant in the afternoon.

For senior Hannah Ploof, her final year at FHC will consist of her playing a role similar to Superman. From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., she seems to blend into the overcrowded hallways, backpack and laptop in hand. However, as soon as 6th hour rolls around, Ploof trades in her textbooks for a pair of safety goggles and finds herself in the room she has familiarized herself with the past 2 years: Mr. Vonehr’s classroom.

“I am basically his personal assistant,” Ploof says, “ I help him organize his google calendars, set up labs, grade papers, and just get things organized for him.”

The independent study is also unique in that it offers her a much-needed break from the textbooks and instead allows her to learn through the process of doing. While many core classes rely on skimming passages for answers, her sixth hour grants a unique hands-on experience in which she must learn through the course of trial and error. Ploof will soon be performing an experiment which involves the process of growing crystals, only one of the unique tasks that she would not be able to do in her other core classes. She will also be given the opportunity to start working with various chemicals and learning how to create different chemical solutions, a project that allows her a break from her usual studies and a chance to explore her creativity.

And while the preceding tasks rattled off above may appear rather tedious and mundane, Ploof unquestionably agrees that there is so much more to being Vonehr’s lab assistant than checking answer keys and filing papers. She was not initially drawn to the daunting paperwork, but the opportunity to work with Mr. Vonehr for yet another year. Throughout his stay at FHC, he has proved to the students that he is in fact more than just a science teacher. Ploof agrees that throughout her four years at FHC, Vonehr has assumed the role as her mentor. He has become a multi-faceted role model who has affected her immensely in and out of the classroom.

“Mr. Vonehr has impacted me in both school and out of it,” Ploof says, “He actually cares about each one of his students. Because of him I would feel confident pursuing science, and he has also inspired me to follow my dreams.”

While most seniors would ultimately prefer a lighter course load for their last year, Ploof proved that she was able to beat the “senioritis” and instead decided to assume the coveted yet demanding role of being Vonehr’s lab assistant. The challenging position didn’t scare Ploof off; it instead offered her the chance to trek down to his room for her 6th hour and feel completely at home. She seems to find comfort in rattling off equations; the convoluted scientific terms that would not make sense to the average high school student provide a safe haven for Ploof.

Just as Ploof’s audacity and tenacity prove to be one of a kind, so does the role of being Vonehr’s lab assistant. Besides grading paperwork, the independent study allows Ploof to experiment and expand her knowledge in the realm of science. The course seems to be a chameleon; it has synthesized and combined two core subjects to allow Ploof the ultimate experience. Being a lab assistant allows her to incorporate both elements of math and science into her learning and provide her with the opportunity to familiarize herself with the two topics she will most likely be studying beyond the walls of FHC.

To Ploof, Being Vonehr’s lab assistant is worth so much more than the tedious paperwork; it truly offers her the experience of a lifetime. Besides gaining both an amazing science teacher and an inspiring mentor, she has also gained a passion and a love for science, which she says she will continue to have for the rest of her life.

“This lab experience has helped me solidify my interest in [science],” Ploof says, “I’m hoping to study some chemistry in college and most likely get a minor in it. Being Vonehr’s lab assistant offers me lab experience that will ultimately help me in college and beyond it.”