Friday, June 10, 2022

Penney’s positive mindset inspires WHS Class of 2022 students

Having overcome more than a few obstacles during her time
at Windham High School, Hailey Penney is a positive
inspiration for her classmates and will graduate with other
members of the Class of 2022 on Sunday, June 12.
By Ed Pierce

If there is one common theme that connects members of the Windham High School Class of 2022, it’s positivity and Hailey Penney has more than enough positive wishes for the entire graduating class.

Like many other students in the graduating class, Penney has had to overcome a few obstacles in high school but will be on hand at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Sunday to receive her diploma. Her calm and congenial attitude has inspired both students and staff at the school who’ve overcome two years of the pandemic and associated restrictions because of the virus.  

“The teachers and school administrators have been there by my side through all my hardships and have seen my ability to focus on school and improving myself by taking big steps to better my own life,” Penney said. “A few of my closest friends said that others may not know about my strong will and perseverance when it comes to academics, work and personal challenges.”

WHS Assistant Principal Vanessa Michaud says that Penney is a standout in her graduating class because of her care for others and cheerful attitude.

Hailey has a maturity and has had some life experiences that have given her a wisdom well beyond her years.  She solely has had the drive and initiative to become independent and prepare for her next steps in her journey after high school,” Michaud said. “Hailey also challenged herself this year with a very full plate to achieve her goals taking early college courses, her courses at WHS, as well as working. “

She said Penney is one of the kindest, caring, hardworking, strong, and independent students she has had the pleasure of getting to know and she’s honest to the core. 

“When Hailey has a free moment, she can be seen around WHS checking in on staff and truly engaging in deep meaningful conversations about how they are doing and how things are going for her.  She has an ability to make someone feel like they have known her for years in a matter of seconds,” Michaud said. “Her smile and genuine personality warm the heart.  Hailey is a good friend and checks in with her peers and is always there to support and encourage them.  Hailey is not afraid to try new things, push herself outside of her comfort zone, and face new challenges.”

Michaud said Penney’s resilience and desire to learn has helped her become a promising student.

“In the beginning of her high school career, Hailey often struggled in some her core academic classes.  She would often seek out a quiet place to try to complete her assignments and struggled with some of the core academic classes,” she said. “Her Junior year, Hailey joined our APEX program and with the guidance of the teacher, Adrianne Shetenhelm, Hailey thrived in the more independent learning environment and began to excel. She started to realize her potential as a learner and as she thrived began to look for more challenging courses therefore seeking out the early college courses.  Hailey is a student who at times in her high school career seemed to have all the odds against her and she found a way to rise above and truly shine, always with that smile on her face.”

WHS Assistant Principal Phil Rossetti agrees with that assessment.

“Hailey is a student that has forged her own path. She has advocated for herself and sought every chance to improve and truly used her education as an opportunity to advance herself,” Rossetti said. “She is someone who is wise beyond her years and a joy to work with. She makes everyone around her feel better and welcomed. I/we will miss her smile and infectious positivity.”

Penney said during her time at WHS, she developed a strong bond with social worker Caj Macdonald.

“She has helped me through so many things that I thought I would never be able to make it out of and I’m very grateful for that,” Penney said.

Her favorite class in high school was any of Joe McLaughlin’s art classes but says they were also the most challenging classes for her too.

“I thrived in the environment, and he taught me patience and drive,” she said. “They may have been my favorite but there were many times of frustration when my painting just didn’t look how I imagined. The challenge is what I loved most about art.”

She’s dealt with personal issues in her family while in high school that would have severely impacted other students but kept a positive mindset and says it made her more resilient.

“I knew that getting my diploma was important,” Penney said.

Besides focusing on academics, Penney says she enjoys spending time with my friends, dirt biking, hiking, and many other outdoor activities in her free time. 

Her immediate plan after graduation is to start a new job.

“I just got a conditional offer at the prison in Windham to be a corrections officer,” she said. “I will be starting there after I receive my diploma and go through other steps.” 

Penney says that she’ll cherish and remember fondly the past few months of her senior year.

“The most memorable part of high school for me would be these last moments with prom, marching practice, senior activities and saying goodbye to everyone,” she said. “It’s true when they say you won’t know you miss it until it’s gone. However, I’m excited to take the next step in life.” <

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