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|Itasca School District 10 > Peacock Middle School > The Charger
By Jessica L.
Phones started ringing in Itasca. Many of Liz's former teachers and classmates as well as her neighbors were excited to see her on TV. They were even happier to see her doing so well.
Liz has been in gymnastics since she was three. The vault is her best event, but her favorite event has always been floor the exercise because she loves to dance.
As a member of the national team for one year, Liz has participated in international championships and high-level competitions. She said that it has been an incredible experience.
Liz has met the other gymnasts who compete in world championships and in the Olympics.
"All of the other gymnasts are very nice girls," said Liz. "It's hard to see that when you are watching on TV, but I've gotten to know them and have gone to camps and on trips with them." Of course, she admitted, they can all be very competitive too.
Liz noted that being on TV was a bonus, because she already had a lot of her friends and family in the stands cheering. "It was really exciting."
Injuries are one of the risks in the sport of gymnastics. Liz said that she tries not to think about getting hurt while she is competing. That is something that she tries to push far from her mind.
On August 14, 2002, Liz flew to Mexico to represent the United States in an exhibition. There were gymnasts from other countries, including Russia and Italy. Liz was the only American asked to participate. "It was quite an honor," she said.
Liz trains five hours a day, six days a week and sometimes a little extra, but for the most part about thirty hours each week.
Liz said that she tried to push through the hard times by keeping her ultimate goal in mind.
Even with all of her training, Liz still goes to school like every other junior at Lake Park High School. However, since her last period is study hall, she does get to skip that and leave early for practice.
In the little spare time that she does have, Liz enjoys hanging out with her friends and visiting the mall or seeing movies.
"You start progressing," she explained, "and you start to realize that maybe you should try for something like that. The Olympics are definitely one of my goals now."
When asked for some advice for Peacock students, Liz said, "Never give up. Always have your goals in mind. Don't let anything hold you back. If there's something you want, there's no reason why anyone should bring you down from it. Always do what you want to do."
After a survey, they came to the conclusion that the park district needed more space for the fitness area and a room for teens and senior citizens.
Mr. Randy Schawel, the executive director of the construction explained that "the new areas will include a state of the art fitness center on the second floor, preschool and babysitting rooms, and a lobby and offices.
In addition, the old fitness room will be renovated into "The Lounge," an area for senior citizens during the day and for teens after school.
The Lounge will also be used for some special events and parties.
The Lounge will include computers, a big screen TV, a kitchen, game tables, and a pool table. Passes for The Lounge will be about $50 per year.
The construction and remodeling had a minimal effect on the usage of the park district over the summer. The preschool and Iris rooms were closed down but they were able to find areas to re-locate those classes.
When asked if the construction was on time for a January 2003 opening, Mr. Schawel replied that the construction was actually ahead of schedule, and the park district would probably be ready to open in the beginning of November.
When interviewed, Ms. Okon explained that she didn not have Spanish classes when she was in middle school, but that she did enjoy Spanish when she was in high school.
Ms. Okon attended Augustana College, where she majored in Spanish education. Her previous job was student teaching. She taught a class full time for fourteen weeks.
Ms. Okon commented that she wanted to teach at Peacock because she enjoyed teaching the middle school age.
She added that she really liked Itasca's small community atmosphere.
Some of Ms. Okon's hobbies are softball, biking, ceramics and being at the beach. She also enjoys a lot of other outdoor activities.
Ms. Okon listens to a variety of music, but she mostly likes Latino and country music.
The last book that she read was in Spanish, and it was written by Isabella Allende.
Students will no doubt appreciate the following note: Ms. Okon stated that she is planning to give only a moderate amount of homework.
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