ALBION — School shutting down because of COVID-19 showed Central Noble’s Valedictorian Jocelyn Winebrenner just how quickly life can be swept out from under you.

Winebrenner learned from more than just her classes her senior year.

“The way the year ended showed me that these next four years of college can be gone at any second,” Winebrenner said, “So I have to get out of it what I want to.”

Winebrenner has had the goal to become valedictorian since she was in sixth grade.

Her parents and teachers knew she had long-term goals and she said they helped her stay on track throughout her schooling.

Winebrenner said to become valedictorian, it takes determination because when you set a goal to do something, you have to want it really bad.

“They’re special teachers,” Winebrenner said, “They taught me more than just the subjects they taught.”

At school, Winebrenner was involved in almost everything. From being a three-sport athlete with soccer, basketball and softball, to serving in student government and taking park in FFA, she did it all.

Winebrenner said being involved in three different sports helped teach her time management skills.

After having to juggle sports and academics, Winebrenner said that experience will aid her when she heads off to her next level of schooling.

Winebrenner will be attending Huntington University to pursue a degree in agricultural business while playing softball. After college, she wants to be a salesperson in the agricultural field.

As for Central Noble salutatorian Emma Schroeder, the end of her senior year transitioning to online only classes showed her how much she missed the classroom.

Both of Schroeder’s parents are teachers and when school transitioned to e-learning, she got to see firsthand how much effort teachers put into teaching outside of the classroom.

“It really made me appreciate my teachers and how hard they worked.” Schroeder said, “It made me appreciate the time I had in the building with them.”

Being salutatorian was never a goal of Schroeder’s.

“I never would have expected it,” Schroeder said, “I went into high school with the attitude that I’m going to try my best.”

With COVID-19 looming over the class of 2020 and their graduation, Schroeder said being honored with salutatorian has shown her how the community comes together.

“It has shown me how much our community is excited for everybody and how much everybody’s loving each other right now.” Schroeder said.

Schroeder was involved in Central Noble’s Champions together program, a partnership between the Indiana High School Athletic Association and Special Olympics Indiana that partners student athletes with classmates with intellectual disabilities.

Being involved with the Champions Together unified track program, Schroeder found her love and possibly her future career.

“I never thought I would end up doing anything related to the Special Olympics,” Schroeder said, “But I got invited my freshman year and it took off from there.”

Unified track was one of Schroeder’s big motivators through high school. Her parents and teachers also helped push her along, specifically her freshman and sophomore year English teacher, Mrs. Sirois, who was the one who told her she should join the program.

Schroeder will pursue a degree in American Sign Language and recreational therapy at Goshen College this coming fall. After college, she wants to work with people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

“I want to help them feel included and do activities that they wouldn’t usually get to do.” Schroeder said.

Central Noble’s class of 2020 will graduate July 7 at 7 p.m. at the high school.

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