Stools are useful for helping people get to higher places and reach what they could not before. MCHS’s community has students, staff and parents who have helped others reach new heights in a similar way by stepping up during unprecedented times. (Kyla Henige)
Stools are useful for helping people get to higher places and reach what they could not before. MCHS’s community has students, staff and parents who have helped others reach new heights in a similar way by stepping up during unprecedented times.

Kyla Henige

Stepping up

During a pandemic, with the absence of staff, many students, staff members, and parents have stepped up and taken on challenges to make sure school runs smoothly

March 4, 2022

Ty Linker

Many students have taken on different roles to help school run smoothly, but also to help the community. One of these students is senior Ty Linker. 

Linker believes in standing up for others and shows his leadership through his actions. “If I see someone in the school degrading others, ‘acting a fool’ in the bathrooms, or using foul language, I assert myself over them by talking to them, and I say, ‘Hey, you’re lucky I’m not a teacher or there would be disciplinary action.”

Senior Ty Linker poses with a stool in the Upper Campus hallway after stepping up as a student leader during a difficult school year. (Kyla Henige)

Part of why students and teachers appreciate Linker is because of his laid back attitude. In a informal freshman class poll, 87% of students said they respect him because he is laid back, but is still stern. 

Linker partakes in Leadership in Action, a class that builds leadership skills to use both in school and the outside world. John Lunkenheimer, who teaches the class, has seen Linker step up and be a leader.

“Ty Linker has grown as a leader and young man throughout this school year. Ty is a unique individual who has his own way of doing things, but he genuinely cares. He may be unorthodox but that is what helps him make an impact.”

Besides school, Linker is active in his community. He has enlisted in the Marines and coaches youth football. Linker reads a variety of leadership books, and uses the lessons in them to teach his players. 

“I gave [my football players] a leadership book, where the author preaches leadership, so that they have a form of guidance to be leaders, even when I am not physically present.” 

Like many other MCHS students, Linker is also inspired by principal Dr. Jeff Prickett. “I look at people like Dr. P, and I want to contribute as much as possible, even in my corner of the world, so I can at least make my corner of the world a better place. So that’s why I look up to Prickett.”

Linker’s attitude and actions have inspired and touched many students and teachers, and he hopes to leave a lasting legacy. 

Shaniah Duff

When former social studies teacher Natalie Murphy stepped down from her position last semester, a spot opened, and a teacher was needed to fill the teaching position. The teacher that filled that position as Shaniah Duff. 

Duff is a social studies teacher and teaches electives such as Sociology. Taking on multiple classes can be hard for new teachers, especially when they come half way through a school year.

Social studies teacher Shaniah Duff poses with a stool in the Upper Campus cafeteria after stepping up when another staff member left her position. (Kyla Henige)

“The most difficult part about jumping into this position halfway through the year was that I had to teach three new classes that I had never taught before,” explains Duff, “and I only had two weeks to figure out a curriculum, assignments, assessments, the syllabus, and everything else for the semester.” 

Duff has been an active member of the Army National Guard for eight years now, and although her primary job in the Guard is to be a medic, Duff has always known that she wanted to be a teacher.

“I actually knew I wanted to be a teacher before I joined the Army,” she says. “I joined the Army for a lot of reasons, but really what I wanted to do was give back…] I always knew I wanted to help people and give back to the community, which I knew I could do through both the military and being a teacher.”

From all her experiences, both growing up, and in the Gaurd, Duff has become an excellent leader, and shows her leadership through equality, and dedication.

“I’m always willing to put in the extra time, so I get here early everyday,” Duff says, “and I stay here late everyday, just because I have things to do, and I want to get them done. And to be honest if I don’t get it done here, I’m not going to get it done at home.”

“On top of that,” she chuckles, “I try and hold everyone to the same standards, and I try not to show favoritism, and I try to be very understanding, and I think that is really important in leadership.”

Tracy Tobin

Due to the recent resignation of band director Alyssa Arkin, substitute and parent Tracy Tobin helped to direct the band and continuously lead them to success. When Tobin heard the band needed a director, she stepped up immediately

Tobin has had two kids in the band program, so she knew the kids needed a leader who had experience with getting things done and staying on top of things. “I have been involved in the band program for seven years,” she says, “so I kind of know how things run, and I wanted to jump in to make sure everything that needed to be done got done.”

Parent Tracy Tobin poses with a stool in the Upper Campus hallway after stepping up as a fill-in band director when the previous teacher left her position. (Kyla Henige)

Tobin explains that she not only stepped up because they needed a substitute, but because band and is very important for the school. “I didn’t want the kids to lose hope in the program,” she says, “and what it has the potential to be. So ultimately, I wanted to be there to help guide the kids and give them hope that the band program would continue to grow and thrive.”

“Mrs. Tobin stepping up as a substitute served as a [much]-needed reminder that the entire community has our back,” explains senior Kristina Robinson. 

Oftentimes, arts programs are perceived as only being by the director-run. That can be true sometimes, but there is generally an extensive support system that does a lot of “behind the scenes” work. “Mrs. Tobin was and still is an integral part of this,” Robinson adds. “She stepped in at the beginning of last semester and was really the glue that held things together for a while. We are all so grateful to have her here, and we honestly would not be the same without her.”

Through her leadership in the band — and with help from students and other subs — there were still rehearsals, and students became even more in love with band, seeing that they came together. The overall take away from Tobin’s experience, was to inspire others to be leaders. 

“I would like the take away to be — get involved when you can!” Tobin concludes. “Help when you can!  Use your actions to let other people know they are important!”

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About the Contributor
Photo of Kyla Henige
Kyla Henige, Features Editor
Kyla Henige is a senior at McHenry High School's Upper Campus. She has been a part of the Messenger staff since her freshman year, and takes pride in her writing. Kyla is involved in Key Club, StuCo, LIA, soccer, and theater. She intends on joining the National Guard and going to college to study political science and journalism. Kyla is very excited to see even more growth in the newspaper this year, and can't wait to finish what she started.


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