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Versatility Upon Life's Stage.
Callista Denoyer Effingham High School
Veruca Salt, the entitled little girl from Willy Wonka who expected her every demand to be granted by a compliant world without having to lift a ﬁnger, in no way resembles the character of Callista Denoyer. And yet, on March 19, 2020, the curtain was to have gone up on the Eﬃngham High School production of Willy Wonka with the role of Veruca Salt anchored by Denoyer. In the theatre, it takes a special kind of person to so completely vacate their own substantial persona and allow another’s to take up quarters, if only for a few 2-hour performances. It takes a whole other level of character quality in a person to have worked so hard for such a role, only to have the actual performance reduced to a COVID canceled event. The moments that deﬁne a high school career have been so altered by the pandemic, but plans continue to be laid and the same kind of grit and determination that fueled Callista’s channeling of Veruca has served her well as she’s dealt with the uncertainties of life and of putting her intentions into play.
The summer before Callista’s freshman year, she was diagnosed with Grave’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that is rooted in the thyroid. She was getting sick frequently but, nevertheless, persisted. Callista attributes much of her conﬁdence to her Christian Faith and counts it as a major driver in her ability to roll positively through diﬃculty. That year, she had her thyroid removed and from there she was just oﬀ and running, what I call an academic rockstar. The fact is, she is so much more than her impressive GPA or ACT score, though they are certainly impressive. She is disciplined, passionate about her interests, loyal to her friends, and like other top students, she has created options for herself through hard work but has no interest in being pigeon-holed until she’s had a chance to explore the options a bit further.
Callista has acceptance letters in-hand from Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville but is awaiting a response from the University of Illinois before making her decision. Throughout her high school career, she’s been active in Scholar Bowl, musical theatre, and band, playing the guitar, ukulele, violin, and the French Horn. In addition to the missing performance of Veruca Salt, she also played the role of Mini in Hello Dolly and was in the ensemble in Hairspray. As someone who craves the intersection of knowledge and social engagement, ultimately, her preference is for the University of Illinois, but she’s a pragmatist. At this point, Callista doesn’t have a ﬁrm academic direction or major in mind but is considering a range of ideas from business to medical research, which is actually a very healthy approach to the college jumping-oﬀ point. No ﬁxed plan needs to accompany a college freshman. For many, like Callista, college is a place to learn as much about yourself as the world around you. Our guess is that whatever stage she ﬁnds herself upon — metaphorical or actual — it will be all the better for Callista’s presence.