This is an installment in a five-part series highlighting a graduating senior from each of Marion County’s public school districts.
“I actually did fly an airplane before I ever drove a car,” Elgin valedictorian Isaiah Wasserbeck said.
Ever since, Wasserbeck has known he wanted to be a pilot.
The graduating senior will now pursue his degree from Bowling Green State University in Aviation, specializing in Flight Technology and Operations. He will also participate in the school’s Air Force ROTC program.
His interest in all things flight started at an early age because his father, Carson Wasserbeck, was in the Air Force.
“I was always a little bit interested in aviation stuff with my dad being in the Air Force, and then we got to go see the Dayton Air Show, and it’s just an awesome experience to go see that,” he explained.
He then got to attend a week-long summer camp called Air Camp which was hosted by Wright State University, where he got to learn about aviation in a more in-depth way. It was there that he got to fly a plane for the first time.
“At the end of the week, you actually get to go up and fly a plane. So there’s an instructor and you go up, and I flew a plane around, and it’s just such an awesome experience. I’m like, ‘This is what I want to do,'” he said.
Those in his life will tell you that he is gifted at everything he does: from emceeing all Elgin events to winning the annual academic award for the top student in every department: math, English, history and science.
Lighting up while talking about his favorite courses, including the district’s strong biology program, Wasserbeck’s love of learning shines through.
“I took biology my freshman year, and then was able to do honors bio and then wildlife bio,” he said of Elgin’s biology programming.
“There’s a pound. We have a wetland. We have a plains, and we have access to all of the Big Island wildlife area, so we’ll go out and go birding. It’s a great experience to get to learn about the world around you.”
Beyond academics, Wasserbeck is the student council president, a member of the marching band, pep band and show choir, a participant in Elgin’s scholastic challenge team and a part of Marion County’s Teen Institute, a group through Marion-Crawford Prevention Programs that encourages teens to live a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle.
Student Council Advisor Kristi Brown said she has enjoyed watching him grow from a shy freshman to a senior that the younger students admire.
“In the classroom, he’s a leader, obviously. He always helps the other kids around him. He’s very willing to give up his time to help others and make sure they understand the material just as well as he does. He’s also a very likeable kid. Obviously, he’s student council president, and a lot of the kids around here look up to him,” Brown said.
“He’s just going to be really missed around here.”
She noted he has wanted to be a pilot “forever” and she knows he will achieve it someday.
Atop his plans to purse Air Force ROTC in college, Wasserbeck will march for Bowling Green’s marching band and participate in the men’s chorus – continuing his love for music, which has been his favorite part of his Elgin experience.
“My first year of marching band – I got to do it with both of my older brothers, so it’s just such a great experience and I get to take it into college too, to keep going with it,” he said.
Elgin’s band director, Lance Schwartz, has been a close friend of the Wasserbeck family for many years. He’s also Isaiah’s godfather.
“We were going to church together long before he was in band,” Schwartz said.
Having known Wasserbeck since he was in elementary school, Schwartz noted that he is proud to see the leader the young man has become and he looks forward to traveling to Bowling Green to watch Isaiah march in college.
“He has a great heart. He really cares about others. I think he’s got the great makings of a leader if that’s something he ever decides to pursue, in whatever capacity I don’t know. I just think he really cares about people. He leads by uplifting people instead of some people that lead by being bossy – that’s certainly not him,” Schwartz explained.
Now on the cusp of achieving the dreams he has looked forward to accomplishing for many years, for Wasserbeck, the sky is the limit.
“Five years from now I see myself in the Air Force as a Second Lieutenant, hopefully in piloting school to fly airplanes,” he concluded.
Story by: Sophia Veneziano (740) 564 – 5243 | firstname.lastname@example.org