Millennium grads: 2013 style


Thirteen years ago, many of Wapakoneta High School seniors graduated from their pre-school program as the class of the new millennium — including a special pair which appeared on the front page of the Wapakoneta Daily News.

Today, those two young girls, who graduated from Small World Nursery pre-school in 2000, are now young women graduating with the class of 2013. The two girls appearing in the photograph — Emilee Youngpeter and Courtney Hamel — still have a clipping of the photograph and have remained close throughout the past 13 years of their education. They are now looking forward to similar careers in the future.

Youngpeter and Hamel plan to attend the Ohio State Beauty Academy in the coming months with Youngpeter starting in July and Hamel in September. Both want to be cosmetologists. 

“I am more of an open-minded individual and I don’t think I could sit in college classes all day and the subject matter be something I am really interested in,” Youngpeter said. “I want to go into something right away, I don’t want to wait. With cosmetology, you don’t have to wait because you are learning the entire time — you are doing what professionals do.”

She admitted to being a person with little patience, struggling to even pay attention during her high school classes.

Youngpeter, who has a 23-year-old sister, said she loves to be creative when fixing and cutting people’s hair which is in sharp contrast with her sister who has a career in aerospace engineering in Cincinnati which forces her to be exact.

Youngpeter intends to move to Cincinnati after graduating in October 2014, with dreams of one day living in the South.

Hamel gained some experience helping her friends fix their hair, overcoming the challenge that she is the older sister to three brothers, Adam, 15, Alex, 11, and Anderson, 4. Her mother, Shelley Hamel, is pregnant and Hamel hopes she will soon have a younger sister.

But cosmetology was not her first career choice.

“I was going to join the military at first, but I don’t think have the guts to do it,” Hamel said. “I would love to do it still, but I don’t like the idea of leaving my family so I figured staying around her would be better.”

Her father, Brett, is the Wapakoneta Water Treatment Plant superintendent and the family lives and is involved in the Wapakoneta community. She would love to live in the South because she hates the cold and she loved the region after traveling there with her paternal grandparents, Joann and Jerry Hamel, but she realizes she will likely stay closer to her immediate family.

Their current career aspirations differ with their earlier plans. Youngpeter recalled wanting to be an attorney, inspired by the Reese Witherspoon in “Legally Blonde.” Hamel remembered always wanting to be physician, inspired by her mother, who is a nurse.

While those dreams changed, they are tied together with the photograph.

Neither can remember the photograph being taken, but they remember the newspaper and clipping being around the house through the years. They said their parents brought the newspaper clipping out as graduation parties beckon.

While they now have to rent their cap and gown for today, they instantly recalled the mortar boards made of cardboard and construction paper, the tassels made of yarn and the gowns made of a brown paper bags.

A more constant memory is their pre-school teacher, Alison Roediger, who died Sept. 21 of last year.

They recalled how she made learning fun — having dress-up days, class parties and parents coming in for show-and-tell.They remembered the little things she did.

“She was always so nice and she always went above and beyond,” Youngpeter said. “She went on a trip and brought us back these little dolphin earrings. I still have them in a box and there was a note on the back.

“I loved her and she was always so loving,” she said.

“You would go to Walmart and you would run into her and she could talk to you for hours,” Hamel said, sharing she also has the dolphin earrings hid away. “She would always remember your name and she would always give you a hug.

“She was a wonderful teacher,” she told the WDN on Thursday. “This Saturday (today) she will be watching over us as we graduate — she will be watching over a lot of kids in our class.”