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Nonnewaug freshman Morgan Willis opens ChatGPT on her Chromebook.
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Katie Savulak '26, Reporter • April 16, 2024
Nonnewaug senior Kylieann Craine disposes food in the school cafeteria trash can.
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The sun sets during spring break in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 17, 2022.
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Katie Savulak '26, Reporter • April 12, 2024
Nonnewaug freshman baseball player Ashton Elsemore bats during an April 8 game against Shepaug. Elsemore and most baseball players do not travel for spring break because the team has games and practices that week. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)
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Ava Hirleman '27, Reporter • April 12, 2024
A puddle surrounds second base on Nonnewaugs baseball field earlier this month. Rainy weather has negatively impacted the start of the spring sports season. (Kyle Brennan)
Persistent Rain Puts Damper on Start of Spring Sports (VIDEO)
Izzy DiNunzio '24, Editor-in-Chief • April 12, 2024
Kelly Farrell, a junior tennis player at Nonnewaug, prepares before a match against Wamogo on April 1. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)
Hirleman: Championship Past in Girls Tennis Produces Positive Pressure
Ava Hirleman '27, Reporter • April 12, 2024
Freshman Elliana Obolewicz runs during a track meet last week. (Courtesy of NHS Track and Field/Instagram)
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NHS Greenhouse Plant Production, a UConn ECE course, taught by NHS faculty member Eric Birkenberger, has been busy cultivating an array of plantings in preparation for its public plant sale on May 11th.
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Kylieann Craine '24, Reporter • April 12, 2024
From right to left; Kaylee Jackson, Arabella Rosa, Christopher Pelletier, Lana Manganello, and Karisa Cizauskas setting up their new saltwater aquariums and learning how to control their coral lighting.
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Kylie Healey '24, Reporter • April 12, 2024
NHS Dramas production of Once Upon a Mattress runs April 11-13 in the NHS auditorium. (Conor Gereg)
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Gianna Lodice '24 and Layla Coppola '24April 11, 2024

Yocis an Element Chemically Inseparable from Nonnewaug

Mallory Sciaraffa
Kathleen Yocis smiles after teaching Period 7 chemistry. She lets students stay after class to finish and get help with work. Before dismissal, she laughs and talks with students, answering any difficult questions they have.

“Jobs fill your pockets; adventures fill your soul.” — Jaime Lyn Beatty, American actress, singer, writer, producer and performer

WOODBURY — People often worry about living a full life. Career pursuits and home life clash, and many people fear that they will not accomplish as much as they can in life due to the constant tug and pull.

For some, navigating this tightrope isn’t just something they can accomplish, but for Kathleen Yocis, it’s something she’s mastered.

From working all over Europe, doing environmental-based work, and picking up aerobics and jogging in her spare time, Yocis’ past was filled with adventure. At first, her plan didn’t involve teaching, but students and staff are thrilled she ended up at Nonnewaug High School.

“She’s exceptionally enthusiastic and organized. She brings real-world knowledge to teaching chemistry because she worked in the field,” says Toby Denman, a science instructor who began working at Nonnewaug several years before Yocis. “She does a good job at helping students understand why certain concepts exist and why they’re important.”

Starting college, Yocis was a biology major hoping to become a dentist. But then Yocis opted against remaining in school for an additional eight years, ironic to her current job. After getting experience working for LGB Chemicals Group, she realized chemistry was a better fit for her.

Even during her lunches with Melissa Hodges, Kathleen Yocis organizes graded and ungraded papers. Everyone has something good to say about her organizational skills and how her constant working pays off. (Mallory Sciaraffa)

“I was better at chemistry than I was at biology,” says Yocis. “I was just better at puzzles, the math [of it], than the memorization. Biology is mostly memorization.”

She ended her college years as a chemistry major with a double minor in biology and mathematics. But amid all of Yocis’ studies, she realized that one area of interest was especially captivating: the environment.

“By the end of college, I was really interested in the environment, so I went into environmental work for a while,” Yocis said.

This is where she really dove into chemistry, being launched all over the world for her job. She visited different countries for weeks at a time working as a chemist, pulling her away from her home and family. Becoming a teacher was one way she managed a balanced life.

“It got to be too much, the travel and all that,” says Yocis. “I loved my job, but I figured I’d try something that would give me a better work-life balance.”

Yocis’ desire to blend both a career and a family led her to a career in education, where she no longer had the burden of distance traveling commitments. After reconsidering a career in the medical field, she landed on teaching high school chemistry.

“I wouldn’t have been a good teacher if I had been a teacher right out of college. I decided to become a teacher after I had kids,” Yocis says. “Then I did a lot more with kids; I was doing volunteering programs and stuff like that.”

Students and teachers love to have her in school. Teachers admire her work ethic and teaching style.

“She’s very no-nonsense,” physics teacher William Pease noted, thinking of the time he used to work with Yocis when she taught physical science with him.

Melissa Hodges, the other chemistry instructor at Nonnewaug, met Yocis after working at the school for two years. Now, they are longtime friends. She admires Yocis’ efficiency as a teacher and her personality.

“She’s very similar to me, thankfully. We’re both kind of nerds,” Hodges said. “She’s very organized, she’s a very efficient grader, and she’s very [clear] in what she wants the kids to do.”

Their professional relationship has turned into a personal one, too.

“We eat lunch together every day, and that is where we plan our chemistry fun times,” Hodges says. “She’s actually babysitting my kids on Saturday while I go to a concert. She’s probably my work bestie.”

Yocis’ colleagues aren’t the only people who have good things to say about her. Students look up to her and admire how she helps students cope with difficult subjects.

“With chemistry students, she lets them come in during other classes to work on missing assignments and tests they need to make up,” says Kayleigh Gingras, a student in Yocis’ forensics class. “She’s very fast about grading our stuff. She’s really good. She’s nice and treats us all with respect.”

Yocis was voted fastest grader for the 2023-24 yearbook by the students, showing how hard she works to get assignments handed back to students. Her assignments are marked with corrections and notes to help her students better understand what they’re learning.

“If [students] are interested in chemistry,” Denman says, “she’ll help point them in the direction of things that might interest them.”

About the Contributor
Mallory Sciaraffa
Mallory Sciaraffa, Reporter
Mallory Sciaraffa is a senior at Nonnewaug. She is in the agriculture program, and this is her first year in journalism. When she graduates she hopes to go into a forestry field or entomology. Mallory spends her free time reading comics and watching movies. She is treasurer of the Seymour Leos Club, where she loves to help her town with her friends.
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