HAZEL GREEN, Wisconsin. – Over the past four years, Victoria Rouse has found her place in the music department at Southwestern High School.
“It was like a house where you could go to school,” she says.
Her teachers say Rouse was instrumental in welcoming new students to the home she found.
“It’s really important for (the younger students) to really have a mentor and a place to feel like they belong, and that’s what Victoria did,” said Erin Feldman, Southwestern group teacher. “She really helped make this place a place where kids want to be, where they feel safe and where they feel like they have a family.”
Rouse, 18, is one of 40 students graduating from the Southwest this Sunday. In addition to playing the flute in the band, she took part in choir and school musicals and joined the forensic team in her freshman year after a friend encouraged her to try. .
This year’s forensic season has been cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year she and her partner had to record their play and submit it virtually instead of performing in person.
“Going from regular forensics to virtual forensics was a little different, but I felt we handled it really really well this year,” Rouse said. “We actually got to state and got second place and were one point away from a gold medal in state.
Feldman described Rouse as a reliable member of his many activities.
“She has never missed a marching band or a marching band performance, nor a marching band concert, nor a national anthem with the choir,” she says.
Rouse also took on several physical challenges. In elementary school, she was diagnosed with hearing loss and wore hearing aids until her second grade. She also wore a cast on her right foot for almost five months in fifth grade and worked with a doctor to correct a tendency to walk on her toes because her left leg is longer than her right. She is now walking on her stomach, although she is still limping slightly.
“Sometimes people ask, ‘Why are you walking like this? Are you hurt? “, Did she say. “I’m just going to explain, ‘It’s just a natural thing that I was born with.'”
Feldman said this positive outlook is typical of Rouse.
“She’s the nicest, nicest person I’ve ever met in my life,” Feldman said. “She never has a bad attitude, she’s always positive… She’s definitely a person who (believes) the glass is half full, and that’s something we always need.”
In the fall, Rouse will attend Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as part of his two-year veterinary technician program. She eventually hopes to complete a five-year internship in a zoo and become a certified veterinary technician in zoology.
“I love the variety, learning about different animals and where they come from,” she says. “I like different hands-on activities. I don’t like to do the same thing every day. I want to experience the difference. “