When it comes to memories, one high school memory Nathan Wuestenberg won’t forget happened during a tennis practice.
“We stopped the practice to watch a hawk try and catch a squirrel for about an hour,” the Ballard senior recalled.
And this memory goes to show that it’s the little things that sometimes make the biggest difference in students’ lives. For Wuestenberg, there were many funny and enjoyable times that he loved with his cross country and tennis teammates. Going on long runs, having good laughs … those are simple, but unforgettable times.
“I ran and lettered in cross country all four years of high school, with a personal record of 17:42 and finishing all-conference my senior year,” he said. He also played tennis for all four years of high school and was able to suit up and play varsity all four years, earning letters in two of those seasons.
For all but his senior year, he also took part in basketball.
These sports activities, along with being involved in high school youth ministry at his church, were the main high school activities for Wuestenberg, who now plans to attend Iowa State and earn a degree in aerospace engineering.
“I am hoping to graduate college with a degree in aerospace engineering and able to be hired by a large company. I hope to live in a community around the size of the Ballard school district,” he said.
Wuestenberg is the son of Todd and Kendra Wuestenberg of Huxley. He has two older brothers and a younger sister. Ashley is a sophomore at Ballard.
Being just a few weeks from graduation, Wuestenberg said he wants to “enjoy the last few days with my friends and have fun playing high school sports for the last time.” He also wants to finish strong in his classes.
One of his favorite classes at Ballard, he said, was trigonometry. “I liked the teacher, and the material we learned was fun to do. Each problem was like trying to solve a puzzle and would be difficult at times, but when you got the right answer it was a great feeling.”
He’s had some great teachers at Ballard. Two of those stand out as having a strong impact on him as a student.
“Mr. Fletcher is one of our math teachers. Fletch has probably one of the best reputations in our school for being one of the best teachers, and I would agree with this. Having been taught by him three different years, he is always encouraging to students and genuinely cares about each and every one of us. He makes sure we have the necessary skills and equipment to succeed in the classroom. He is able to teach in a way that makes sense and is able to get across a lot of information quickly.”
Mrs. Holly, he said, is another math teacher that has stood out for him. “She has been great and has taught me how to work hard and how to ask better questions, so that I can understand the material better. She is willing to help me whenever I need it. There were many weeks where I would be in her room for an hour every day, asking her questions over problems I did not understand. She would be able to explain them in a way that made more sense to me.”
In the community, one family stood out as most influential to Wuestenberg during his time in school. “The Wohlgemuth family has always been a great family. They have helped me with many things in my life and have always been great. They have helped me by taking me to basketball games on the weekends or to other events.”
When it comes to his own family and their impact on his life, Wuestenberg is thankful to his parents. “My parents have been very supportive of me in my education, helping whenever I needed them.”
When he was in elementary school, crying over the work he had to do most nights, he remembered, “My mom would always help me do homework… She would sit by my side and help me through the problems.”
“(Mom and dad) both have always encouraged me to do great and try my hardest, but (they) never forced me to do anything that would not benefit me. They wanted me to do well in school, but if I didn’t do too great all of the time they would not mind as long as they knew I tried my best. That’s all that mattered.”
He’s given it his best, whether in school, sports or his summer job, working at Haverkamp properties to clean and paint apartment units.
Ballard has been a good place to be a student. Wuestenberg said he’s appreciated the ability to take DMACC classes at the school and online, and as he stated already, the math teachers (important to him with what he’s seeking to do in life) were very supportive.
Even though it feels like he just started high school last year and the fact that he will miss all of his high school friends, he’s ready to be done with high school and to move on to the college experience. “I can’t wait for that.”
For those still going through Ballard High School, he advises them to work hard. “Be willing to apply yourself, whether that’s for your education or for extracurricular activities.”
Wuestenberg would also tell them they can’t go wrong at Ballard. It’s a school he’s very proud of.
“The teachers are great, they are kind, caring and willing to help students succeed,” he said.
“It’s a very welcoming place that is easy for people to get to know others,” he concluded.