Southwest grads flock back to the Silver Hawks nest as staff members
Ashlee Wikoff, Alivia Wubbels and Cam Pieper played valuable roles in the story of Lincoln Southwest High School during their time as students there.
All three are remaining on the Silver Hawks stage in leadership capacities this year and helping students shine in academic spotlights.
Wikoff graduated from Southwest in 2008, Wubbels earned her diploma in 2016 and Pieper graduated in 2018.
Southwest Principal John Matzen said he was pleased to have all three alumni in the school building. He said they are using their time and talents to make a big difference for everyone.
“Having staff members who were former students is beneficial in a number of ways,” Matzen said. “First of all, they provide a concrete example to staff and students of the fruits of our labors. These are young professionals who took the education they received at Southwest and used it to transition to adulthood. In addition, these staff members provide insight into the student experience and bridge that gap to provide a better school experience.”
Wubbels is beginning her second year as a paraeducator at Southwest. She worked on the stage crew of nearly every theater performance during her four years as a Silver Hawk. She now helps in the box office during theater activities.
Wubbels said it has been an enriching experience to work alongside trusted teachers and mentors in Southwest classrooms.
“This is a rewarding job not only because of the students, but the people I am proud to call my co-workers,” Wubbels said. “I think it’s cool to say that some of the teachers that taught me as a student are now my co-workers and are still helping me to become better for the students I work with daily.”
Wubbels said her job has also opened her eyes to the scope of work that Southwest employees perform on a daily basis. A total of 2,171 students were enrolled at the school in the 2022-23 academic year.
“I have enjoyed getting to witness the behind-the-scenes aspects of what it takes to keep a school of this size operating,” Wubbels said. “As a student you don’t see a lot of the things that every department in this school does daily. Now as an employee I have a greater appreciation for all of my teachers and other support staff.”
Pieper joined Southwest’s staff this year as a special education teacher and assistant football coach. He played football, basketball and baseball at Southwest before enrolling at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He handled long-snapping duties on the UNL football team and earned Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and Academic All-Big Ten honors.
“So far I have enjoyed being able to reconnect with previous teachers I had,” Pieper said. “I also enjoy being able to come to work every day and teach students where I graduated from.”
Pieper said his experiences at Southwest are helping him as a teacher and coach.
“The connections I have been able to make about being a previous student here allow for the students to realize that I have been through what they may be going through,” Pieper said. “It also allows for them to ask me questions about when I was here and what is different.”
Wikoff is a campus supervisor at Southwest. Some of her security-based duties include helping students safely enter the building each morning. She said it has been exciting to spend time at her alma mater on a daily basis.
“When I started my freshman year at Southwest in 2005 it was a great experience being in a school that was still so new, and then returning to work at Southwest in 2021 as the school was approaching its 20th anniversary was another great experience,” Wikoff said.
Wikoff said she has enjoyed forming friendships with fellow staff members over the past several years. She also felt grateful for the chance to work with students in both school and sports settings. She participated on a club bowling team during high school and is now head coach of the Southwest girls bowling team.
“I’ve made so many positive connections through coaching high school kids,” Wikoff said.
Wikoff, Wubbels and Pieper said they are proud to be part of the Silver Hawks family. All three Southwest alumni said they are happy to help students achieve award-winning roles on life’s stage.
“I feel that being able to say that I graduated from here has helped me to show that in some way the students and I can relate,” Wubbels said. “To know that I was in the exact same place as them, having some of the same teachers, classes and experiences, gives me the chance to be a person they can come to for advice. I encourage students to work hard because four years goes fast and they are setting up who they will be going into the next chapters of their lives!”
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!
Published: September 8, 2023, Updated: September 9, 2023