YES Programs



An Amazing Host School

Senior Photo of Cynthia

By Cynthia Fayssal (YES 2021-2022, Lebanon, placed by IRIS in Sheffield, IA)

When I arrived in the United States, my biggest concern was building a community around me that I could come back to ─ one I could be a part of. At West Fork High School, I was able to do just that! I met the kindest students, teachers, admin, and staff members.

I was able to participate in the Willy Wonka Musical. Through that, I met so many people I am proud to call friends. I also participated in the Individual Speech Contest. During all levels of competition, I found an incredible support system of teachers and students. We were four students at first, and only three made it to State. After that, I was the only one that made it to All-State. Even when they didn't qualify, they still took time in the middle of the week to go to the contest with me, and they watched me perform and practice. Despite the fact that they had heard my poem countless times, they constantly repeated how proud they were.

Cynthia with her friends after the Willy Wonka performance

I also built an amazing relationship with my English teacher and speech coach, Mrs. Schafer. She never expects anything less than greatness and sets all her students up for success. Mrs. Schafer followed me throughout the Speech Contest, making sure I went in with confidence in myself and my piece. She made sure I was aware of my abilities and never underestimated me. 

Another person that followed me throughout my speech journey was our principal, Mrs. Willms. Being a former speech coach herself, she made sure to always let me know how great I was doing and to wish me luck when she couldn't attend my performances. Mrs. Willms cheered me on at Districts and give me pointers for State. 

I am eternally grateful to both Mrs. Willms and Mrs. Schafer. 

Students take a group photo while competing a speech competition.

My Anatomy & Physiology teacher, Ms. Friest, also deserves an honorable mention. She teaches my favorite class and always makes it fun. Through my experience in her class, I have done countless labs and projects to further enforce the content of the units. On a more personal side, Ms. Friest was always there to talk about big decisions and to help me figure out hard choices in life. She made sure I never underestimated myself and my abilities, and taught me to always look forward to the positive things that come out of uncertainty. She is also really funny, and I cannot express how thankful I am. 

Finally, to all the amazing people and other teachers and staff that I was able to connect with at West Fork High School, thank you for giving me a family that provides so much support and love. You're all amazing!