Students, staff possess interests beyond the classroom

Michael DeBanto, a senior at Fairmont, poses with two of his collector cars

Michael DeBanto, a senior at Fairmont, poses with two of his collector cars

When people see each other every day at school, it’s easy for them to think they know each other pretty well. But do they? Sometimes a person’s interests aren’t that readily apparent. While some are passionate about school activities or subjects, the interests of students and staff go far beyond what happens inside FHS.

Fairmont Senior Michael DeBanto has loved automobiles ever since he can remember. “I remember riding with my grandma in her 1979 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance and I just loved that car. That’s really what sparked my interest,” said DeBanto.

But DeBanto’s isn’t really all that interested in modern cars. “My favorite cars are the luxury cars of the 1970s. The first that comes to mind as my favorite would be a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am,” he said.

In DeBanto’s eyes, muscle cars are almost becoming a thing of the past – that’s what interests him about them. “Back in the day, the cars were just made with more heart. They were made with much more style and durability,” he said. “The little cars you see on the streets today won’t last those 20 years down the road.”

Another interest that can be found within the student body is Irish dancing. Fairmont senior Gracie Townsend has had a love for Irish dancing since childhood. “My mother had been into dancing for 35 years, plus both of my sisters were involved in dancing. This has been a tradition in my family for years,” said Townsend.

Irish dancing is an interest that can be fostered through both a person’s heritage and family traditions. Although in its roots, Irish dancing has no competitive aspect, dancers now can compete in individual events or team events. “I love competing both individually and with a team,” said Townsend. I’ve made so many friends in the process; I practically grew up with my teammates.”

English teacher Fig Poling has an interest that’s a bit unusual in the Midwest – whale watching, which involves traveling and becoming one with nature. “The first time I went whale watching, we went to the Gulf of Maine,” said Poling. “It has underwater mountain ranges, thus being filled with marine life; whales love feeding there.”

Being so in sync with nature is something that opens a lot of different interesting doors. “The only time I’ve gone and haven’t seen whales was in Lubec, Maine. Although there weren’t whales, it was still amazing because we saw a lot of seals and American bald eagles,” said Poling.

Another teacher with an unusual interest is math teacher Brad Bishop. “My interest in singing started in church when I was a young boy. I learned how to read music through hymns and would then learn different harmonies,” said Bishop. “That’s how I learned to do tenor and bass; my family all shares a love of singing, including my parents who sing duets in their retirement community and are the leaders of their choir at church. Also, my sister was involved with dinner theatre after college.”

Bishop’s interest for singing, like his family’s, has turned into much more as time has progressed. The math teacher now enjoys performing in plays and musicals. “I perform with a community theatre and am right now actually rehearsing a production of Scrooge at the Dayton Playhouse,” said Bishop.

“My favorite type of singing and performing is with rock ‘n’ roll music. That’s where my voice and love for playing guitar really come out,” said Bishop.

Teachers and students alike all have things that interest them. And it’s those varied interests that can bring people together or set them apart from each other. DeBanto knows some people might not understand his love of muscle cars, but that doesn’t bother him.

“Although it’s just a car,” he said, “it’s something that I can really relate to.”