By Abby Gawrych, Current Staff
For choir teacher Tess Tranel, the West Bend theater stage is both a fresh and familiar experience.
Tranel, the new choir teacher at the West Bend High Schools, attended Holy Angels Parish School for elementary school and graduated from West Bend West High School in 2014. While in high school, she always had aspirations to sing and dance. Tranel participated in all four musicals, joined mixed choir and concert choir, participated in the group Vivace! and eventually joined honors choir during her time at West Bend. She then went on to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
“I couldn’t get enough of music, and I knew that I wanted to continue on with it for the rest of my life,” Tranel said.
Although she had left the area, she still had many emotional ties to West Bend, including the fact that her mom currently teaches fourth grade at Holy Angels. This, along with many other factors, drew her back to West Bend.
“By the time I was a (college) senior I was ready to come back,” Tranel said. “When I found out there was a job opening here I just thought that it was meant to be.”
Grace Peplinski, an East senior, represents another emotional attachment Tranel has to West Bend.
“She was my big buddy when I was in fourth grade,” Peplinski said. “She was my favorite big buddy. I also had her mom as a teacher at Holy Angels. It’s weird now seeing her as a teacher at school.”
“When I found out there was a job opening here I just thought that it was meant to be.”
– Tess Tranel, choir teacher
Besides directing the WBHS choir, Tranel is involved in numerous other theatrical productions around the area, such as Spotlight Productions, Musical Masquers and Comicality in Harford. She also has plans to sing with the Holy Angels church choir.
“I’ve been involved in local West Bend theater ever since I was young,” Tranel said. “I’d like to think about getting back into that.”
McKenna Garvey, an East junior in the choir, feels like Tranel is a perfect fit for this position.
“She’s what the choir program needed,” Garvey said. “She’s so proud of everything we are doing and she is very organized. She’s handling the pressure so well.”
Now that she has had time to adjust, Tranel noticed how welcoming both the staff and the students have been and how they have made this transition for her much easier.
“All of the staff have been so welcoming,” Tranel said. “The students have been so receptive. I feel like I already have a close bond with all of them.”
Not only has Tranel had to endure the challenges of becoming a new teacher, but she has also had to plan a choir concert in the midst of it all. As stressful as it may be, she managed to pull the first one off successfully.
“I knew that this concert was earlier than previous years, so I kind of hit the ground running with all the rules and new pieces,” Tranel said. “We worked really hard on all of our fall pieces. It was a big success.”
Frankie Breit, a West junior in the choir, agreed that the choir was very successful and that Tranel did a great job producing the concert.
“Our first concert went really well,” Breit said. “Mrs. Tranel had everything under control and it was really well run.”
This concert in particular was an emotional one for Tranel due to the fact that it was her first concert back in West Bend since her days in high school.
“The first concert was pretty emotional for me coming back to West Bend,” Tranel said. “The theme was coming home and it was a big deal to me. But it all went well and now it’s time to focus on the next one.”
(Images: Tess Tranel leads her third period Vivace! class today. Photos by Olivia Langdon, Current Staff.)