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My name is Delaney Deering, and I am a senior at Waukee High School. I was a part of the Designing Communication Solutions APEX team last semester. I am happy that I became a part of the Waukee APEX family for many reasons. First, APEX has taught me many things in my fields of interest. Second, APEX definitely has helped me narrow down my passion areas. Third, I know that no matter where I go or what I do I will always be a part of the Waukee APEX family, which means so much to me. I know that the faculty and staff will always support me in my professional endeavors.

At the beginning of APEX, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew I wanted to take the design class, but I had no idea what projects I would be doing or even what the APEX program was going to be like. When I was gathering some information about APEX before electing to take the class, I remember asking a senior in my art class about the program. She had taken an APEX class, and when I asked her if APEX was worth taking she immediately responded YES! She described the amazing atmosphere and projects along with the great people involved. Hearing the excitement leave her mouth while explaining it made me confident that I wanted to be involved in at least one APEX course.

During my time in APEX, I had so many amazing opportunities to create incredible things for incredible people. On the first day my APEX teacher, Russ Goerend, welcomed my class with excitement and open arms. I cannot tell you how many times I saw a smile on his face, whether it was over Zoom or him physically telling me there was a smile under his mask. Throughout the term, Russ connected me with photographers, videographers, writers, and more. In addition, our design team had the opportunity to work on multiple creative projects. We used class time to complete modules that helped us learn about photography, graphic design, and career exploration. The other part of our class time was spent working on projects that involved real companies. For my projects, I got to work with the Raccoon River Trail Association, as well as Anna Jordal, the APEX Education and Business Event Manager. Anna works on communications and events for the APEX program, and we were able to help her brainstorm some creative solutions to moving some large events online.

For the Raccoon River Trail Association, I had the opportunity to go on adventures to places like Cooper, Panora, and Redfield, Iowa. Once I traveled to these locations I was able to utilize my photography skills to take pictures of trails. It was nice to be by myself, taking pictures, reflecting on what I am doing in my life. The other project that I was involved with was helping with the Waukee APEX biannual Showcase event. My team consisted of myself, Ally Roeth, and Reagan Brooks, and we worked with Anna Jordal to brainstorm ways to move this large event to a virtual platform. We ran into some challenges with this project, as once we would come up with a plan we would have to shift again due to COVID mitigation strategies being revised by the district. Our team also worked with Anna on a new logo for Showcase, as well as a promotional video for the virtual event.

In addition to project work through DCS, I was able to explore different career options. I have always known that I want to do something creative for a career and that I am interested in interior design, photography, and writing. Based on my interests, Russ connected me with Peg Armstrong-Gustafson, who currently serves as the Business Development Manager for the APEX program. Peg is a dynamic professional with a wealth of knowledge, and she was able to connect me to Christopher Gannon who is the photographer that runs the Iowa State University Instagram page. I was able to talk with him and show him my personal photography page. It gave me an inside view of Iowa State and the photography side of the university. After having that interview with him I started to look more in-depth into attending Iowa State University.

Along with other interviews with photographers and videographers, I shared with Russ that I have an interest in writing. When the second term began, I started my creative writing class at the high school and have found that I really enjoy that kind of writing. Being in that class encouraged me to start writing my own book. Because I am interested in possibly being an author, I am now hoping to conduct some informational interviews with authors to learn more about that career path.

APEX is truly an amazing experience that everyone should take advantage of. From the professionalism to the unique learning environment and the supportive people that you are surrounded by, there is so much to gain from being a part of this unique program. APEX will always have a place in my heart, and I am truly grateful for all of the opportunities and experiences! If you are interested in supporting me as an aspiring photographer, please follow my Instagram account.