For Nate Wiewel, high school isn't just a period of time he can't wait to get through so he can move on to bigger and better things; it's a big part of who he is.
Wiewel, 18, is a senior at Putnam City West High School, and there's no place he'd rather be. He is a fixture at sporting events and other activities. He is quick with talking points about his school: “We're No. 1 in basketball right now.”
To that end, he produced a video highlighting his school that was played for members of the Putnam City Board of Education. The concept of “We Are West” was his. The video was well-received by the board and others who have seen it.
“We went around and showed students involved in student council and athletics,” he said. “That was our way of showing the diverse population of students and how much talent is at West. That's something I'm very passionate about, because there are so many amazing people at this school with so many different talents.”
Wiewel is a National Merit Scholar semifinalist and is involved in student council and other activities.
Making, saving money
Away from school, he has three moneymaking businesses.
One is a Web design business that created the campaign website for former Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields.
Another is a photo business called Photokies. He shoots photos for graduations and other important life events.
His third is an audio production business. He has produced three albums released in iTunes and is set to release another soon.
“A lot of the money I save, and some of it I invest in other business ventures,” he said. “I do make a pretty good amount of money. I've been fortunate to be able to work for myself. Most of the money I make goes into savings. I have a plan to live a debt-free life.”
And while most kids his age wouldn't know Dave Ramsey from Gordon Ramsay, Wiewel is familiar with the financial guru's teachings.
“When I was 14, Dave Ramsey came and spoke to my church, and he really inspired me, and I've always wanted to make sure that I never had to live in debt,” Wiewel said. “I took that challenge, and I've been saving ever since. I paid for my car in cash. I have school money saved up. I just try not to owe money.”
His favorite room in the school is the student council room, loaded with old but comfy couches and graffiti artwork on the walls. Tammy Jensen, the Putnam City West student council adviser, has known Wiewel since middle school. Her son is his best friend. She has seen Wiewel grow from a shy kid to one not shy about sharing ideas.
“The growth from his sixth- and seventh-grade year to his senior year has been amazing,” Jensen said. “You could see him start putting his toe in the water during his freshman and sophomore years, and now that ripple effect from that is impacting other kids.”
That's not to say he doesn't have to be reined in. Wiewel had an idea to line the school's hallways with Christmas trees but that was shot down because it would take up too much room and cost too much. He also wanted to leave his mark in other ways.
“He wanted to change the school crest because he thought it was too old-timey,” Jensen said. “Nate wanted to modernize it.”
All of which just proves how much he loves his school. Wiewel wants others to love it too.
“I want to leave my mark on West,” he said. “I really want to change the school for the better. I want people to view this school as a better place. I want to leave a legacy.”
After high school, Wiewel plans to attend the University of Oklahoma and major in visual communication.