Interview: Mr. Wykoff, Physics Teacher & Club Advisor

Today’s interview covers Mr. Wykoff – he is the department chair of Science, though his engagements aren’t limited to just that. He advises the Campus Life club and prepares Academic Decathalon in both math and science. While he currently teaches Physics only, he is also very good at the other sciences like Chemistry. He is credentialed to teach AP Chemistry – and maintains the credential yearly! He may often get off-topic in class for nerding out over things (like space launches or proving commonly accepted phenomena – ie. the Earth being round).

Well, that’s enough introduction – let’s get a first hand look into the mind of Mr. Wykoff!

WYKOFF: Why Hello~

INTV: Hello Mr. Wykoff! Would you please introduce yourself?

WYKOFF: I’m Mr. Wykoff.

INTV: What do you do?

WYKOFF: I teach physics and sometimes Chemistry and Earth Science here at Highland.

Mr. Wykoff’s classroom oozes with personality that can truly excite any STEM-y person!

INTV: Do you advise any club here?

WYKOFF: I advise the Campus Life club. I help out with Academic Decathalon for their science and their math, of course I do tutoring after school!

(Campus Life meetings are held every Tuesday during 4th & 5th lunch. They are located in his classroom — which is conveniently right behind the Student Store!)

INTV: Ok great. Can you tell me how long you have been at Highland?

WYKOFF: This is my 11th year at Highland I believe.

INTV: Can you recall a specific favorite memory from those 11 years?

WYKOFF: My favorite memory – well it’s two that are kind of the same thing – when both of my sons graduated Highland, I was able to go up on stage and hand them their diploma as they walked across the stage

INTV: O wow! That is super cool!

In his classroom Mr. Wykoff proudly displays his and his teams Cross Country Valley Championship back in 2018. And the team has only gotten better since — shout out to this years girl’s Varsity team!

WYKOFF: Another great memory – I also coached Highlands cross country team to their first ever cross country valley championship.

INTV: And when was that?

WYKOFF: 2018 I think! Not sure but it was pretty recent!

INTV: So you do a lot of things here. Can you tell me how you do it all!

WYKOFF: The calendar helps! I use a Google calendar, it helps a lot because otherwise, I would forget everything I need to do.

(He shows us his Calendar
INTV: Its pretty stacked!

WYKOFF: So it’s basically color coded! It really helps!

INTV: We also heard you were a bit of a nerd. (A lot of a nerd!) So how far does your nerdiness get?

WYKOFF: I dont know in what vein you want nerdiness but I get really happy about math when math works! I am a huge fan of lord of the rings and dune! The next book I’m reading is “5 Equations that Changed the World” it is basically a math and physics book – just for fun!

INTV: When did the sciences first spark your interest?

WYKOFF: Probably always. My father was always pointing out physical geological features and I thought , “I wonder how those came to be” – this was at a very young age. So it was Earth science and Geology that sort of stuff that got me hooked. I just like to know why things work the way they do.

INTV: Is there anything you wish your students knew about you or your classes?

The mole is one of Mr. Wykoffs many class pets.

WYKOFF: I’d want students to know that I can do what I do but unless students invest themselves into the curriculum, it’s either going to be work or they’re not going to succeed at all. So, if they just do the class for the sake of taking a class, it’s not necessarily going to be fun. Though, they can still be successful of course.

“But if you just make yourself curious as to the “Why” — why things work the way they do – it will be both enjoyable and easier~”

Wise Wykoff

INTV: From your perspective, how has Highland changed from when you first started here?

WYKOFF: Well, when I first started here we had about 1,800 students – now we’re at 2,600 closing at 2,700, so the campus has gotten a whole lot more crowded. We have a lot more advanced classes being offered now which is really nice to have because students have a lot of options.

Mr. Wykoff takes his white board-ing very seriously, often even pulling out a ruler for straight lines. This truly is an art form!

INTV: Would you like to see AP Physics 2 and 3 implemented in the future?

WYKOFF: I think it would be fun to have an AP Physics 2! It would be fun for AP Physics C for the students who are in the Calculus class. I think it would be hard to offer those because I don’t know if the demand would be high enough but I think it would be fun! AP Physics 1 basically only covers half of a Physics curriculum. You’re only getting into the kinematics, dynamics, rotational stuff. You don’t get into the magnetism, electricity, waves – so you’re missing out on a lot by just taking AP Physics 1.. It would be great to have AP Physics 2.

INTV: Ok! Now we’re nearing the end, but before – before we ask you those –

WYKOFF: 42 (a reference to a nerdy book – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Adams)

I: 42 seconds?

W: No! That was the answer to the first question!

I: (aggressively nodding)

W: (CHUCKLES) That’s a nerdiness answer… for those of you who get that (Interviewer Jorel later told us he got the reference, but everyone left Mr. Wykoff hanging in the moment. Ah ~~ forgive us non-nerds Mr. Wykoff ~~)

I: What is Highland High School to you?

W: Basically it’s kind of my home as far as work… I see myself working here until I retire and I enjoy it here!

I: Ok! Now the Lightning round! Best fast food joint?

W: Chick-Fil-A

I: Pineapple on pizza?

W: Ehhh no

I: Is the Earth Flat?

W: Of course not

I: Beach or forest?

W: Forest

I: Chocolate or vanilla?

W: Vanilla… well in terms of ice cream! I wouldn’t want white chocolate!

I: Do you believe in aliens?

W: No

I: Cake or pie?

W: Pie

I: Artificial Intelligence – yay or nay?

W: Nay

I: Cat or dog?

W: Dog

I: Nasa or SpaceX

W: SpaceX

Thank you so much!

Even though we only got to spend a short amount of time with Mr. Wykoff today, he shone very brightly. It was very obvious in his speech and mannerisms that he is a smart man with a great personality. We noted that he goes above and beyond with what he enjoys, and an insider told us that it shows in his teaching as well. Mr. Wykoff happens to have some very unique, niche interests; and as a fellow niche enjoyer, I find it great to see this diverse representation of all kinds of hobbies and interests on campus. I

n the end, Mr. Wykoff continues to remind us all about what it means to be a life long learner — which is exactly why he is such a valuable asset to us here on campus.

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