Students might know senior Zeke La Mantia through his always changing and evolving hair colors or from behind the stage lights of Knight Auditorium.
Bristol Elementary alum La Mantia’s favorite high school memories come from his involvement in the drama department.
“My favorite memories are running All Write my sophomore year, doing the ‘Meta Plays’ junior year and my prom fit for senior year,” La Mantia said.
La Mantia has been on the WG Echo for all four years of high school, serving as social media manager and graphics editor.
La Mantia has been heavily awarded for his work on Echo.
“I’ve won 19 awards, mostly for photography but some for social media work and story writing, including an Honorable Mention from STL Public Radio, where my photo was displayed across the side of a building and MJEA Portrait photo of the year, where I received a medal,” La Mantia shared.
La Mantia plans to take a gap year after high school.
“After I graduate, I plan on taking a gap year to work at my job and collect that money and travel. Then, come fall of 2023, I hope to go to St. Louis Community College, the Forest Park campus, using my A+ hours. I’m going to study mortuary science, in the hopes of owning my own funeral home,” La Mantia said.
Despite his hopes of entering the mortuary field, La Mantia has many interests and passions.
“I also just want to try everything. I’ve had so many interests and hobbies my whole life. I know being a student, doing one thing is not for me, so even if I do have a true passion to be my eventual career, I’m gonna take my time getting there. I plan on working in retail, traveling and working at fairgrounds, maybe being a truck driver, doing something with live sound in theater, possibly doing something in cosmetology and probably a lot of other things I haven’t thought of yet,” La Mantia explained.
About why he chose mortuary science, “I decided on mortuary science because I liked anatomy and originally wanted to go into the medical field. As someone who does not do well in rigidly structured places with dumb rules where people who don’t deserve respect always try and demand it, I knew I wouldn’t make it through all those extra years of school,” La Mantia said.
“If anything, I solidified my plans out of spite for how Webster went about setting up upcoming seniors for college, pushing MO so hard and pushing four-year colleges and saying certain classes were required, when truly they were just recommended for four-year, out-of-state schools,” La Mantia said.
“The effort and the forcefulness of it kinda deterred me (from a ‘normal’ college route). More and more, I just started to think about how school is not my friend, and I can’t immediately just jump back into it. Not every student follows the same path and to act like all students are the same and to pick a different option is shameful, has never sat right with me. It kind of made me decide to be the ‘poster child’ for unconventional plans. Mrs. (Mickey) Erb said this year is the year that most students have decided to take a gap year, and I’m proud that things seem to be changing,” La Mantia continued.
La Mantia’s favorite part about WGHS has to be the “most mundane parts.”
“I’ll miss the Subway-style sandwiches the cafeteria offers. I’ll miss the pep rallies because I’ve always loved skipping class and watching music, dance performances. More so, my favorite thing about this place is Mr. (Donald) Johnson and Echo and the few friends I’ve managed to make along the way,” La Mantia said.
La Mantia was nominated for a Top Hat award by English teacher and WG Echo advisor Johnson.
Johnson, who has had La Mantia all four years, said, “Zeke La Mantia has used the high school experience to really explore his interests and to develop his talents.”
“I’m thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given to achieve the accomplishments I’ve achieved, but if I had to trade in all of that stuff to not have to do high school again, I would, in a heartbeat,” La Mantia said.
This will be Jackson Parks’ first year on ECHO staff, but he made several contributions while taking journalism class his sophomore year.