Alumni Spotlight: Bourenko is Back in the Building

Shawnee Bourenko has been playing competitive roller derby since 2010, and practices for her competitions often. Bourenko says that she’s lost count of how many games she’s played, but she’s never lost passion for the sport.

Shawnee Bourenko

Shawnee Bourenko has been playing competitive roller derby since 2010, and practices for her competitions often. Bourenko says that she’s lost count of how many games she’s played, but she’s never lost passion for the sport.

Gkathleen Guedez, Editor

Shawnee Bourenko (Class of 2006) has returned to Warren Hills after many years of new experiences.
Bourenko has worked at a variety of jobs, ranging from kennel assistant to skateboard manufacturer to a librarian. Bourenko said she had admired all of these professions, but she couldn’t stay long enough to get deep into her work. Nowadays, Bourenko can be seen in the high school hallways working as a paraprofessional.
Bourenko said that she first entered the field of education as a paraprofessional for young children. Afterwards she had started working in office management at a fire equipment company when the COVID-19 pandemic had struck.
“I was laid off during the pandemic, so I decided to go back to the field I’m most passionate about,” she said.
This year is filled with firsts for Bourenko, as this is her first year as a Warren Hills employee and first year working with older students. Bourenko said that she loves the environment and the students that she works with, every day.
Bourenko said her favorite thing about being a paraprofessional is building relationships and working closely with the students.
“Some students can be challenging, other students keep me laughing, but the position is always rewarding,” she said.
During her time here as a student, Bourenko’s favorite classes and teachers were Mrs. Penny Giamoni and Mrs. MaryAnn McKinney in Journalism, as well as AP French with Madame Jukes, who has since retired.
Bourenko’s most memorable high school experience was serving her first and last detention by participating in Books Not Bombs. This was a nationwide student walk-out that was protesting the war in Iraq.
“A few of us did take the public bus from Washington to Hackettstown and ended the day at a picket demonstration,” she said.
Bourenko said that in hindsight, the protests held across the nation didn’t change the course of the war, but in that moment they felt less helpless while using their voices in support of peace.
Outside of Warren Hills, Bourenko is a mom to a 9 year old, eighteen-month-old identical twins, and a 3-year-old lab mix. But that’s not all. Bourenko has been skating in competitive roller derby since 2010. Her most memorable games were internationally ranked when her team skated against Middlesbrough, England and Bogota, Columbia.
Some notable advice that Bourenko wished to share with students, to make the most of your high school experience.
“I was so focused on the activities I already knew I loved that I didn’t take advantage of other opportunities the high school offers,” she said.
Bourenko said to try something new, branch out, and meet someone outside of your inner circle.
“Warren Hills offers so many classes and clubs, there’s sure to be something that piques your curiosity!” she said.