TISD Senior Perspective 2022
No Regrets... Like the great Dr. Seuss says, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I have never been one to stop and dwell in a valley. When it’s time, it’s time. I never tried to rush to the end before I got to experience what phase I was in presently. Each phase had its own purpose and joy. My advice—don’t rush it; enjoy the process.
Ninth grade was fun, new, and I was focused. I was nerve free entering high school because I was overjoyed with what I knew was about to become my new norm. It was those Thursday night football games now transitioning to what people refer to as “Friday night lights,” where I would take my position on the field after strutting out to the school fight song. I was about to be the girl in the sparkly dress, dancing at every pep rally and game that I had sat and admired since my mom took me to a high school game when I was in kindergarten. I was thrilled to attend those early Thursday morning practices, performing at watermelon supper, wearing a mum the week of homecoming, and shopping for a matching shirt for the Sadie Hawkins dance. No fears of high school coul outweigh all the things I knew I was about to be a part of. However, I knew the standards were high at Texas High. I put in countless hours of studying and dance classes because I wanted to be the best at what I did.
It is your tenth-grade year when you start driving and people get in the groove of high school and begin forming their friend groups, but for me, looking back at that year, it was a blur. My whole life changed, and I grew up, but not by my own free will. At the beginning of the school year, I tried out for Texarkana Community Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” and landed the lead role of Clara. This was a dream and something I felt I had accomplished because of my focus and the 13 previous years of work that I had put into dance. It was only a week after Clara rehearsals began that my dad suffered a massive stroke, resulting in a 4cm bleed in the lower section of his brain, his memory gone, and his right side paralyzed. He then spent 30 days in the ICU/rehab hospital where my mother stayed with him. At fifteen, I assumed my position as head of the house, packing my sister’s lunch, helping her with homework, and applying for my driving hardship. With my role as Clara came practices every night in surrounding towns. My church family stepped in and took me to practice and drove my sister and me to school.
I took on a new way of life and I had little time to spend with friends through it all. I spent all my free time dancing, studying, taking care of my sister, or sitting in the rehab facility. Dancing and being Clara was my happy place. It took me away from all the responsibilities I now had, and it made the hard time I was facing seem not so bad. For the nineteen months that followed the stroke, it became my responsibility to load my Pop into the car five days a week and deliver him to rehab on my way to school while my mom took my sister to school and then headed off to work. After dropping him off, I would then go to the high school parking lot to sit in “my office” (my car) for 30 minutes to review for my day before the bell rang.
Sophomore year I learned this: People and their life situations matter. Life obstacles change you. They cause you to see and understand differently. They cause you to choose life choices differently. They alter your path and sometimes leave scars that impact your life. The filter I now see through has taught me to grow and help others grow through their scars rather than remain in the shadows of them.
Junior year, I poured it all into drill team. This year I was taking the field as junior lieutenant and had a leadership position to uphold while also wearing a mask. Taking my dad to therapy every morning before school had become adopted into my daily routine. My focus and busyness diminish that year. I was determined to make good grades, become a better dancer, and take care of my home life. I had high expectations for myself to be perfect and continued not to make much time for fun outside of school. Over the coursework of this year, one book we read in AP English really struck me. Tuesdays with Morrie left a long-lasting impression on me and made me come to appreciate the teachers I was surrounded by even more. It taught me that some teachers impact your life as you have them, but some have a ripple effect that affects you as time goes on.
One teacher I experienced was Mrs. Holly Mooneyham. I had her for English both my freshman year and later in my senior year. Not only was she an example of courage through her own life story, but she never failed to show her students love and her care for them every day. I later got to recognize Mrs. Mooneyham for this in the scholastic banquet, which I was invited to because of my ranking as a Summa Cum Laude graduate, where we brought our most influential teacher. My complete 13 years of education started and finished within the TISD campuses from Morriss Elementary to Texas Middle School to Texas High School. Though I could only choose one of my teachers to accompany me to the Scholastic Excellence Banquet, the simple act of choosing my most influential educator allowed me to reflect on the many positive ripple effects that so many educators brought to my life. There were many: Rebecca Potter, Betty Lynn Stark, Cathryn Diaz, Amber Reynolds, Gerry Stanford, Olivia Webb, Lauren Pilgreen, Meredith Gross, Patti O’Bannon, Susan Waldrep, Anita Badgett, Danny Williams, Charles Aldridge, Jessica Sharp, Meghan Martin, Debbie Nicholas, April Philips, Patty McDonald, Jennifer Guffey, Crystal Martinez, Richard Stahl, Ramona Keener, Trish, Mr. Keith Davis, Bobby, Roxanne Higganbotham, Courtney Waldrep, Coach Sarah Morton, Scott Minnie, Lea Metcalf, Coach Starnes, Kay Shirley, Corie Woodman, Erin Davis, Loretta McCloud, Todd Marshall (inside joke.... happy birthday) and Rick Sandlin. I still have a personal relationship with every one of these educators, which speaks well of TISD for selecting each of them to help prepare me for my future.
To paraphrase Ephesians 2:10, “I am God’s workmanship, created to do good works which God has already prepared for me to do.” I am prepared because my family, my church and TISD have poured into making me ready. I am excited to see where He leads me from here.
Senior year! Finally, we were HERE. I was yearbook editor-in-chief, and we titled the yearbook “Here” because we got to all be present and Here!!!! If you skip to the end of a great book or movie, then you miss the “why” of the conclusion. The journey of high school is the important part, and that journey grows you and defines you. Your “why” is all the struggles and the bumpy road you transition through before approaching graduation.
While visiting Boston over Christmas break, I went to one of the oldest streets in America; Acorn Street was built in 1823 and is made of cobblestone. It is the most photographed street in America. Cobblestone is a smooth round rock; therefore, it is bumpy to walk on or drive on because the rocks are round and don’t form a flat surface when laid together. As I stood at the foot of this American landmark, I reflected on my three and a half years of high school and saw how things always looked smooth for me, like the texture of a single cobblestone rock. But when it was all put together, it had been a bumpy journey. I felt like that road. I was probably the most photographed student in Texas High, thanks to my paparazzi mom, just as Acorn Street is the most photographed in America.
Standing at the foothill at Acorn Street, I realized it was time to stop trying so hard. During my senior year, I made some of the best memories because I let go. I’ve always tried to be the best but decided to just enjoy the journey. This came with some cost because I missed being in the top 10 of 337 classmates by just a fraction, but I had learned that some things were not as important as I thought they were. I still focused on my schoolwork and ended up with the highest GPA on the Texas HighStepper team for my 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade years, but I had learned to let go of things and to make time for the friends and memories I would remember long after I got my diploma.
You can always move forward through tough times if you have faith that God can take the ugly and turn it for your benefit. Always remember that your story continues because He has a plan for you. I leave you with this Dr. Seuss quote, “Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. So, love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t, and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get the chance, take it. If life changes, let it. Nobody said it would be easy. They just promised it would be worth it.”