What are your thoughts in being the first distinguished grad?
I’m so honored to be the first distinguished graduate. I’m happy to represent this program because it stresses what I think is important in high school. The whole point about the distinguished graduate program is that it awards learning and growth inside AND outside of the classroom. I hope the students here realize the importance of the program and even more apply next year.
What activities have you participated in your four years at this school?
I’ve participated in a bunch of activities inside and outside of school. Ok here’s the list:
Freshman choir: 9th
Tennis team: 9th, 10th
Key Club: 9th, 10th; 10th, service projects
Teen Volunteer Corp: 9th, 10th.
Youth Leadership Initiative through Indianapolis
United Way: 10th
House of Representatives: 9-12th
Student Venture (Christian student outreach):
Blue and Gold choir: 10th
History Club: 10th
HiLite: 10th, feature reporter, copy-editor; 11th
features co-editor; 12th, managing editor
Accents (competing women’s show choir): 11th, 12th
Model U.N.: 11th, 12th
Spanish Club: 11th, 12th; 12th, Vice-president
National Honor Society: 12th
Spanish Honor Society: 11th, 12th
Wild Bunch (senior girls’ school spirit club):
Teen Liaison to Friends Board: 11th-12th
Teen Library Council: 7-12th; 11th:
Vice-president; 12th: President
St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church Acolyte 4-12th;
Conner Prairie Living History Museum Youth
Interpreter Volunteer: 9-12th
How have you balanced all of these activities with schoolwork?
It can get hard, especially during Accents’ competition season. Then, I can have HiLite from to 5 and Accents from 6 to 9. I get home by 9:30 and study until midnight or 1 a.m. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s a matter of knowing what I have to do and making up my mind to do it. Actually, I find being involved in so many activities forces me to budget time wisely and study efficiently.
Are there any activities you still wish you could do?
I don’t exactly know what you mean by this comment. Time constraints have to become a reality at some point. As a junior, I had to stop playing for the Carmel tennis team because Accents and tennis had conflicting practices. Even so, I enjoyed playing tennis and hope to play intramural (tennis) in college.
What made you want to do all of these activities?
When I attended my first convo as a freshman, I remember that Mr. Lonzo told us we only take with us what we leave behind. The general impression I got was that the high school experience would improve the more involved one was. I also got involved with so many activities because it just felt natural. It was never really a question for me. I expected a busy schedule from day one.
What has been the most difficult part of doing everything?
The most difficult part of being so involved is that I often forget that I need a break. It’s so easy to just keep going and going, to follow the same routine and not to notice exhaustion. I can be like the Energizer bunny who just gets too wrapped up in work to realize the batteries have actually run out. Because not only do I participate in so many activities, I study hard and enjoy hanging out over the weekends with friends. What time do I have left for myself?
What are your plans after graduation?
I’m attending Duke University in the fall of 2008. I plan on studying international relations, languages, neurolinguistics or maybe psychology. I’m quite undecided as far as the exact major, but I’m fascinated by world cultures and human interactions.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hm. In five years I’ll be 23, graduated from college. I see myself either at graduate school, researching something intriguing, or maybe in Europe, working in a foreign capital. I don’t really know what my future holds–those speculations might just be daydreams, or they might mirror truth. Regardless of my activities or my location, I see myself happy and loving life.
In 10 years?
In ten years I’ll be 28. I see myself as a more established, more knowledgeable, and even more successful version of my 23-year-old self.
How do you think you have made Carmel a better place?
I don’t think I made Carmel a better place as much as it made me a better person. Carmel has given me a place to grow and challenge myself. After all, it’s very difficult for just one person to change 4,000. But I hope that, because of me, people laughed more or maybe found something they were interested in. I hope they had one more friend.
What’s your favorite part of this school?
My favorite part of this school is our school spirit. It might sound corny, but I still love piling into the varsity gym and half-singing, half-yelling the words to our fight song. There’s something to be said about seeing 4,000 other teens awash in blue and gold cheering thunderously as one.
What are you going to miss the most about the school?
I’m going to miss the relationships I’ve formed–the bonds with friends and teachers. I’ve
really learned that the importance of learning pales if you don’t have anyone to discuss your findings with. I’ll miss sitting in the HiLite room at the computers, having an impromptu but comically heated debate about nothing in particular. I’ll miss walking down the senior hallway with my friends as we belt out our competition set to the bewilderment of students walking by. I’ll miss the little things, really.
If you could change one thing about the school, what would it be?
I wish more people knew how lucky they are to go to this school, compared to a lot of other high schools in the country.
Describe your most satisfying moment throughout high school.
My most satisfying moment came when the Accents won State for the second year of my involvement. The year before, we had swept every competition and won the State title. This year, prior to State, we won every competition except one; that unnerved us slightly. We continued to practice and perfect harmonies and dance steps in the rehearsals leading up to State. When it came time to perform, we had one shot. (In the competitions, which are somewhat like meets, you have one performance in the morning and one in the evening, if you make it to finals. State is considered the “finals” of the competition season, as only a select number of choirs are invited). In the transit from warm-up room to the actual stage, we passed a hallway and saw Mr. Williams standing there with the Ambassadors, all of whom were dressed in pink. They started yelling and cheering for us. Emboldened, we performed with sharp movements and even clearer harmonies. Three hours later, the Accents sat in the bleachers anxiously awaiting the results with our competitors. We had to wait at least another hour for the awards program to even begin. The tension built at each passing minute, as my friends and I gripped each others’ hands and made scared, silly faces for the camera. When the announcer listed off the winners, he started at last place and worked his way up to fourth. He then listed off the caption awards: best visuals, best vocals, etc. At this point we were breathless and ready to explode with nerves. Third place: not us. Second place: not us! At this point we knew we had won, but we had to keep ourselves from cheering in order to give the other choirs a chance to celebrate. Then first place: the Carmel High School Accents!!! I began to cry out of sheer happiness and shrieked as I hugged my friends. We had won the State title for my senior year. It had been a close battle, but we had won.
Who was your favorite teacher at this high school and why?
I can’t pick just one. I’ve had too many excellent teachers, each with a different lesson to teach. Mr. Streisel, my newspaper adviser, has become a true mentor after four years of being in the HiLite room almost every day. He’s not just a teacher; he’s a friend. In Honors Block, Mr. Bardos taught me to be excited about history. Miss Borto whipped my essay writing skills into top-notch shape. The sense of intellectual community from that class was just incredible. From AP Calculus BC, Mrs. Freed is truly dedicated to her students and somehow made calculus fun. Mrs. Conrad, or Mama C as we call her, has taught the Accents the art of stage presence and grace in the face of victory or defeat.
What suggestions do you have for incoming freshmen, as well as current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors?
The Pathways is the most invaluable tool you have–block out your time into hours and plan as much of your day as you can. Grades are incredibly important, yes; but don’t let scholarly achievement become your self-identity. They should reflect onto you, but you shouldn’t base your self-opinion on your performance in the classroom alone. Incoming freshmen: get ready for four of the most exhilarating, happy, rewarding years of your life. Get ready for stress, tedium, frustration and drama, too. Laugh when it gets to be too much to handle. There is life after high school. Don’t worry if not everything goes perfectly. Don’t plan your activities or coursework around what you think colleges want, or even what this distinguished graduate program wants. Do what you want for yourself. You’ll be happier in the end. And of course, don’t forget that you only take with you what you leave behind.