Seniors: Advice from the Finish Line

This is the end. You walk across the stage, receive your diploma, and wait for the rite of passage to be over. The names roll on after yours until the very last letter of the alphabet and suddenly it’s official. High school is over.

Each year a new group of students graduates high school, sometimes leaving behind a picture with a favorite teacher, a few trophies or even an art piece to be displayed with pride each year. This year, as the class of 2019 recalls their high school experience, they leave behind a different type of prized possession: advice.

Thaovy Nguyen, senior, has won two awards for two separate art pieces, a place in finals for exemplary speaking on the debate team, and has even gone so far as to create a non-profit organization for underfunded art communities. She describes her favorite memory in high school as the first fundraiser for her non-profit.

Project Color founder Thaovy Nguyen and volunteers decorating trash cans to discourage littering

“At the beginning of my junior year I started a non-profit organization called Project Color meant to provide art supplies to students and schools without the funding to get it themselves. Last year we collected over $300 worth of art supplies from Lake Ridge students and donated it to Nathan Adams Elementary School in Dallas,” Nguyen said. “This is my most important accomplishment because it was the first evidence I had that I could make an impact outside of school.”

However, despite her achievements, it took Nguyen a while to find solid ground in a bigger school when it came to friends and participation. Furthermore, she recognizes there are details about her high school experience she wishes she could change.

“My biggest regret is probably that I didn’t join enough clubs or classes geared toward math and writing. It took me a while to accept that I was passionate about art and not the majors that are considered important like STEM. And because of that it took longer for me to find a group of friends that liked what I liked,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen’s biggest advice to freshman is to ensure they prioritize their time correctly as well as stay in their books and focus on the end goal which she considers to be their own senior year.

“Be on top of your game and prioritize your time effectively. In order to keep up with your peers, you’re going to have to do a lot of things early like take college classes and things. Handle your big things first and know your passions so you can relax your senior year and understand what you want out of college,” Nguyen said.

Willie Henderson, senior, not only helped start the Distinguished Gentlemen boys step team two years ago but he has gone on to become their captain. He has aided them in becoming two-time state champions and now hopes to lead his team to victory a third time.

Distinguished Gentlemen Captain Willie Henderson, along with team members Caleb Leeper and Adam Shaw (left to right)

“We had to get through a lot just to get to our competition in Florida and it was a real struggle just to raise the money for all of us to go but we put in the work, and got there and let our abilities show for themselves,” Henderson said.

However, beyond the titles and the awards, Henderson wishes he had focused a little more on the academic side of high school.

“I regret that I focused so much on fun in the beginning instead of focusing. If I could change anything I would go back and take more AP and TCC classes because I’m just now realizing my senior year that those are what help you in college,” Henderson said.

That being said, Henderson’s biggest advice to freshman is still to have fun and allow things that interfere with that fun to roll right off your back.

“There’s no point worrying and stressing over academics because nine times out of ten, things fall into place. But when I leave we’re going to need more distinguished gentlemen so if you do focus more on fun, this is where you’ll find it,” Henderson said.

Fred Bridges, senior, is most proud of being a member of the football team and being there to see them make it to state a few seasons ago, but regrets that he didn’t take school very seriously at first.

“My biggest regret is that I didn’t focus in my algebra class freshman year because I ended up having to retake it and it really showed me how not taking care of business when you need to can throw everything else off,” Bridges said.

As far as advice to freshman, Bridges encourages everyone to have school spirit because he considers the feeling a highlight of his time at Lake Ridge.

“I’ve loved every pep rally we’ve had. Personally I think being on the football team, makes the experience more fun but being involved in any part of the school can make it great. My advice to freshman is to get involved,” Bridges said.

As each school year comes to an end, so does the local school experience of seniors everywhere. It becomes their job to continue forward and move on to better things. However, while the school year is still in full effect, the wisdom they have collected over time may be able to aid new freshman.

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