Ashdown High School 2024 Senior Perspective

Reflecting on my years at Ashdown Public Schools, I can't help but feel a deep sense of gratitude and pride for being part of such a nurturing and empowering community. From elementary to high school, the journey has been filled with invaluable experiences, personal growth, and countless memories that have shaped who I am today. Looking back from today, I see how much growth they have provided me, how much confidence they have instilled in me, the passions they have allowed me to uncover, and the sense of purpose I have now found through self-discovery. As I write this, I am thinking about some of the titles I have gained over the past few years: class president, Arkansas youth governor, Valedictorian of my class, and most recently, an incoming student at Harvard University. The most constant factor in my life that has allowed me to achieve these things has been the support of Ashdown Public Schools, through my teachers, peers, and the administration, as well as the support and foundation I have through my community.

I believe the one factor that Ashdown Public Schools has provided me that has resulted in these tremendous successes has been the loving and devoted teachers and staff who care for the students. I can confidently say that every single teacher I have had deeply cares about me and is invested in my academic and personal success. The teachers at Ashdown constantly go beyond mere teaching; they truly focus on the individual needs of every student, helping them to learn and grow. I think back to some of the teachers who have helped me the most—Mrs. Silva, our medical teacher who has always been there to offer me advice and support me in every endeavor; Mr. Cross can always make me laugh and has helped me find my passions in government and law. Mr. Hopkins is one of the best teachers, poets, and inspirers I know, as well as Mrs. Pierce, who somehow impossibly makes math a tad enjoyable, and the countless others I didn't mention. It truly is the teachers that make Ashdown so special. They give their all, helping with numerous projects to better the school community, giving up their free time to ensure students are doing their best, and ensuring Ashdown Schools is the best it can be.

Another remarkable aspect of Ashdown Public Schools is the extensive range of clubs and extracurricular activities available to students. These programs cater to diverse interests and talents and help foster innovative, well-rounded educational experiences for every student. I have had the privilege of being involved in several of these programs, each of which has significantly contributed to my personal and academic growth. Some of the most impactful for me have been my involvement in SkillsUSA, Future Business Leaders of America, National Honor Society, Beta Club, and Student Council. One of the newer programs that we have started at AHS is our Student Voice Advisory Group, which consists of school leaders from a variety of student groups who come together to identify and solve issues on campus. In the last two years, our group has been working on building a mental health initiative for the high school after noticing the pervasive challenges of student mental health issues. What has been most inspiring is the deep care and empathy students have shown throughout the work and being willing to solve these issues affecting so many. It shows the kind of culture and environment that Ashdown Schools have. One of support, compassion, kindness, and ensuring success for all. The support of the group is seen throughout all of the students, teachers, staff, and administration, showing how far the culture of AHS goes and how the values of the school exist in every single individual there.

I believe one program in particular truly helped me the most throughout my time at AHS, and that was our peer tutoring program. I had the privilege to serve as a tutor in the program and help countless students achieve success in academics and build confidence in their abilities. As a tutor, I grew in so many ways as well, learning how to be a better listener, how to support others, and how to build my understanding of empathy. I am so grateful that Ashdown Schools goes above and beyond to support students in these ways, especially with the support of the teachers who devote their time to the program. It has helped not only each student who benefits from the support in learning but also each tutor who volunteers their time to help others. These relationships serve as the foundation for the sense of community present at AHS. Students feel comfortable asking for help because they know there are those willing to help. That feeling of connectivity and community is so hard to find today and one of the things I am most grateful for Ashdown for providing me throughout my educational journey.

That sense of connection and support also translates to the incredible community we have that supports our school in every possible way. I truly believe I would not have achieved what I have today if I were anywhere else. My community has supported me, cheered me on, and helped me develop into who I am today. From the incredible parents of our students to the community leaders, they all devote their time, energy, and money to make sure our school system, activities, and programs have what they need. Especially for me, they have always supported me for far away trips for competitions with SkillsUSA and FBLA. They will always show up when we need extra help for any program or fair and never cease to give to our students; from countless scholarships to school supplies, they make sure we are taken care of. Without the incredible support of the Ashdown community, our school would not be the success it is today. Their dedication has profoundly impacted every student who has attended Ashdown, ensuring we all have the resources and encouragement to thrive.

Without a doubt, it is through the incredible support of both Ashdown Public Schools and the Ashdown community that I have achieved the success I have. Thanks to every single teacher, peer, administrator, community leader, my family, friends, and God, I have been put on this incredible path. I will be forever grateful for this amazing school that has allowed me to grow and develop into who I am today and given me so many excellent opportunities. And for that, I say thank you. Thank you, Ashdown, for twelve incredible years, so many friends, outstanding teachers, and the Panther community that will support me for the rest of my life.


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