My brother and I fought Iike heathens when we were younger. Our mom used to say we were the rowdiest, wildest kids on the block.
But now, I consider Justin, 22, one of the biggest influences in my life. If nobody else, it is his successes and mistakes that have taught me more than any other person. I have based many of my actions off of his, both negative and positive.
Mom and Dad divorced after just six and a half years of marriage, and although I was too young to remember, I know it was a very sad and difficult time.
Out of every single mishap in life, something good must come. My mom got remarried to who is now my second father, Paul Lee. But they would soon do something that would cause chaos in mine and Justin’s lives, and would also take us out of the spotlight…
Along came Austin, 14, and Maci, 9. Justin and I were sure we would die with two more siblings.
But, they turned out to be O.K. in the long run – I kind of like them now. They both live in Oklahoma so I don’t get to see them that often, and I miss them all the time.
Hold on, there. Mom wasn’t the only person who got remarried… Dad did too, to whom I also consider a second mother, Bobbie Jo Clingman.
Our family grew once more when Shelby, now 14, was born.
Shelby was born on November 6 th , 1995 with a disease called leg length discrepancy or (LLD), causing one leg to be slightly shorter than the other.
Shelby has taught me more than anything to be strong. She spent her childhood undergoing several long-term corrective surgeries, which paid off, there is now no visible difference in her legs. Nobody understands pain like she does, which has begun to rub off on me.
I spent my elementary and junior high days in Oklahoma. A month into my freshman year at Noble High School, my parents told me that we would be leaving to move to Arizona… In three days. My last day of school was our Homecoming day, and we lost the football game. Not so encouraging.
My older brother had gone to Basha High, so I figured that would be the best option for me. However, I was still very angry, upset, and irritated with my family for moving me away from the people I had grown up with.
They helped me fit in and find my perfect little niche amongst who would become my best friends and full-support in my high school career.
They are the most supportive group of people I have ever met. Leave it to them to make anytime a good time.
I’ve been friends with Suzanne Mouser for four years and I couldn’t be more grateful. I have known Kate Carlin and Robert Soares for four years and we just recently became friends with both of them. All three of the people have taught me how to bring out my SASSY side! I love three like there’s no tomorrow.
The Grove became like a second home to me; I was unable to stay away for extended periods of time. It was there that I finally learned that everything I needed could be found in Christ, if I looked hard enough and had faith.
The Grove would also lead me somewhere I would have never imagined I’d be.
The biggest lesson I learned in Africa was that I am truly lucky and blessed. It is so easy to take for granted what we do have, as we only focus on obtaining the secular things we don’t have. Travelling to Malawi changed me and my outlook towards possessions indefinitely. Children in the Mtsilitza orphanage regularly go without food or water for days at a time, yet still have such an undeniable joy that reverberates to everyone around.
Carrissa Jones quickly became my best friend, and for the longest time, we were inseparable, because I had finally found somebody who was so much like me; who had the same beliefs and interests.
We grew apart throughout our senior year, but it was because of my own stupidity; I was unable to find a balance between my friends at Basha and friends from church. It took me until just recently to realize how much I missed my best friend.
Carrissa and I have rekindled our friendship and I have found a better balance between friends. I owe Carrissa and her family so much for not forgetting about me when I had forgotten about them. I very much so consider the Jones’ a family.
Throughout junior high I developed a strong passion for music. I felt the need to share it with anybody I could, so I joined choir in high school. I worked my way up from honors womens’ into the high level classes Amphion and Ascende, Basha’s concert and chamber choirs.
Ascende performing at Boston College.
Amphion and Ascende recently travelled to Flagstaff and then Boston, Massachusetts to compete in Jazz/Mads and the Heritage Festival. The ratings didn’t matter to us, it was the chance to make music and to be together with friends away from home and school to make memories (and inside jokes) to last a lifetime! Amphion on the USS Cassin Young. Ascende in a stairwell at NAU.
Alex is easily one of the most talented people I know. Standing next to her for four years in choir helped to build an everlasting friendship with her. Of my whole high school career, she is the only friend with whom I never got in an argument. I know I can always count on her and I am extremely happy that we will be going to the same school next year. With Alex and friends at Harvard University. After performing at NAU.
Amphion, after performing at Boston College. Being in choir taught me how to be myself, no matter how crazy I am. It offered a vent throughout high school to help deal with the drama and tough times.
My junior year I became interested in improvisation and then in my senior year I took on theater . Playing a one-liner game called, “185”.
Improv was much more natural for me than acting, although I liked being in Jekyll and Hyde for my first play as a lead-role. But improv brought out the best in me, and helped me harness my natural ability of humor and crowd-pleasing. With the help and peer-pressure of my best friends, I auditioned for and joined the Sudden Impact Competitive Improv team my junior year. It was the best decision I made for myself in high school, and it helped me strengthen my already strong friendships with my new teammates. Pre-show warm-up The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The single most influential person I have ever met. AND NOW…
“ I am thinking it's a sign that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images and when We kiss they're perfectly aligned”.
Mike is goofy and fun and has helped me to bring out that side of me. He is also very intelligent, when he chooses to show it. I am extremely happy when I’m with him and he is, too. We plan on going to college together and well, who knows what will happen after that…
Mike has taught me what most others have failed at – “Everything will be okay”. It took me almost a year to believe him, and now, I live by his words, which remind me every day that I can make it through any rough patch.
Everybody always says we grow up too fast. I never believed them until this year. In just three months, I truly start life. I plan on attending CGCC for two years and then transferring to ASU to pursue a career in physical therapy.
I know that I have grown to be a strong young woman. I stand firm in my beliefs and would never change a day I’ve lived. Every day, I get closer to my goals of finding myself and being perfectly happy with the life and path that I have been given.
My high school years have been “jam-packed” with adventure, stress, drama, and obnoxiously fun days and nights. I’ve learned that people change, whether it be for better or for worse, and that it is vital to find a balance between school, friends, significant others, family, work, school, and life in general.
I am not ready to leave high school. I am not prepared for the complete ‘one-eighty’ my path is going to take. But I am confident that whatever choices I make will be the perfect decisions. For me. And no matter what happens, there will always be a light at the end of my tunnel, found in my friends and family.
MUSIC: “ Souvenirs” by: Architecture in Helsinki “ Bruises” by: Chairlift “ Being There” by: Faded Paper Figures “ The Sound of Settling” by: Death Cab for Cutie “ Everyday” by: Vetiver “ Spotlight (Twilight Mix)” by: Mutemath “ I’m Yours” by: Jason Mraz “ What Sarah Said” by: Death Cab for Cutie ALL PHOTOS: Compliments of mom, endless photo album searching, Facebook, and Google QUOTE: “ I am thinking it’s a sign …” by: The Postal Service LIFE: Mom and Dad Thank you.