Seniors say goodbye

Students explore future career options by listening to guest speakers from their prospective professions. Photo by Amy Blevins.

Students explore future career options by listening to guest speakers from their prospective professions. Photo by Amy Blevins.

Abby Kempf

As seniors leave RBHS they are looking onto many obstacles, tackling college decisions, fretting over sky-high tuitions, and deciding what career they wish to pursue. The RBHS family has helped students make these big decisions, along with ensuring students have a fun and memorable high school experience to look back on.
[tabs] [tab title=”Seniors reminisce”]As events stand out from the millions of other people have experienced, their brains record the moment as their neurons code the sights and feelings they take in, allowing them to recall the event in the future.
Later they might desire to re-experience these stored memories. Their brain kicks into gear, relaying the long strings of neural patterns. Scientists call this phenomenon the act of recalling, but laymen commonly refer to it as remembering.
When senior Whitney Cravens reaches into the crevices of her brain’s memory center to retrieve the senior prank pulled at RBHS, her brain replays some of her favorite neural patterns.
“During my sophomore year there was a senior prank that was pulled. It was the bike, walk and wheel week, and they made it bike, walk and ride day. They brought a bunch of scooters and bikes and wheeled vehicles, and they were all just riding around the school,” Cravens said. “There was even a car, and none of the administration cared, and everyone was just having fun at Rock Bridge.”
Cravens said she loves the laid-back nature of RBHS and the faculty’s desire for all the students to have a fun, meaningful high school experience. This lifestyle has allowed Cravens to relish her time in high school and share boisterous moments with her classmates.
“For Golden Cow when we did try-outs and the people that ended up winning, the Milk-men, when they tried out we were very apprehensive of their performance because it was kind of ‘dirty’ and all that,” Cravens said. “But they ended up just killing the competition. It was so much fun to see them perform, and they got to do it in the assembly, too. It was just kind of cool that Rock Bridge let them do that at the assembly.”
RBHS is known for the talented and outgoing students who are not afraid to get up on stage, like the Milk-men. Senior Hannah Sage, who is one such student, has been a member of the Satin n’ Lace Show Choir for the past two years and was a tech her sophomore year. Sage said she will always remember show choir competitions filled with makeup, frilly costumes and, in the end, tears.
“One of the memories I think I am always going to have with me is my last Show Choir performance. Right after my show, before City Lights went on, we had some time between the shows,” Sage said. “My best friend Jon and I just kind of stood back stage while everybody else was talking and discussing the performance. He sang one of my favorite songs and just held my hand while I cried for a while, and it was really great because I don’t know what I would have done if I had never met him through Show Choir.”
Not only are the performing arts at RBHS distinguished, but the sports’ programs also have legacies to uphold. One team that continually competes well is the cross country team. Senior Evan Schulte, a varsity long distance runner, watched his team stomach losses and revel in astounding wins.
“With about 1k left, someone said Caleb was winning, and at that point I knew we could win. And after the race hearing Blackburn tell us we won was an indescribable feeling for all of us. We were ranked number one the whole season and many people thought we were the best team the state had,” Schulte said. “The pressure was on us the whole season, so it was a huge weight off of our shoulders knowing that we had accomplished a goal that we’ve had for a long time. All seven of us [varsity cross country boys] were really close, and it’s a memory that we will share for the rest of our lives.”

Senior Evan Schulte runs during a cross country practice. Schulte has enjoyed his time on the team and the friendships he has made.
Friends are what truly make the high school experience unforgettable. Whether students met their best friends on the field, singing, or at a school-wide event, each student connected with someone who made their high school experience a little sweeter.
Leaving friends and family and venturing into a world full of uncertainties is hard for everyone, some more than others. While Cravens treasures her memories of RBHS, she is eager to make new memories at the University of Alabama.
“The hardest part is going to be not knowing anybody when I get there, and I can’t just drive home anytime I want. The University of Alabama is 11 hours away, so it’s going to be impossible to just make weekend trips,” Cravens said. “I am going to miss the funniness and culture that makes up Rock Bridge.”
What are some of your favorite high school memories? 
[/tab] [tab title=”After the final bell”] Making the choice to leave or stay home is, for many high school seniors, the biggest decision they will encounter.
Big colleges bursting with opportunities are found a few feet from home; others are 1,000 miles away. A UCLA study reveals colleges’ academic reputations, percentage of graduates who get good jobs after graduation, financial aid, campus visits and tuition costs greatly influence students when they plan the next four (or more) years of their lives.
“I basically knew from really early on that I didn’t want to stay in Columbia for college just because I’ve lived here all my life and there are other places to be,” senior Katy Shi said. “So when it came down to if I got into schools elsewhere and it didn’t cost that much money, I was going to choose other schools.”
Counselor Rachel Reed sees the complication of the decision and the multiple facets of choosing a college when students come to her for guidance.
“There is not one [deciding factor] that is overall, it’s really sort of an individualized process. A lot of students are worried about getting scholarships and affording the places that they go. Most of our students are applying to MU either because they have family who work there, so they get a discount, or just because it’s in our own backyard,” Reed said. “It just depends on what a student is looking for in a school. Do they want something more selective? Do they definitely want to go somewhere out of town? Do they want … something bigger? Do they want something smaller? Do they want to go into a certain career area so they are trying to find a school that fits with their major and what they want to study? It just depends.”
Senior Advanced Placement student Joanna Zhang has always strived for good grades in hard classes. Her mentality to succeed under pressure, her GPA and her desire for a rigorous and substantial education influenced her decision to mostly look at selective colleges. She applied to seven different, high stakes schools. The process was exhausting, she said, but her preparedness helped her.
Her endeavor was not cheap, either. College applications fees are normally around $35, but there are prestigious colleges that have fees that are up to $85.
“It’s time-consuming and stressful. But it was a lot better than it could have been because I started working on [applications] before school started so that kind of alleviated a lot of stress,” Zhang said. “During the fall it was cross country season, so it was really busy, so starting a little bit before was better.”
Zhang was not just ready for the battle beforehand, but she also made sure her work was the best it possibly could be before she sent it away to be read by the harshest graders, college admission officers.
“It was a lot of essay writing. I let my friends read my essays and then asked Mrs. Weaver, the EEE teacher, to read them,” Zhang said. “I sent her copies of the essays, and she would edit them and give them back to me.”
After the process was finished, all that was left to do was wait. The results reflected Zhang’s supreme planning skills; she was accepted to two of her top colleges, Princeton and Duke. She struggled deciding between the two; both were excellent universities that offered her exciting possibilities.
“I talked to a lot of students, three or four students, currently at Princeton who are some of my sister’s friends,” Zhang said. “Then I went to the preview weekend this last weekend and that really solidified my decision because I really enjoyed it.”
While Zhang is traveling to the East Coast, senior Joshua Baumer is attending Missouri University of Science and Technology in nearby Rolla, Mo.

“It just depends on what a student is looking for in a school. Do they want something more selective? Do they definitely want to go somewhere out of town?” Counselor Rachel Reed”

“I didn’t want to be at home, so my parents won’t be there to tell me what to do,” Baumer said. “But I love my family, so it will be nice to be able to come home, but I am excited to be on my own.”
Instead of making his college decision based on academics, senior Jason Keihne made his choice from an athletic standpoint. His experience was far from stressful because of his laid back and open-minded nature, along with his clear desire to wrestle at a collegiate level.
“I mean I was pretty open to different places,” Keihne said. “One school I really wanted to go to didn’t have wrestling. I just decided I’d rather wrestle than that.”
Keihne finished this season ranked 8th in state, so finding a college with a wrestling program that wanted him was not hard to come by.
“I applied to five, six different colleges. First I called the coaches and told them I was planning on wrestling, and they said, ‘O.K., we want you.’ So I went online and applied to their college and waited,” Keihne said. “It was about a month, and then I got accepted. Then I went and visited the college, talked with the wrestling coach, talked with all the admissions, figured out my financial aid offer and then decided which college I wanted to go to based on that.”
Distance was also a key factor in his decision.
“I wanted to go somewhere far from home, so I won’t have my parents yelling at me the whole time, but I didn’t want to go too far away so that I can’t get their help,” Keihne said. “Four, five, six hours away was around the time period I wanted to be.”
After the entire process was finished, Keihne had made his choice, Simpson College in Iowa. The distance was right. Their wrestling program was awaiting his entry. Keihne had found his “perfect match.”
What will/has affected your college decision? Are you scared of leaving home, or anxious to get away?
[/tab] [tab title=”Looking beyond college”] After students spend months applying, making the grueling decision of which college to attend and mentally preparing themselves to go to a place where everyone will be a stranger, students also have to choose what to major in.
While some students simply don’t know and might choose to be undecided, others know exactly what career path they would like to chase because they took a specialized class at RBHS. With a plethora of Advanced Placement classes and Columbia Area Career Center classes offering real-world experiences, students often find a topic that ignites their interest.
Senior Subah Mohua has wanted to be a teacher ever since she was little, but her experiences at RBHS sparked her passion in a specific subject area.
“I’m going to Mizzou, and I am going to major in secondary education,” Mohua said. “I knew that I wanted to be a teacher and just the classes that I did take through Rock Bridge helped me narrow what subject I wanted to teach. I decided English.”
Mohua took advanced English classes, and encountered rich literature that captivated her attention. She found her knack in crafting the different essays she learned to write in AP.
“Honestly, I really liked AP World and the honors English part of it,” Mohua said. “I just thought it was really fun and then I guess AP U.S. was also really similar to it.”
Mohua is also a member of the Intersection core group of Rock Bridge Reaches Out. Members of the club travel to the Intersection building across from Hickman High School to work with children after school and teach them life lessons they may not be getting at home.
“It was more of teaching younger kids what to do and what not to do,” Mohua said. “It still kind of sparked that teaching aspect of it.”
In addition to participating in the club, Mohua was also Neal Blackburn and Katherine Sasser’s teacher’s assistant for AP World this year. Mohua picked to work with this class specifically because she enjoyed her experiences with Sasser, loved English and appreciated the advanced nature of AP World. While the class was a lot of work, helping was eye opening for Mohua.
“It has been a lot of grading papers but I guess I should get used to that,” Mohua said.
While Mohua plans to pursue teaching, senior Charlie Gan intends to major in environmental engineering at Georgia Tech to study the challenges that must be overcome to promote a clean and functional environment for everyone.
Gan found inspiration for his major in AP Environmental Science. The class taught Gan about the Earth and all the issues humans create for the planet, along with solutions to these problems.
“It was one of my favorite classes. We learned a lot [about] how to use different resources and how potential waste could be very harmful to humans and ways to conserve energy,” Gan said. “We learned how to build more efficient housing and buildings and such, and it was really interesting.”
This class has not only gifted Gan with his college major, but a clear future plan. Gan knows exactly what career he would like and what the next ten years of his life will entail.
“I was interested in going to volunteer with the Peace Corps after college. So I was going to help with resource management and bringing fresh clean water to certain places, third world countries that don’t have a clean supply of water,” Gan said. “I felt like that is a basic need that everyone deserves.”
Senior Sarah Ashbaugh also fell in love with the sciences while attending RBHS. Next year she will attend Grinnell College and major in biology with a concentration in neuroscience.

“We have a lot of fun learning it because you get to a point where you’ve been learning generalities and finally it’s like ‘Oh that’s why that works that way’.” biology teacher Kerri Graham  ”

“AP Biology was one [class] that definitely sparked my interest in majoring in biology. It was an amazing course. I think what attracted me to it is I like examining the microorganisms in your body and in plants,” Ashbaugh said. “It kind of helps to explain why things happen the way they do, and I think that is why I was personally very interested in that class.”
Ashbaugh discovered what the world of biology was really like with hands-on experiments. Her favorite experiments included one with brine shrimp and another with gel electrophoresis. It taught her more than how to mindlessly memorize facts.
CACC and the AP classes offered at the school introduce students to fields of knowledge that allow students to have extensive background information in college and helps students make hard decisions between subject areas.
AP Biology teacher Kerri Graham sees how pertinent information in her class is to students pursuing science careers.
“I love teaching AP Biology. Honestly, I would say there is still memorizing facts; however, I feel like the students who take it plan on going into science or will be able to use the information in some way so it becomes relevant to them because it is a stepping stone to ‘I need to know this information so I can do this next step in biochemistry’,” Graham said. “So the information becomes relevant because of where it is going to get them past the class.”
Graham said her job is so fun because she gets to watch students become excited about learning and begin to use memorized information while going deeper in the subject, rather than just spurting out facts. This active use of knowledge helps students realize what they want to pursue.
“We have a lot of fun learning it because you get to this point where you’ve been learning generalities and finally it’s like ‘Oh, that’s why that works that way,’” Graham said. “Sometimes a lot of connections happen and you see a lot of bulbs go off as to why we do certain things. I think that is where the relevance truly is.”
Have you taken classes at Rock Bridge that sparked your interest in a certain career path? Which classes?
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