Seniors share how support gave them confidence

Liz Wayland-Stevenson, Journalism 1 reporter

High school is a place of a few years of growth for students. Throughout the years, people change. Students grow and grow, and then boom. They’re someone else. During high school students are either going to dread or look forward to the journey that lies after it.

“High school has allowed me to change into a whole different person,” said senior Sophia Lima.

Don’t be afraid to join things and participate but also take time for yourself.”

— senior Erin Jarman

You watch yourself change into a person you never thought you’d be. You gain confidence in more ways than expected and you learn to put yourself out there.

“I’m more confident, extroverted and I definitely have more friends than I used to in middle school,” said Lima.

Most high schoolers learn confidence as they grow and that is exactly what happened with Lima. She’s been with Oak Park since her freshman year and will be graduating and going to college at Mizzou to earn a Ph.D. in biology.

Knowing what to do after high school is very tough, even for seniors. But learning and exploring options is always a great idea.

Oak Park also has supportive teachers and counselors who will help students succeed and get to where they need to go.

“I’d have to say the teacher that has supported me throughout my high school journey is definitely Mrs. [science teacher Nequelle] DeFord.”

Lima has been in two of DeFord’s classes and says she’s been very supportive throughout them both.

The school also has a supportive counseling system. The past couple years with COVID-19 changing so many things with school, one of the counselors, Larry Katzif, has jumped through many hoops to make sure students get the help they need.

“I do my best to contact them [seniors] and really work through issues that may be barriers for their success,” Katzif said.

Katzif constantly works to make sure his upperclassman head in the right direction. He wants them to exceed their goals and help them get to where they need to go. Even if he doesn’t always know the way to do it.

“If they come to me and they want help with something, whether it’s a class or looking into colleges and I don’t know the answer,” Katzif starts. “I get resources for them and make sure they feel comfortable looking into their future, whether it’s college, or trade school or a career.”

As well as having a supportive counseling system, many seniors have supportive families. Mother Kristy Jarman is very pleased with the way her daughter, senior Erin Jarman has evolved throughout her high school career.

“I am extremely proud of her,” Kristy Jarman says. “She is an amazing singer, has the best dance moves, is quirky and funny. She’s an outstanding student and will make an amazing teacher someday. She makes me happy.”

Not only is Kristy proud of her daughter, but Erin is proud of how the years have gone for herself. She has goals set for after high school and knows how to complete those goals.

“I am very proud of my growth and my success process throughout the years,” Erin said. “I plan to go to MCC for free with the A+ program and then attend UMKC and become a teacher.”

Erin Jarman’s advice for the underclassman is: “Be yourself and do what you love, don’t be afraid to join things and participate but also take time for yourself. And don’t overthink things, it will all get better.”

Another senior wanted to offer her advice on involvement throughout high school.

“The most important advice to give an underclassman is to break out of your comfort zone,” said Lima. “Whether that be with certain friends you have, clubs, sports or organizations in general that you can join, break out of your comfort zone, you may find great things, and change into a better person, or the one you want to be.”