Senior Spotlight: Haley Gardner


Senior Haley Gardner

Alexander Casares, Sports Editor & Copy Editor

Many of the seniors at John F. Kennedy Memorial High School have not had the opportunity to show their true colors due to the pandemic and being virtual for a majority of their high school careers. Haley Gardner is a senior who has participated in several athletic programs at JFK such as softball and basketball. She is a team player who always shows passion and stands up for what she loves. Her enthusiastic and lively personality made her one of the loudest and most energetic people in the student section at football games, which always kept the band, cheerleaders, and players electrified despite the scoreboard or rainy cold nights at the stadium. She has many aspirations in life in regards to her dreams in pursuing a career as a lawyer and having a family. Haley has become a very well-rounded individual throughout high school, hence why The Torch was thrilled for her to share some of her experiences as a student here at JFK. 

 What was your favorite high school memory and why?

I think my favorite high school memory was actually making the basketball team my freshman year. There were a lot of girls, and obviously as a freshman coming into high school, I didn’t know what was going to happen or if I was going to make it, and I did! Making the team was probably one of my proudest moments.

What was the most fun and memorable event to attend at JFK? 

It was definitely either the football games or the masquerade dance. At football games, the band used to go crazy, there would be dancing and everything. I would say the football games beat out the masquerade dance because the band just did their thing, always kept people entertained and there was always the student section cheering. Regardless of how many games we lost, we still always came out and showed our support for our team, our band and cheerleaders.

How do you feel the pandemic has affected your high school experience?

It has affected me a lot because in school, I’m a visual learner, not a virtual learner. I need to be in school, I need to have hands on paper and pen… old school type of school. I can’t do computers, I can’t do all of that. It doesn’t work. It makes it harder because you want to apply yourself and you want to get good grades but it’s hard to do that because you’re not being taught the way you’re usually taught. You have to adjust to a brand new learning style and adapt to that and it’s hard, it’s not easy. Some people might be fast learners and adapt to new learning ways quicker than others, but that just wasn’t the case for me. Going virtual was… crazy. It affected my high school experience a lot and now that I’m a senior, I figured we were going to be in school full year, but then, the new variant came around and knocked everyone down. Everybody was in quarantine from December to January, I’d say. Going back to virtual has messed me up because it’s hard to stay consistent and motivated.

What are your plans after high school? Do you feel prepared?

I’ll answer the second question first; no, I don’t feel prepared at all. However, my plan after high school is once I graduate, I’m taking at least 6 months off and I’m going to apply to a school in the spring semester in 2023, that way, I can get some money up, get my car, be able to pay some of my college tuition off and not be in so much debt. I either want to be a real estate agent or a lawyer, but I’m leaning more towards a lawyer right now because that’s just what my heart says. I might do real estate first and then go through law school with real estate on the side, but being a lawyer is my main priority and my main career path after high school.

Is there anything from high school that you regret or would have done differently?

I’d say pay attention… I’d really just say pay attention. You think freshman year “oh my god, high school!” you know, it’s supposed to be fun and partying and everything like that, and yeah, I went to high school parties, I did all of that, but I really wish I would’ve paid attention… like came into high school and actually read what I needed to read, do my work, focus on what I needed to focus on and do what I needed to do for myself. By not doing that, I screwed myself over because now it’s senior year, we’re falling behind on school work and COVID obviously played a major part in that, but I’m saying personally for myself, I could’ve applied myself more to the curriculum.

How have you seen yourself grow and mature as a person from freshman year until now? What about you do you think changed in that time span? 

Throughout my years of high school, I have drastically changed. Not even just physically like facial features and body… but I have mentally changed as a person. Freshman year, you come into high school and you think there’s so many older people. You’re the baby of the bunch… you’re coming into high school, you have all these grown girls, grown guys and you’re just like “okay this is new”, but as you’re going through high school, you kinda just realize that it’s just a repetitive thing. The only thing that’s different is the number. You go from 9th, to 10th, to 11th to 12th. Nothing changes in the four years. You’re doing the same thing for four years consecutively. You have the same classes, the same stuff, you do everything just slightly differently each year. I have matured as a person and I can say that confidently. I know that I have changed as a person because I don’t let little things get to me anymore. I don’t really pay attention to other people anymore and I don’t let them walk all over me. I used to be very scared to confront anybody and to start problems, anything like that… but I guess you can say high school kinda helped me realize that you can’t be [scared]. I just thought and took time to myself to realize that not everybody in this world is going to be your friend… you just need to do what you need to do for yourself.

Who or what inspires you to be better? 

I would say my dad. My dad has been through a lot and so has my mom. I just want to be able to do better and be financially stable to the point where money isn’t a problem for them nor my family. I want to make enough to be able to buy them things that they weren’t able to buy themselves and just take care of them because they have taken care of me their whole life so I feel like I need to return the favor. They inspire me to be better.

If you could give advice to your freshman year self, what advice would you give? 

Stay away from people and don’t try to branch yourself out and become friends with more people too much. Yes, having connections is good, and yes, talking to people is good, having laughs and everything like that… but you need to pick the right people to do it with. If you don’t [pick the right group], then it’s going to mess you up and you’ll get stuck in friendships that aren’t for you. If I could tell my freshman self one thing, it would be to just do you and do you for yourself and nobody else.

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?

Do your work… just focus and do what you need to do. Focus on your studies and focus on your work before you put anything else first. Focus on your sports, focus on everything like that. Don’t try to impress that senior boy because it is not worth it. Popularity and being known around the school is not important. Stay to yourself, do your work, play your sports, mind your business and go throughout the four years with no drama.

Thank you, Haley, for being one of many special students to partake in this years Senior Spotlight for the school newspaper. The Torch wishes you an outstanding rest of your senior year, enjoy the rest of these memories while they last! Best of luck to you and all your future endeavors, we believe in you! Keep being true to yourself.

-The Torch JFK