Trevor Andrews, reporter
Approximately 550 seniors are counting down the days before they officially become alumni of Grand Island Senior High School.
The class of 2022 is the first to have gone through four years of the academy style of learning along with seeing portions of their high school career cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, despite the challenges, four of those 550 seniors said their years at GISH would always be remembered.
Emma Smith, president of the National Honor Society; Chloe Holsinger, Student Council President; Casey Sorensen, stage and vocal leader along with state cross country qualifier, Juan Garcia look back fondly on their years as Islanders.
Smith said that one of her favorite memories was planning the Show Choir Kids Camp this year.
“The campers were running in on the second day without even hugging their parents. The group leaders were positive and came up with creative ways to engage the campers.
“Seeing all the planning and hard work create a smooth camp experience and a place for young kids to experience GISH Show Choir was the most rewarding experience I’ve had in high school,” she said.
While that was a positive experience for Smith, something she said that was a “constant battle” was differentiating her from the other Emma Smith at the school. She said that emails had been sent to the wrong person, other times the wrong person was called into the office, and even Smith had gotten the other Emma Smith’s scholarship.
Smith said that she found most of her classes easy until she enrolled in Elizabeth Butter’s AP English class.
“I had to stay on top of work, pay attention to the nuances of class, and pay attention to the work I was doing. I had to constantly reflect, think about what was needed from me and apply it otherwise I would not get the grade I desired,” Smith said.
Smith said that when she received her grade in the class it was “more sweet” knowing that it was the result of her hard work.
In addition to being involved in music, Smith also spent four years in the Student Athletic Training Program. She said that the program had made a special connection to her as Smith’s mom was the first student athletic trainer and her older brother was also in the program.
Casey Sorensen, said that he really enjoyed learning how to tap dance for the musical showcase during his junior year.
“Personally, I wish that I had auditioned for Mamma Mia my freshman year.
“It looked like so much fun, and now I’ve never missed an audition,” he said.
He said that choral director Jesse Labrie, had a major impact on him as a student.
“He has taught me how to use my voice and helped me get to where I am today,” Sorensen added.
He said the varsity show choir as well as the musicals were the most important events throughout his high school years.
“I love to sing and dance, and I could never forget the happiest moments of my life,” he added.
He said that back in elementary school he wanted to become a teacher, but after going through GISH he has decided to become a nurse and a choreographer.
Like Sorensen, most of Chloe Holsinger’s fondest memories involve singing, acting and dancing.
“My favorite memories are performing in the musicals and show choir and are the two activities I will never forget. It was the one place that I knew I would be happy no matter what,” she said.
Something that she said she wished she wouldn’t have worried about so much through her four years of high school was worrying about what people thought of her.
The teacher that had the biggest impact on her was Jesse LaBrie.
“He helped me grow as a performer and helped me realize what I wanted to do with my life.
“When I was in grade school I wanted to be a performer on Broadway. I actually still am pursuing that dream. Although it hasn’t been a straight line to where I am with my career dreams,” said Holsinger.
And what was her favorite fast food place?
“My favorite place to have lunch is Mongolian Grill because I can get a pretty big portion for a low price.”
Juan Garcia said that he was glad that he was able to go to the Nike Cross Regionals in 2019, to compete against schools from other states.
Cross country was the first activity he participated in, and he said it also impacted him the most.
“I met numerous people that helped me throughout the last four years and learned so much from them. I definitely wouldn’t have made it this far without them,” Garcia said.
Garcia said that he wanted to be a software developer back in grade school, but now his plan has changed and wants to work more with computer components.
“Now my plan in the future is to become a technician support specialist,” Garcia said.
Like Holsinger, Garcia said a tradition he developed was eating at Mongolian Grill.
“It turned into a nice tradition that I look forward to at the end of every trimester,” he said.