Senior Column: Multimedia Director reflects on opportunities, mistakes

In+the+image+above%2C+a+digitally+constructed+photo+by+Multimedia+Director+and+senior+Caleb+Audia+is+shown.+Photos+of+Audias+friends%2C+family+and+senior+photos+are+displayed.+I%E2%80%99m+glad+I+wrote+this+one%2C+Audia+said+in+the+column.

Caleb Audia

In the image above, a digitally constructed photo by Multimedia Director and senior Caleb Audia is shown. Photos of Audia’s friends, family and senior photos are displayed. “I’m glad I wrote this one,” Audia said in the column.

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Senior year is finally coming to an end. Emotions are begging to flow at a more rapid pace, and it’s finally setting in that we seniors are no longer children. While I’ve never really been a fan of writing reflective columns, as I feel as if opening up the bottle that holds my inner thoughts and ideas is a way of paying tribute to a past, I’m glad I wrote this one.

While in the style of a guide for underclassmen, I feel as if everyone could benefit from reading this tribute and guidebook for my time in high school. Many people don’t think about leaving their families and the effect that past actions have. Completely shifting from a young freshman who wasn’t planning on going to a university, to a senior who accepted an appointment to the most prestigious military school – it’s very clear that plans and interests do not always last.

Unique Experiences

My close friends never see the end of this, but I think it’s important to highlight. Not many people can say they have ridden a roller coaster before it had opened, but I can for Universal Studios’ Jurassic World VelociCoaster. Two launches, a top speed of 70 mph, four inversions, a dozen air time moments, a 155-foot drop, a 100-foot zero-g stall and only a lap bar – this ride forever changed my life. The reason why I’m highlighting all of this is not to do some type of promotion for Universal, but more so to highlight the details of this ride and its importance in my self-growth.

I used to be so afraid of roller coasters, and nearly everything in general. But as you’ll find out throughout high school is that when an opportunity to present to you, despite what it may entail, you never turn down a good opportunity. Especially if it involves riding a world-class attraction before opening day. I had no idea what to expect before going on this ride, other than I knew it would be frightening, to say the least.

As he stands underneath the VelociCoaster, Multimedia Director Caleb Audia looks for a photo. Audia has ridden the VelociCoaster 56 times, claiming it’s his favorite rollercoaster ever. VelociCoaster is located at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. (Caleb Audia)

My father and I were the first in our family to hop on it, and we were split up – meaning that for my first time riding I would be sitting with a stranger. Now, keep in mind that this was my first vacation since the COVID-19 lockdowns. But I will always and forever remember the energy that was felt in the queue line and in the ride station. People were laughing, clapping, dancing, giving each other fist bumps and encouraging everyone in line as they boarded the roller coaster.

Even with the toll of the virus still lurking over our lives, people that were there for the event were unbelievably thrilled for this ride, and it was the largest sense of unity that I’ve felt since the lifting of the lockdowns. Nonetheless, I will not spoil the ride, but it was nothing short of incredible, relentless, surprising and…oh what’s the word? Thrilling.

This ride forever conquered my fear of roller coasters, and here I sit writing this on the plane to the next contender for the “best roller coaster in the world” Iron Gwazi.

So, long story short, take advantage of opportunities outside of school that come your way. High school is not just for education, but it’s an important developmental stage in your life where you transition from a child to an adult. Trying new things can lead to great discoveries.

AP Courses

One specific piece of advice that I have is one that contradicts so many other senior columns. This advice centers around Advanced Placement courses. In general, I encourage students to take AP courses if possible given their schedule over Dual Credit courses. While Dual Credit is a better way to gain college credit for courses that you plan on getting out of the way, I personally found that Dual Credit courses can be oversimplified, inconsistent, reluctant to respond to student critiques and overall a hit or miss. AP courses, on the other hand, typically all run the same.

There’s a lot of reading, writing, tests, assignments and overall a lot of stress. But AP courses, in my opinion, give the largest reward. This reward does not come in the sense of college credit, but in the sense of self growth. Sure, I’ve failed AP tests for classes that I will not receive credit for in college, but what I learned from being in all AP courses are a variety of self-care and academic tips. If it was not for AP classes, I would not have learned time management, note-taking, ways to study and review and academic skills to the extent that I have currently.

Now this does not mean that I think AP courses and tests are perfect? In fact, I think it’s insanely idiotic to center one, specific test over the decision if an individual gets college credit or not. I firmly believe that College Board is a scam, especially in recent years, and it’s truly insane how much they’re profiting off of pure luck. But the truth that the stress that AP courses introduced into my daily life has forever altered my personal academic characteristics still makes these courses worth it in the end. Just be prepared for the end result to possibly be failure. 

Plans Change

As he stands for a photo, Multimedia Director Caleb Audia holds up an old photo of him. In the photo, he is wearing his grandfather’s Air Force flight suit. Audia recently accepted an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. (Caleb Audia)

My freshman year I wasn’t sure where I was going. All I knew was that I wanted to be a pilot, and I began to plan on skipping out on the college experience.

Boy, was that a mistake.

I allowed my grades in freshman and sophomore year to slip, and my GPA and class rank began to drop extensively. It wasn’t until my junior year that I realized that college was the best way to continue my education, and have a more solid shot at being able to fly planes for a career.

It was not until I had the opportunity to tour Air Force One that I began to truly consider the military. I applied to the Air Force Academy the second the application opened, but I honestly had little to no hope. I felt as if my GPA, class rank and test scores were way too low for the 13.5% acceptance rate that highlighted the academy.

But the application was extensive. With interview after interview, congressional nominations, essays, fitness tests, medical exams and so much more, I felt as if each step that I completed, the more I was showing to the academy of who I was and what I stood for. After a long wait of nearly six months, I opened up my application to find the appointment letter that was delivered to me. Instantly, tears flooded my eyes and I burst into laughter and fell to the floor.

The relief that was lifted off of my chest was an experience like no other. College applications are not just a ticket into the next portion of your life, but college applications, especially if done alone, prove your ability to display yourself. While I may be leaving for basic training soon, and many people continue to question be as to why I am choosing the military, I am so incredibly proud of myself of the options that I had in front of me, and to be able to go to college, become my lifelong dream of flying planes, all while serving for this incredible country, is literally my definition of a dream come true. 

Politics

While a sensitive topic, especially with recent current events, politics is an unavoidable topic that will enter your life through high school. I became very political in my junior year. The pandemic gave me the extra time and exposure needed to research political parties, meet political candidates and identities, as well as look more at the world around me and study the cause and effect of policies and government intervention.

While there’s nothing wrong with finding your political voice, it began to overflow my life. All I would see on my social media feed were political posts and all I began to talk about was politics. Friends, teachers and family members were sucked into these shallow conversations that gave no meaning to my life. While I cannot remember how I escaped the wrath that was my political voice, I began to realize that it is okay for others to have different opinions.

Regardless of the subject matter, everyone experiences different upbringings, different religious backgrounds, different economical states and different lifestyles. What makes the United States of America so great is that we have the freedom necessary to have our ideas and beliefs. To make this story short, it’s undoubtedly important for you to find your political voice. Just respect those around you who already have – even if their opinions vary from yours.

Leaving Family

As he stands on a dive boat, Multimedia Director Caleb Audia takes a photo with his mother. Audia finished two dives in the Florida Keys. While diving, Audia saw an abundance of sharks, eels and stingrays. (Caleb Audia)

As seniors, I can confidently say that the majority of us are ready to leave home. But, it’s important to remember that the second we step away from home into our universities, military or into our career field, our relationship with our family will never be the same. For those of us who are going into the military, it’s important to highlight the rude awakening our families will receive with the communication barrier during basic training.

We will go from seeing and hugging and talking to our family members every day to writing them letters once a week in a span of hours. While basic training can last up to three months, going from that quick of a transition in communication is not easy on either side. Personally, I think this is recently setting in hard for me.

My little brother has become my best friend these past couple of years, and it’s really hard for me to realize that I won’t be able to feel the warmth of his hugs, hear his laughter from my jokes, see his smile from our conversations and watch him grow in front of my eyes. In a sense, I feel as if he is truly a part of me, and, when I step away, I am concerned that our relationship may never be the same. What makes this harder than it already is is that this step away from family is so crucial to the individuality of adulthood – it’s a task that needs to be done.

So, to underclassmen, please do not take your family for granted.

Lies of Senior Year

Forgive me if I come off as bland, but senior year is not perfect. I would not even call senior year fun. I can give back countless memories of my previous high school years in which I had nearly 10 times as much fun as what was given during my senior year. I do not know where this lie generated from, other than the depths of…well, you get the point.

Senior year was hyped up so much by friends, family, teachers and counselors that I was expecting this year to be the best year of my life, but this could not have been farther from the truth. Senior year is so incredibly stressful that it’s not even funny. From working to school work, staying on top of deadlines, applying for colleges, applying for scholarships, preparing for final exams and AP tests, getting senior photos, sending out graduation invites, required after-school activities, required senior events and meets, athletic practices, games, family issues, trying to get a decent amount of sleep and an impossible amount of more activities, it was too much to handle.

I had little to no time to even sit down for a half-hour TV show because I felt as if I was drowning in an endless pit of school and non-school related activities that seemed to always clash together. The bottom line is do not expect senior year to be easy. It’s better to go in with little to no expectations than be disappointed by false hope. But, do not worry – you’ll get through it. It just does not help that you’ll be commonly lied to. 

Special Thanks

To conclude this column, I’d like to highlight a special person who has done more for me than I’ve done for myself. Our Eagle Nation Online adviser, Lisa Roskens, saw faith in me my freshman year during a Journalism I class. I knew virtually nothing about how a newspaper worked, nor did I know any UIL rules or use AP format. But, somehow – and in some way – she saw something in me that I failed to see. She invited me to join our online newspaper, to which I hesitantly agreed – and, the rest is history.

She gave me a safe learning place, where I was not afraid to admit my little knowledge while working on assignments. Fast forward to the end of my junior year, and I was named the Multimedia Director for this school year. She took a kid who barely knew how to write in transition-quote formula, to which I actually recently forgot again, and produced a student who aided in setting up a JROTC program here in Prosper.

To Mrs. Roskens, everything that I have accomplished for our newspaper – and for our school – is a direct result of the opportunity that you gave me – one that changed my life forever. One that, undoubtedly, helped me achieve my appointment to the Academy. I am forever grateful for the selfless service you have showed me and the endless support you offered. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for you.

To Amanda Hare, your comedic approach to friendship and to leadership has stood out since freshman year when you would always get in trouble for playing Google’s ghost game. It was not until I got to know you on a personal level, that I truly realized how much of a hard worker you are. Awards are being thrown at you left and right, yet, you continue to still care about those around you in the midst of your busy lifestyle. I will miss our jokes as we part ways for college, and you’ve truly shown me how effective these personal leadership styles can be.

To Gabby Winans, we’re truly warriors. We survived Dual Credit Economics together, and I feel as if that only made our friendship stronger. You’re truly such a kind person, and I’m glad I had a person to turn to who had similar beliefs as me when in the midst of doubt. I enjoyed all of our conversations together, and the team would truly not be the same without you. I enjoyed all of your publications, and looked to them for guidance and ideas. Thank you for being that person to lean to when senior year was… well… acting like senior year.

To Christi Norris, we’re truly a mess when working together. Our characteristics make us such good friends to the point where I feel as if we can talk about anything at any time. You’re truly such a team player, and you are constantly building me up. I appreciate everything that you’ve done for me, and I seriously cannot get over your photography. Thankfully, we’ll be going to college close to each other, and we better visit each other if we’re in town. I cannot wait to hear about your time in BYU. Wishing you the best.

To Alyssa Clark, your compassion shines high in nearly everything you do. Even though we may disagree politically, you’ve shown me that politics is nothing short of an opinion. I specifically loved your article about bringing awareness to pit bulls, and I love your music taste as well. Keep doing what you’re doing in bringing out the good of the world. I wish you an awesome time in the next steps of your life.

To my other fellow ENO staff members, you all have pushed me everyday to be a better person and a better addition to the team. I would not still be on staff if it was not for you all, and I appreciate all the hard work you all do in ensuring the success of our newspaper.