Senior Column: Executive Chief Operating Officer recalls high school journey, celebrates growth


Christi Norris

In a digitally constructed image, senior and Chief Operating Officer Christi Norris and her family and friends are shown. Norris has been a member of Eagle Nation Online since her sophomore year. “I would highly encourage students of any faith to dedicate themselves to the faith that they have,” Norris said. “For when life gets dark, it is often only faith and hope that carries us through.”

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I used to laugh at the people who said that high school could be the best time of my life. As a freshman, I’d scoff, thinking my life couldn’t possibly get any worse. 

And, yet, I think that they were right. I sincerely hope that high school will not have been my “peak” or the best time of my life, but these years have contained more valuable lessons and beautiful memories than I could have ever imagined. 

I was ecstatic to start high school. I thought that nothing could have been worse than middle school and that, finally, I would learn more and have more fun at school. I was dead wrong. My first semester of high school was probably the worst time of my life. I was that kid you feel bad for because there’s all kind of friends with them, but they don’t really fit anywhere. I slept through all of my classes and got straight A’s, but, trust me, that gets boring very fast.

I spent the days of my freshman year praying that my dad would get offered a job somewhere else so I could run away from my problems and my school. But, like all bad things, the loneliness and struggles of being a 15-year-old girl subsided and I found my place and my people – just in time for my prayers to be answered and have my family move to Texas after my freshman year. 

Although I had finally found a place I fit in in my school, I was thrilled for a new adventure that Texas would bring. Everyone told me that I would make friends fast due to my openness and friendly personality. However, my sophomore year was difficult. I made friends but didn’t feel like I truly fit anywhere, and struggled to catch up with the new and challenging workload at Prosper. My difficult and fairly boring sophomore year concluded with a mass quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which only added to the challenges of the year. 

One of the most prominent lessons I’ve learned from my time in high school is that things happen when you least expect them. And that’s exactly what happened when I found my “place.”

When the pandemic’s quarantine in Texas began coming to a close, my life suddenly changed. I got hired at my first ever job, working at a plant shop called Famous In Oregon, and I got a simple text that changed my life. I was asked by a girl from my church if I wanted to come over for a movie night. I hadn’t hung out with anyone in nearly three months, and, before quarantine, I was too busy with school and other things that I rarely spent time with anyone outside of my wonderful family. 

One of the most powerful and life-changing things you can do for someone is to invite them. This simple invitation that I received in May 2020 changed the course of my high school experience. If you know someone or if you don’t, ask them to come over or sit at your table or go out with you and your friends. You never know who could become your best friend, or how one simple text message can change someone else’s life – and even your own life.

From that text and that first movie night, I made some of the greatest friends I have ever had. I found a community within my church and my friends that made the monotony of my life evaporate. As I grew in my friendships with these people, I also began to grow as a person. I realized there was a lot I needed to work on to become the person I wanted to be, and I had the family and friends who would support me as I did. 

My junior year that followed brought just as much academic challenge as my sophomore year, but I no longer felt alone in my struggles. My friends and I would study together, have game nights and support each other in our ups and downs. The memories of my junior year could fill an entire book. But, it’s suffice to say that, as a junior, I realized that school was not as important as I always thought it was. As I began to put less emphasis on stressing about my success and more emphasis on being the person I wanted to be and doing my best without comparing myself to others, school became less horrible. I still delegated time and effort to my studies, but didn’t let it get me down if I struggled on a few assignments or tests. 

As they sign a “Y,” senior Christi Norris sits with her friends and family at a BYU versus Baylor football game in Waco, Texas. Norris will be attending Brigham Young University this June and will major in Public Relations. Norris will be a fifth generation BYU student. (Christi Norris)

As many of my friends from junior year graduated and moved on, my senior year seemed like it would be quite boring. But, as I said, life tends to do things you don’t expect. My “friend-group” may have shrunk, but I was blessed to learn the value of focusing mostly on a few close friends my senior year. 

My senior year has been one of growth, fun and self-discovery. I found new hobbies that I love, I grew closer with my family and my best friends. I worked really hard on becoming the best person I could be spiritually, socially, academically and physically, and, overall, I improved greatly. As a senior, I shifted my perspective from that of anxiety and a large focus on school to a focus on bettering myself and serving the people around me. I worked to spend less time scrolling on my phone and more time using it as a tool to lift others or putting more time into fostering in-person connections with people in my community. 

My high school journey often feels like a movie when I look back on it. There were times when I felt on top of the world, and times I felt like the world was against me. But, through it all, I was able to find my passions, develop my faith and get much closer to being the person that I want to be. I am so thankful for my amazing family, friends, youth leaders, teachers and community who walked these four years with me, and I can’t wait to walk the stage with you cheering me on.

I am so excited for the possibilities that come next. I will continue my education at Brigham Young University starting this June, and I will major in Public Relations and continue at school until I leave on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a year and a half.

I thank God every day for the trials and the triumphs high school has brought me, for, without them, I would not be who I am today. 

As this is my final opportunity to write to the students and community of Prosper, I would like to leave with you a few simple pieces of advice for life and high school.

There is no shame in leveling down

I started out high school with two very difficult years, and one lesson I wish I knew earlier was that, despite what you may believe, it is perfectly okay to take only easy classes or drop a class if it becomes too difficult for you to manage. The times I dropped classes that I was unnecessarily struggling with may have felt initially embarrassing, but, in the end, I was glad to have a lighter load and more time to focus on extracurricular activities and with my family and friends.

Be who you want to be

Throughout the last four years, as I focused on setting goals for myself and working to become the person I wanted to be, I was able to let go of things that held me back and grow as a student, journalist and person. It is easy to get lost in the time that you spend focusing on school,  jobs and other distractions, but if you take the time to work on yourself while you are still at home, you can leave high school feeling much more prepared for living on your own.

For me, a large part of this was shifting the focus of my life to be more centered around my faith. As I focused on my own spirituality and the ideals of my religion as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was able to feel more connected to the people around me while improving myself and my relationship with God and my family. I would highly encourage students of any faith to dedicate themselves to the faith that they have, for when life gets dark, it is often only faith and hope that carries us through. 

Be kind

This sounds so cliche, but be kind. It’s on T-shirts and billboards and bumper stickers – it’s everywhere. In reality, the simplicity of being kind to others can change entire communities. When you are kind to others, you feel better, they feel better and you do a small part to make the world better. If we are all just a little bit kinder to one another, we can truly change the world. 

I think that, ironically, Hannah Montana sums up my feelings about senior year best when she sang: 

“I always knew after all these years, there’d be laughter, there’d be tears, but never thought I’d walk away with so much joy, but so much pain, it’s so hard to say ‘goodbye.’ But yesterday’s gone, we’ve got to keep moving on. I’m so thankful for the moments, so glad I got to know you. The times that we had I’ll keep like a photograph, and hold you in my heart forever. I’ll always remember you.”

With love,

Christi Norris