Senior Column: Graphic designer and reporter reflects on growth

Writer recounts high school experience


Nora Vedder

In a collage of photos that includes family and friends, a picture of senior Nora Vedder in her cap and gown stands next to text “farewell.” Vedder will attend James Madison University in the fall studying graphic design. “Moving to a school as big as Prosper was pretty difficult, especially since it was during my junior year,” Vedder said. “But, I got so many amazing opportunities and met really great people, which of course includes the staff of Eagle Nation Online.”

Moving is never easy for anyone, especially when you move during high school. The summer going into my junior year, my family and I moved from Westfield, New Jersey, a suburb of Manhattan, to Prosper. Junior year is typically very difficult academically, but on top of that, I had to adjust to a completely different school, with people in my grade that already had known each other for two years, in a school that is much larger than my old school.

I had a really difficult time adjusting last year. Westfield schools let out in late June. We moved out of our house two weeks later, and as soon as we got to Texas, band camp started. Marching band was also very intimidating for me to begin in a new school as I had to audition over a video, but also because a majority of my closest friends were on my old team, and I felt that I was leaving them behind.

I was still incredibly cautious about COVID-19, as well, as I had only just recently received my vaccination, and the quarantine restrictions in New Jersey were stricter at the time. I wore a mask to school every day, and I had longer hair, which, from the newfound heat of Texas, would become frizzy and could almost completely cover my face. Talking to others was minimal unless it was someone that was already talking to me.

Despite how much I found myself struggling with these big changes, when I do reflect on it, in just this year, I really have grown, and even more across my four years of high school. I went from being the “shy new girl” to cutting my hair and pushing myself to get involved in multiple activities, and in each, I have seen improvement in myself.

Marching Band and Color Guard

The activity that I have been doing for practically my entire time as a teenager, is honestly one of my favorite activities, and I can’t imagine my high school career or life without it. When I had my final performances for marching band and winter guard, it almost didn’t feel real.

My freshman year I could barely spin a flag, much less think about touching a weapon, but by sophomore year, I was on the rifle line (a wooden rifle, not a real one!), and spun all three pieces of equipment in fall and winter this year.

Last year, it felt like I was “the girl from a New Jersey guard.” I didn’t really talk much, and felt like a fish out of water, and frequently experienced homesickness, missing my friends on my old team. However, this year I was a captain, a role model for my team. I still keep in contact with my old teammates, but I don’t only talk about them like I used to.

I also became involved with the equipment crew for the marching season. Our show, “Sit Down, Stand Up,” included 80 chair props. Each one stood 7 feet tall, and someone needed to put them away after practice. I would also help with getting the color guard equipment loaded for football games and competitions. I got to know more people when I helped load equipment onto the trucks, and I felt like more people started to know who I was.

In my senior winter guard season, I felt that my passion for the activity really shined. I pushed myself to be the best I could be, and multiple underclassmen expressed how they looked up to me. I really could not have asked for a better finish to my high school color guard career.

While it was really difficult having to change programs, I really am glad I got to be a part of both of the guards and band programs.

Moving to a school as big as Prosper was pretty difficult, especially since it was during my junior year, but, I got so many amazing opportunities and met really great people.

— Nora Vedder, senior

Art and Community Service

My old school had a portfolio track, which allowed for students to go through four years of art courses each one becoming more advanced as the years went on. I will never forget my freshman and sophomore art teachers. Without them, I don’t think I would have improved as much as an artist.

I was in Drawing and Design junior year, where I had a little bit of extra time to improve some techniques, but I think I really improved in AP Drawing this year. I really pushed myself to create the best art I could, and for that, I have my teacher, Mr. Scott, to thank. Finishing my portfolio felt like such a big relief, and this year I have learned so much more about how to improve my technique and composition of pieces.

Last year, I also joined the National Art Honor Society, which allowed me to become more involved in the community through art. I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to be a part of the group, as it allowed me to get to know the community of Prosper much better during my service hours.

Speaking of service, I would also like to show my gratitude for the Family Resource Center, which provided me with a majority of the service hours I have, but also as a place that I can go to for support.

I would really like to give a shout out “thank you” to Colleen Kugler and Shannon Tibbits, who are currently the family support specialists at the center, and to Kristen Foster, who formerly worked within Prosper ISD and helped found the Resource Center.

Through Prosper, I also became certified in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator, preparing me for my career in graphic design. With the ability to take design courses that were more advanced, I really improved my résume, and had the great opportunity and experience of interning for Thy Agency, a graphic design company.

Art has always been a big part of my life, but I feel I now have a better understanding of design and have been able to use my art to help others. I am incredibly grateful that I will be able to continue pursuing art while studying graphic design at James Madison University this fall.

Eagle Nation Online

Even though I have only been able to be a part of ENO for one year, I am so happy for the time. My newspaper adviser, Lisa Roskens taught me in a Digital Media class last year, and she suggested I join the newspaper staff.

I didn’t think I would do as much writing as I did. I initially joined to be a designer for the newspaper, but after I wrote my first article, I found just how much I loved to write.  I try to write with as much quality as possible, and I think I have achieved that.

While I do love writing, I still upheld my role as a graphic designer, as I was the assistant designer for our print publication, “Eagle Nation Times.” I have really improved my skills in InDesign through being a part of Eagle Nation Times, and I prepared myself to exercise my design skills for the future.

I did UIL journalism, too, and it really helped my writing skills. Three of my articles have received Best of SNO awards, and two of my articles received the title of “Excellent” in News-Broadcast Best in Texas. In addition to those awards, I also earned admission into the Quill and Scroll Honor Society for my publications on both the website and in print. I didn’t realize that I was actually good at journalistic writing until I joined ENO, and I am so thankful to the newspaper for helping me find this talent.

I know that I will forever be grateful that I met Mrs. Roskens. She really helped me come out of my shell and helped me realize how I am talented in more creative fields aside from drawing. I’d like to thank her for everything she has done for me. Mrs. Roskens really has helped me grow over this past year.

Working on ENO has honestly been a dream. I’m so glad I got to meet the people on the team and have really been able to become more outgoing and show off my passions to both the staff members and our readers.

Final Thoughts and Advice

Recently I was awarded the Issac Craven Memorial Scholarship, and the Craven family, who presented it to me, emphasized a message of kindness, while also not being so hard on yourself. I know that I am likely my own biggest critic, but I think that everyone should not be too hard on themselves and that our existence matters even before our accomplishments do. I had the privilege of meeting Jerry and Nate Craven, and they are wonderfully kind, as is the rest of the Craven family. Receiving this honor and meeting the Cravens reminded me of how important it is to continue to spread kindness wherever you go. I would like to thank the Cravens again, not just for the scholarship but for sharing your strength, kindness and family – and for being wonderful people.

If I were to give any advice to incoming freshmen and underclassmen, I would say to try to enjoy high school as much as you can. Even if you struggle, you will find your people, or they will find you. Being in a new space with new people is far from easy, but wonderful people, will help you adjust. Some might be mentors. Some might be teammates, classmates or club/activity members. But, know that wherever you go, you will find the people for you. Being kind to others is always a good option, if you spread kindness, that kindness will make its way back to you.

Get involved in things (especially things like band and journalism). When you participate in activities, it gives you an outlet to talk to people to adjust to a new environment.

While I am sad to be leaving so many things behind, I am excited for this next chapter in my life. I’m going to take my own advice and trust that I will get involved at JMU and that I will find my people there. I won’t be so hard on myself, and I will continue to spread kindness to others.

Thank you to my family, especially my parents and brothers, for being there for me. This move proved to be difficult for all of us, but I think we handled and adjusted great. It will be hard being so far away from them next year, but I know that I will do just fine (and will definitely call frequently to catch up!) I can’t wait to see what my brothers will do in high school these next few years, and I’m so lucky to have such a loving family in my life.

Lastly, I just want to say, to everyone that was a part of my high school experience, thank you. I would have never grown to who I am now without you.

Best of luck to you and your journeys! May our paths hopefully cross again!

Signing off,