Standout Seniors 2024

Standout Seniors 2024

Titan Legacy asked Papio South teachers to nominate seniors who they believe stood out amongst their peers during their high school career. These 10 individuals were chosen as the outstanding seniors for class of 2024.

Morgan Bode

“This is one of my senior photos. I love all of my senior pictures because they are a reminder of my past but with a focus on my future. This particular one is my favorite because I really feel like my personality is shown in this picture.”

Activity Impact: Varsity volleyball has had the greatest impact on me because it had brought me some of my best friends, my greatest mentors, and I had the best times getting to spend every day with my teammates.

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Advice to freshman self: My advice to my freshman self would have been to enjoy where you are at and not try to rush things just because the future seems more enjoyable. You will look back and miss the days you are in right now, and they go too fast to not to enjoy every second.

Future plans: I will be attending the University of South Dakota to pursue a major in Secondary Education with a Mathematics Specialization and to continue my volleyball career.

10 year plan: I hope that in 10 years I will have a family, and be teaching math as well as coaching volleyball at a local high school.

Parting words: Thank you for the last four years. I truly wouldn’t be as successful as I am today without the teachers and coaches that make Papio South feel like home. 

 

Rebekka Dang

“This photo is a picture of me from the 2023 Titan Volleyball season with Taylor Parrack. Each and every one of these girls and coaches are my forever sister! The season taught me so much about servant leadership and the power of encouragement. A little bit of positivity goes along way, so remember to always smile and be the light!”

Activity Impact: Titan Volleyball, Leadership Academy, Health Academy and Young, Gifted and Black. All of these school activities have taught me many key values about the woman that I am becoming. Selflessness, passion, leadership and love are just a few of the many lessons that I have learned from each activity that allows for me to embrace and adjust to any situation or circumstance that comes my way as I pursue the path towards my future.

Advice for freshman self: If I could give one piece of advice to my freshman self it would be to get involved. There are so many great students and staff at Papio South that I cannot picture my life without and wish I could have met sooner. Getting involved in school’s clubs and sports has allowed me to absolutely shatter my shell and feel much more confident in the person that I am, a trait that my freshman self could not have related to.

Future plans: I plan on going to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on the Pre- Health track then to the University of Nebraska Medical Center to study Nursing.

10 year plan: In 10 years, I will be married and working in a hospital as a Trauma ICU nurse.

Parting words: Papio South will forever be a special place to me. I have made so many joyful memories, shed even more tears, and have absolutely broken out of my shell because of the students and staff that I get to call my family. Thank you, Papio South!

   “IT’S ALWAYS A GREAT DAY TO BE A TITAN!”

 

Drew Darnold

“It represents how much soccer has played a role for me in high school.”

Activity Impact: Show choir has taught me a lot of valuable lessons on how to work as a team and how to represent your school.

Advice for freshman self: Go to as many events as possible.

Future plans: Study Business and play soccer at Northwestern College in Iowa

10 year plan: I want to be in the wealth management field and maybe coaching soccer.

Parting words: Best of luck to all my peers in the future.

 

Sydney Horn

“I just love this picture because I’m with all my friends after three years of high school and we are finally seniors. It was such a fun morning, and I still can’t believe I’m already graduating.”

Activity Impact: Both volleyball and track have had a huge impact on me. They taught me so many lessons on hard work and dealing with stress and failure. I also met all my best friends through sports and got close to all my coaches.

Advice for freshman self: Be confident! Life is fun when you don’t care what people think about you, and when you aren’t scared to be yourself.

Future plans: I’m going to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study Mechanical Engineering. I hope to eventually focus on Aerospace Engineering.

10 year plan: I plan on having my dream job of designing planes/rockets while living in a cute little house in a small Nebraska town.

Parting words: Thank you to all the staff members here that let me get food from the front office; you will not be forgotten.

 

Parker Hylok

“This photo was with my best friend, Darrell James, who I met in Kindergarten. We have been side by side since we were 5, and everything came full circle when we spent our senior Homecoming on Court together. I could not have imagined a better way to end my time at Papio South.” 

Activity Impact: Soccer and FCA had the greatest impact for me. I really appreciated the ability to surround myself with people who want to head in the same direction as me. 

Advice to freshman self: If I could give one piece of advice to my freshman self, it would be to make meaningful connections with more people. I realized that you are constantly being surrounded by fun and interesting people who do all sorts of different activities. If you take the time to get to know people outside of your group, you’ll meet amazing people you never would have, and you’ll learn a lot.

Future plans: I plan on attending Johnson County Community College. I will attend a bigger four-year school after my first two years. I want to follow my soccer career as far as it will take me. I am focused on keeping the dream alive.

10 year plan: In 10 years I want to be fishing several times a week, playing soccer, and doing whatever I can to brighten the lives of people around me.

Parting words: Thank you for everything. I will remember these four years for the rest of my life, and I am so thankful for all of the wonderful people I got to spend them with.

 

Dade Larsen

“This was a picture from Homecoming Court with one of my best friends in high school. It means so much to me, because he pushes me to become a better Christian every day and is an amazing human being that I am proud to call my friend.”

Activity Impact: The high school activities that had the greatest impact on me were Basketball, Track, and FCA. These had the biggest impact on me because they helped me to shape my identity and connect with like-minded people. These activities taught me how to live my life for Christ, and what great culture looks and feels like. I will now strive to create this culture for other kids as I stay involved in Junior Titan Basketball.

Advice for freshman self: Use your class time wisely so you can have fun outside of school.

Future plans: After high school, I will be attending Metro for one year before transferring to UNO to pursue a career in Computer Science.

10 year plan: I imagine I will have a kid and a job as a software engineer. Living a happy and balanced life with my family.

Parting words: High school taught me a lot about who I am as a person and has shaped my life into what it is today.

 

Zaidah Lightener

“This photo was recently taken of me at a track meet, and I love it because the picture really shows how much fun I have while competing in track and field. Before the race, I had stolen my sister’s Ring Pop and was talking with my teammates about how funny it would be if I posed and stuck my blue tongue out after finishing the race and winning the 4×100 with my team. So when I crossed the finish line, I posed, and the pic was taken, and it just reminds me of how much fun I really have and that you don’t always have to be so serious all the time. And then I finished the meet off by absolutely destroying a bag of Skittles :)”

Activity Impact: For me, being a varsity athlete on the girls track and field team, because I’ve made a lot of friends there, and the culture has had an amazing impact on my character and who I am as a person

Advice for freshman self: Don’t be afraid to try new things. I was very scared to try things like DECA, because I thought it would be boring or that, since I was a freshman, it wasn’t going to be as inclusive because everyone was probably older than me. But it turned out very different, and I ended up doing DECA my senior year and winning state in Sports and Entertainment Marketing. So all in all, just try everything you really are interested in, and don’t live life thinking “what if.” You just have to do things to find out what you want to do. It’s all trial and error. 

Future plans: I am committed to a D1 college called New Jersey Institute of Technology, where I will be continuing my track and field career while studying marketing.

10 year plan: No idea, I’m just going with the flow

Parting words: Don’t let what people think of you get in the way of what you really want to do, live life laughing at what you did and take every opportunity so you can avoid saying “I wish I did that.”

 

Tony McGill

“This is from the Italy and Greece trip this past summer. Dom was our tour guide, and we ordered custom shirts to show our appreciation for him. It was really cool to experience the culture, nature, and food of another part of the world with some of my best friends. The view of the Greek countryside from that mountaintop was amazing, and I love that I could take it in with those three guys.”

Activity Impact: Journalism, Cross Country, and Track have had a tremendous impact on me. I am thankful to Ms. Albracht for introducing me to journalism and giving me a way to participate in an activity that combines my skills and interests. Journalism has been one of the brightest spots of my high school career. Cross Country and Track have given me a built-in group of friends that I can trust to push me to become better as much as I push them. Pushing through summer heat and freezing wind with my teammates is something I will never forget. Coach Stenger has also been such a positive influence in my life, really getting all of us to buy into the team-first mindset and push through hard weeks of training. Because of Coach Stenger and my teammates, I love running.

Advice for freshman self: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Loosen up, take things slow, get out there and be a kid. A couple bad grades here and there isn’t the end of the world, so don’t beat yourself up if everything doesn’t always go to plan. Put yourself out there and try to have some fun, because you only get four years of this. Stop worrying so much and take some chances, you won’t regret it.

Future plans: I am attending the University of Wisconsin to major in journalism and international studies. I also plan to earn a certificate in economic analytics. I plan to write for a student newspaper and join a running club as well.

10 year plan: I imagine that I will be a foreign correspondent for a major news network. I will still be checking items, mostly backpacking trips and foot races, off of my bucket list before I fully settle down into traditional adult life. I will probably live close to Madison after I graduate college, but I don’t know how long I’ll stay.

Parting words: Here, I always had something going for me. Whenever I felt stressed and exhausted from the academic demands of school, I always had something positive that gave me a reason to want to show up. Whether that reason was journalism, another class that I enjoyed, or meeting for cross country or track practice after school, Papio South always gave me something positive that I could use to encourage myself through the day. I am beyond grateful for that, and as I’m preparing for the next stage of life, I just ask that this school continues to give all students something that makes them love being a Titan.

 

Bennett Steele

“Growing up it was always my dream to play in the Monarch-Titan football game. I got a bad concussion my sophomore year, which took away my ability to play sports. I was only able to play two varsity games in my career. Being able to play in that one and represent my school was something I’ll never forget.”

Activity Impact: I think each activity impacted me in different ways, and all of them are special to me. I think Fellowship of Christian Athletes taught me how to follow Jesus with others on my teams. I think football taught me the importance of going through adversity and how to handle that. Basketball taught me how to serve, and to do it from a posture of humility. Hope Squad showed me the value in taking time to invest in yourself, and how to make a positive impact on those around me.

Advice for freshman self: I would tell myself to just trust the plan laid out for me. There are a lot of unexpected turns, but it’s all for a better purpose. It may be uncomfortable or difficult in the moment, but it’s a much better plan. 

Future plans: I’ll be studying secondary education at Kansas State to be a high school or middle school teacher.

10 year plan: I will probably be teaching and coaching somewhere. I hope to have a family, and to make a positive impact on those around me.

Parting words: Papio South helped shape me into the person I am today. So just thank you to all the teachers and coaches who poured so much into me.

 

Haley Walts

“This is a picture of me and my friends in the warmup room at our last show choir competition from my junior season. We were jumping and dancing around while screaming the chant we exclaimed before each performance. The photo is blurry and imperfect, but I love how it candidly captures the pure joy and excitement I felt in that moment, and in many moments like it. It was incredibly impactful to be a part of something where everyone was so excited to perform together. I love show choir, and I’m going to miss it so much!”

Activity impact: Show choir had a significant impact on me. It gave me a community that was constantly exciting and fun to be a part of. Hope Squad taught me the importance of speaking openly about mental health. It equipped me with the skills to check in on myself and provide compassionate support to my friends and peers. I’ve learned a lot from my experiences in Hope Squad, and I’m really grateful I’ve gotten to be a part of it. I’ve only been a part of Global Support Club a little over a year, but it’s been incredibly fun and impactful!

Advice for freshman self: I would tell [my freshman self] to relax and just live in the moment. It all goes by so fast, so I would tell her to just soak up and enjoy the present, instead of worrying over the little things.

Future plans: I’m headed to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study anthropology and dance!

10 year plan: I hope I have a job I absolutely love and am passionate about. I would love in 10 years to be able to say I’ve traveled to different places all around the world and have immersed myself in new experiences outside of the country. I hope in 10 years I get to spend lots of time with my family and friends, and all the people in life I love.

Parting words: I would say a big humongous thank you! I have so many happy memories from high school, and I feel so grateful for it all.

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