Seniors reflect on their time at Bellarmine

As the class of 2022 begins their last semester of high school, their lives begin to move at a rapid pace. The combination of making their final high school memories, attending friends’ senior nights, landing their final grades, and deciding on their four year foreseeable future, make the semester go by in a blink of an eye. To force a hopefully meaningful reflection, I asked eight seniors to weigh in on their time at Bellarmine by answering the following questions:

  1. What has been the highlight of your senior year?
  2. What advice do you wish you had going into Bellarmine?
  3. How have you changed since freshman year?
  4. What was the best class you took at Bellarmine?
  5. What teachers and staff have been the most influential for you and why?
  6. How do you think your time at Bellarmine will impact your future? And Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  7. What is your best memory from your time at Bellarmine?

Executive Council President, Sam Abraham, is all about friendship this year. His senior highlight is “getting closer” to his friends and “making new friendships” since he would not be himself without them. Although Abraham is an ASB member, Sustainability Co-President, and active in the theatre, he was not always so involved. His advice to underclassmen would be to get involved since “you get the most out of Bellarmine when you find your ‘niche’!” Although Abraham “didn’t get any taller” during high school he has become more “mature and empathetic.” His favorite classes were AP Literature and AP Physics, and his most influential teacher was Mrs. Bridget Nuno. According to Abraham she has “the best Formation ever” and always supported him. He also notes that there is nothing like the feeling that you get when she calls your class “rockstars.” Abraham’s hope for college is to major in Law/English and use it to become a lawyer. He thanks Bellarmine for “a much better sense of who [he] wants to be and what [he] wants to do.” Like Katy Perry, Sam loves fireworks. His favorite memories at Bellarmine were the football games with the halftime fireworks shows. He felt love, gratitude, and pride to be a Lion during these moments.

Lewin Elep has too many highlights just to name one. He has enjoyed watching the relationships and friendships formed at Bellarmine, become lifelong friendships. Speaking of transformative friendships, they happened fast. If Elep knew one thing going into Bellarmine it would be “how fast the years actually go by.” His advice would not only have guided him relationship-wise, but also academically. Over the years Elep has taken notice of himself improving in work ethic and grades. He has “matured and focused” more on school, making him a better student. Elep has used his newly improved work ethic and applied it to his favorite class, AP Computer Science with Mr. Mike Schneider. The class was taught in an exciting enough way to guide Elep to his future college major. He thanks Schneider for preparing him for his career and Mr, Jacob Singer for giving killer advice for guitar gear. Reflecting on his time at Bellarmine, Elep’s best memories were “connecting with people and having fun at different club and sports events.” In ten years Bellarmine may very well have an Elep Hall if all goes according to his goal of landing a software engineering position, with wages tucked away in investments. Elep credits Bellarmine for instilling in him “good habits and a great mindset” not to mention confidence in himself thanks to invaluable connections.

Eucharistic Minister Sophie Gould has highlighted the Senior Pilgrimage retreat for being such a great memory for her senior year. When reflecting on her time at Bellarmine Gould wishes she didn’t put as much stress on herself about grades. With the help of the school she has “learned great skills that will help [her] in college.” She also now understands the importance that school doesn’t define everything. Although difficult, AP Psychology has been her favorite class as she is able to incorporate it into daily life. The science department holds a special place in Gould’s memories of Bellarmine because “they are so eager to teach” which makes it easier for her to learn her favorite subject. Ten years down the road she hopes to be working in the psychology field thanks to the Bellarmine community instilling in her “many different skills.” Despite a busy schedule, Gould looks back on sports games as her fondest memories at Bellarmine. She said that they are “some of [her] favorite events to go” because she can cheer on her peers.

Theatre member Kayla Jean Libago encapsulated her senior year highlights as “making new friends and connections with people” as well as being more comfortable with herself. After four years at Bellarmine, she wishes she had known and been encouraged to reach out for assistance. Since “no one would see you as weak to ask for help” and getting started on a plan to get you back on track is important. Libago said that “it’s okay to be sad, just try not to dwell on it too hard or for too long.” Upon self-reflection she admits she had “a lot of moments and struggles,” but took her own advice and learned from them. Libago has used her lessons to shape herself into the person she is today, especially when it comes to making “more knowledgeable decisions.” She has created an individualized balance, knowing her limits and what she can do to maximize her happiness. Libago said her favorite class was anatomy since it was “often challenging but it’s fun to learn about” since she enjoys it. Although a proud member of the Art Club, Ms. Jenny Phillips and Dr. Kelly Goodsell have been most influential for her. Libago thanked Phillips for her time during freshman year when she “saw [her] struggles and offered to help [her] without babying [her].” Phillips suggested different studying approaches and helped teach her that “you can get through things with a plan.” The pandemic wasn’t kind to many, but Dr. Goodsell was a help to Libago during this time as she helped her communicate with teachers and offered comfort. Libago knows her “experiences, efforts, and struggles” will continue to teach her lessons for the next 10 plus years, where she hopes to be a nurse practitioner. However, her goals don’t stop at being a nurse practitioner, Libago hopes to have a pet or two, but more importantly be “happily independent with all sorts of personal goals.” She hopes to delve into all kinds of hobbies like cooking, crocheting, pottery, and gardening. Libago can’t quite pinpoint one memory, but instead generalized her favorite moments. She said “all the people that have made it worthwhile and the times spent with them immediately come to mind, especially the people I’ve met or become closer with in senior year.”

Senior Class President and Marine Chemistry member Saul Kontos-Cohen has had a busy year, but still made time for football games. As a senior he was excited for the team’s successes, which made the games even more enjoyable. As you can tell by his introduction, Kontos-Cohen has quite the list of abilities, something that his freshman year self had not quite realized. He wishes he knew that he could “achieve anything academically if [he] really dedicated [himself] to it” and skipped the times that he doubted his abilities. Since freshman year he has embraced who he was and now feels confident expressing himself. Now as a senior, he is embracing his AP student capabilities in his favorite class, AP Psychology with Dr. Emily Andersen. Kontos-Cohen said the class is “engaging, intriguing, and there’s never a dull moment.” Out of all the amazing teachers he has had, Kontos-Cohen has been influenced the most by Ms. Shannon Casey. He is thankful that she “made sure to relate to her students on a very personal level” always with a welcoming feel. In Snyder Hall Kontos-Cohen shares loads of gratitude for the former Bellarmine teacher, Ms. Lindley Schmitt for her ability to make Calculus understandable while still caring deeply about her students. Soon enough Kontos-Cohen may be Dr. Kontos-Cohen if all goes well with his plan to venture into the medical sphere. If becoming a doctor does become a reality he knows that Bellarmine is to thank because of how he has been encouraged to be dedicated and accountable academically. You’ve heard it before and Kontos-Cohen wants you to hear it again: you are loved! His favorite memory from Bellarmine was “being a member of the Encounter Team.” Returning as a leader helped the true meaning click for him, which is something that will remain with him far past his time at Bellarmine.

Jennifer (Xiaoxue) Liu has a different approach to senior year— her high school bucket list. Her highlights include being the first international student at Bellarmine to be on the musical’s cast team, and making memories with friends. Liu only wishes she wasn’t afraid to try new things. She said “there are so many opportunities out there, and high school time is the perfect time and place to explore, to make mistakes, to grow.” Liu has grown in other ways too, like becoming more open to “things, people, and opportunities.” She has also seen growth in her self-worth and confidence. Liu’s favorite class is Ceramics, where she can relax and grow her patience. Her time in Ms. Brandy Lindstrom’s class has been influential in instilling confidence in learning her second language, herself, and her potential. From her time at Bellarmine Liu is thankful for becoming “a better student, friend, and person” which she knows will impact her in her encounters past Bellarmine. Simple things are often underappreciated, but not by Liu as her best memories are eating lunch and chatting with friends.

After the craze of the pandemic, Maya Pupo said the first day of school was her senior year highlight because she reunited with classmates. Four years before her senior highlight, Pupo wishes she knew how much faculty support was available. She said “it is important not to be intimidated when reaching out” since the teachers want success for you. Freshman year Maya watched the days fly by quickly, however now she tries to “enjoy even the smallest moments of high school” because of how fast they all went by. Her favorite class at Bellarmine was Sports Medicine because of “the hands-on experience in the training room” learning about injury evaluation. Despite the naivete of freshman year, Pupo’s time in Ms. Cari Harrison’s English class was influential. In class, Harrison encouraged her to be passionate and expressive. These lessons have remained with Pupo throughout her time at Bellarmine and have allowed her to stay true to herself and what she believes in.  Pupo’s plans for 2023 are not quite set in stone, but she knows she will continue to be passionate in whatever she accomplishes. She credits Bellarmine for allowing her “the opportunity to grow both educationally and psychologically” which helped her create a strong foundation for future endeavors. Pupo’s best memories at Bellarmine were homecoming football games, where she spent time with friends and supported the school.

Co-captain of the soccer team Peter Radovich is still awaiting his senior year highlight— the spring sports season. Balancing soccer and school has taught him the best advice: learn how to manage your time. Throughout his soccer seasons and school years, Radovich has matured, especially thanks to creating strong study habits. His favorite class is Personal Finance since it “helped him prepare for the real world.” Radovich has been lucky enough to have many great teachers, but especially cherishes Mr. Tom Larsen, his Ignatian Formation homeroom, and Mr. Jim Dempsey, head coach of the soccer team. According to Radovich, both have been “very supportive throughout all of high school.” Although he isn’t quite sure what life will look like in 10 years, he knows his time at Bellarmine will help him get there. Radovich will always remember Freshman Breakaway at Camp Gallagher as his favorite Bellarmine memory. 

Fan section favorite Henry Tebb said his senior highlight is “just being at an amazing school that gives [him] education and great friends.” As for his past four years, he wishes he wasn’t so reluctant to be confident, although he still believes he has become more mature during high school. Tebb thanks Mr. Tom Larsen who has been supportive through goal setting and personal losses, not to mention, taught his favorite class, Personal Finance. Tebb hopes to use those personal finance lessons managing his future career as a DJ. Overall Tebb’s most memorable moments are “retreats and encounters” that have molded him into the independent person he is today.

Lacrosse player, Capstone presenter and Black Student Union member Myka Truss is spending her senior year soaking up memories in her Ignatian Formation class with Mr. Mark Modarelli. She said, “it’s been amazing to see how much we’ve all grown during the past four years together.” Truss will miss the Mod Squad’s crazy debates and discussions. If she had to do it all over again she would have hoped to realize that she was not the only freshman who was a little hesitant and afraid. Instead Truss wishes she stepped out of her comfort zone sooner, which has changed her into a more outgoing and independent person. Her favorite class was Psychology with many people she had not talked to before. The combination of an amazing teacher and positive interaction with classmates made for a tight knit class revolving around an interesting topic. Truss thanks the math department as a whole for being so “engaged and involved” despite her own fears. She has even come so far as to tutor those who need help. Truss has found her future career at Bellarmine through the Capstone Program where she discovered criminal psychology. In 10 years she hopes to be working to change the criminal justice system, specifically focusing on inmates’ rights. Out of all the memories Truss has at Bellarmine, one moment with Mr. Rick Barnhart sticks out. When she broke one of her press on nails Barnhart “felt so bad that he went into his back office” and retrieved Elmer’s glue. His attempt to reglue the nails was ultimately unsuccessful, but the impact he left behind was meaningful. Truss said that the memory always makes her smile.