Born to run

The track and field teams competed on Apr. 21 at their district meet at Cypress Creek High School, finishing out their season

By Emma Diehl

With the track and field season approaching its end, the teams competed in their district meet on Wed., April 21. The boys placed third and the girls came in fifth overall.

Rahshad McClanahan (‘21) came in first for the boys 100 meter sprint, second in the high jump, and fourth in discus for the district meet. 

“The track meet went a lot better than I was expecting. I was second in high jump with a personal record of 6’1”. I originally chose to do the high jump event because my teammate Cole Castro (‘21) had persuaded me into doing it, after he told me I could be pretty good at it,” McClanahan said.

Sara Diehl (‘23), who placed eighth out of 21 competitors in javelin with a throw of 22.02 meters, worked to improve her sophomore season by conditioning before and during the track season.

“[For next year] I am going to start running more and conditioning, and working out in order to run and throw better. I want to improve for next year’s season,” Diehl said.

In his third year on the track and field teams, Dean Washington (‘22), decided to work harder to improve during his junior season by practicing outside of school. Washington placed 11th in triple jump, 16th in long jump, and set a new personal record of 59.22 seconds for the 400 meter dash, landing him in 14th place.

“Very few people were running it [the 400 meter dash], and I wanted to take the challenge. I improved by working out with a professional personal trainer and improving my technique,” Washington said.

With the majority of the team’s season ending after last week’s meet, athletes like McClanahan are left to reflect on their time in high school.

“My favorite track memory from high school was at Steinbrenner High School where I threw a javelin for the school record at 46.38 meters. My coaches helped me prepare by prioritizing one event at a time, to get the best I could at it as fast as possible. Whenever I had questions or needed help, they were there for me,” McClanahan said. 

Since the season has come to a close, the underclassmen have been left to prepare for their next season, and the seniors to reflect on their time as high school athletes. 

AP exams adjust to needs

By Amelia Marty 

<a href="https://www.vecteezy.com/free-photos/test">Test Stock photos by Vecteezy</a>
Pencil and eraser on answer sheets or Standardized test form with answers bubbled. multiple choice answer sheet

      On Feb. 4, 2021, College Board made an important announcement explaining that there will be two ways that the AP exams will be conducted this year: traditionally with paper pencil in school, and digitally at home. This decision was made because many students have made the choice to do online school in order to stay safe during the pandemic.  Given the option, online students are still prohibited to take the exam on campus on the designated testing day. 

   “Rather than offering a single testing approach that would serve only some students and educators well, we are offering a variety of testing options that reflect the unique characteristics of each exam and the preferences we’ve heard from AP teachers, coordinators, and school leaders,” AP Central reported. 

Concerns regarding the digital option of the AP exam may arise due to cheating opportunities that students may have. While taking the exam digitally, College Board has kept security in mind, and there is a specific digital testing guide that students and administrators are required to follow. 

   “Taking the exam at home can lead to the temptation to cheat and being more distracted. Taking the exam at school would allow for a more traditional and focused experience; that’s why I chose to test on campus,” Jaden Far (‘22) said. 

    For more information, resources and updates can be found on the College Board website as well as exam scheduling and rules and regulations for testing.  

 

Vaccination among the youth 

Students get vaccinated in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, amidst the controversy of the vaccination process. 

By Sofia Chianella 

Army Spc. Angel Laureano holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Between Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, these companies have given the world a push to start getting back to a sense of normalcy. With the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requiring you to be 18 years of age, 16 or older is the requirement for the Pfizer vaccine, giving students in high school the opportunity to protect themselves. Around campus, adolescents have taken the companies up on their offer. 

As an 18-year-old, Jillian Misemer (’21) was eligible to receive the Moderna vaccine, proven to be 92% effective by the World Health Organization. Despite the FDA approving this vaccine, people over the country still question the safety of this process. Misemer feels she has bigger issues to worry about, and decided to follow through with vaccination. 

“I got the vaccine because I want to protect myself from COVID-19 as much as humanly possible. I know people who have gotten the virus and feel awful for so long, and I want to avoid that if I can. I also got the vaccine to help get us closer to herd immunity, and subsequently get the U.S. closer to our new post-pandemic normal. I’m sure that there’s plenty of people who can’t get it because of allergies or immune disorders, so I want to do my part to protect them where I can,” Misemer said. 

Fears of contracting the virus is not the only reason why students want to receive the vaccine. The longing to see family all around the country has fed into the decision for Cate Miller (’22) in hopes that she can see them as soon as possible. 

“I got the vaccine so I could travel and see my family again that live up north. I wasn’t concerned about getting it. My mom and dad both got it, so I felt fine getting it. The only side effect I had was that I was really tired, but other than that I was fine. I was surprised I could get the vaccine so early but I’m so happy I could get it,” Miller said. 

Due to the controversy that swarms the vaccination process, many people have different opinions on whether or not they would get the shot that could protect them against the virus. Kole Kemple (’22) was set on his decision to get the vaccine to help COVID-19 cases decrease. 

“I would explain to them [those that will not receive the vaccine] they’re being very selfish, and that they should try to actually become informed on why getting the vaccine is so important,” Kemple said. 

As the nation remains divided on whether or not they will receive the vaccine, adolescents are taking a stand and making decisions for themselves, in the hope that their decision turns out to save lives.

NCAA National Championship

Baylor beat Gonzaga by a score of 87-70

By Luke Cartiglia 

   On April 5, the Baylor Bears and the Gonzaga Bulldogs squared off in a highly anticipated matchup to see who would become the best college basketball team in the world. Although the Bulldogs were favored to win (-210) the Baylor Bears pulled off the upset and won by a score of 87-70. 

   “I thought Gonzaga was going to win because of their hard play and how physical they are. They also would make history by making it through a whole season undefeated,” Sander Johnson (‘23) said.

   After the buzzer-beater shot made by Gonzaga to punch their ticket to the championship game, everyone expected them to win. After all, they were undefeated before losing to Baylor Monday night.

   “Their undefeated record says a lot about the type of team they are and what they can be,” Johnson said.

   The statistics of the game paint the picture. The final score ended up being 87-70. Baylor’s 3 point percentage in the first half was 58 percent while Gonzaga’s was 16 percent. Baylor never gave up their lead throughout the game. 

   “Baylor ended up being the more dominant team at the end of the day,” Johnson said.

   At the end of the day Baylor outlasted Gonzaga and took the victory. They played as a team and won as a team. Although Gonzaga has been the better team all year, they did not show that in the National Championship game.

Collecting items can lead to collecting memories if in the right state of mind

By Emma Rogers
Debating the realities of giving and receiving gifts over the holidays when materialism takes on a huge role

   Ever since the first “Dear Santa” letter was written, the idea of giving and receiving gifts began the materialistic aspect of the holidays. According to Tim Kessler, a professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, specializing in materialism and well-being, to be materialistic means to place values that put a relatively high priority on making a lot of money and having many possessions, as well as on image and popularity, which frequently becomes expressed through money and possessions.

   There are different views on materialism, it just depends on the encounters one experiences with a materialistic person. On one hand, it can be seen as making one greedy, while others see it as prioritizing receiving a gift over everything else.

   “To me, materialism is less of greed and more care for your possessions. You’re concerned about items you put your soul or money into. I’m a materialistic person, and to be honest, as much as it is a bad thing, I don’t find caring for something you put effort into as bad,” Holy Emelicheva (‘22) said.

  The idea of gift-giving becomes more of a priority in the spirit of Christmas; however, a gift can hold different meanings to the recipient than the intentions a loved one wanted.

  “Materialism means that you value objects more than things like love. If you were in a relationship, some people would rather be with someone who can pay for their things. I also think it means you value the things you have,” Shauna O’Donnell (‘21) said.

  During this time of the year, enjoying a gift that was given to you is normal, but becoming upset at the prospect of not receiving what you wanted should not be the norm. Denis Pekusic (‘24) encountered a situation similar when he gave a bracelet to his friend with their name on it. They loved the bracelet but lost it shortly after receiving it.

  “I enjoy receiving gifts because gifts mean a lot to me if they come from a loved one or even a friend, also because it makes me happy and possibly other people happy too. Some people are grateful for their gifts and spending time with family and friends but on the other hand, they could also not care to talk to family and only care for the gifts,” Pekusic said.

  Materialism can be both a good and a bad thing, it all depends on the situation and reasoning on why an object’s value is worth prioritizing over all else. 

 

Progression of the COVID-19 vaccine

By Emma Rogers
The clinical process explained for the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine and the opinions of those waiting for the vaccine to be ready

   The COVID-19 global pandemic caused distress amongst those in and out of the medical field. According to National Geographic, “More than 150 coronavirus vaccines are in development across the world.” Billions of dollars go into the research for finding a successful vaccine, and only a few candidates for the possible vaccine made it past initial trials so far.

   Vaccines go through an extensive process called a multi-stage clinical trial process that usually takes about 10-15 years to get approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be on the market. The first phase for vaccines begins with a clinical trial process, where safety and effectiveness are tested among a small group. Then the group becomes larger to test those who may have the disease or are more susceptible to catch it. After those two tests, the trial then tests among various ages, ethnicities, and those with underlying health conditions to see if the vaccine is effective with a wider array of people. Yet, Connor Mcfadyen (‘21) plans to wait before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

   “If it’s shown to be helping people out by actually making them feel better and showing fewer symptoms than people who actually had COVID-19 and didn’t get the vaccine, then yes I would gladly get it. If something is helping, why wouldn’t I try to help myself get better instead of just making my body get worse,” Mcfadyen said. 

   Vaccine developers actively attempt to shorten that process for the vaccine, SARS-CoV-2, by running clinical trial phases simultaneously to allow for public use sooner. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated that the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board can end trials early if their interim results test overwhelmingly positive or negative. 

   “I don’t think I would get a COVID-19 vaccine if it came out because you don’t know what kind of side effects it could have or if it will do anything to help. I don’t think it will help minimize the spread because it would make people feel safer to go out more, and they could still have the potential [of controlling the virus] and could spread it to someone who doesn’t have it and didn’t get the vaccine,” Sadie Gayton (‘22) said.

   Either way, the CDC asked for vaccine distribution sites to be operational by Nov. 1, 2020. However, time will tell if this vaccine will be successful, but there are still dozens of vaccines being processed through the multi-stage clinical trial process.

Image Licensed for reuse. Creator: Lisa Ferdinando

 

Clubs Make Changes to Follow New Precautions

By Ashley Hoskins

   With the new school year starting, clubs and activites made important changes to adjust to the COVID-19. Officers decided to host club meetings over Zoom or in-person while socially distancing. New officers helped members while adapting to changes.

   President of National Honor Society, Tatiana Maher (’21), and her fellow officers decided to switch NHS’s meetings from the school’s Media Center to Zoom. Maher sought out new ways to volunteer while safely socially distancing and making adjustments for the upcoming members.

     “A big change we had to make as a club is pertaining to service. Service is an integral part of the society and the members involved. Service is one of our pillars, but we understand the difficulties of this time during the COVID-19 pandemic. To adapt to this, instead of typical service requirements, we are only requiring members to submit proposals for a specific service project they would like to do over the course of the first semester. This means that we can still be an active part of our community without endangering anyone,” Maher said.

   The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, president, Vanessa Kriston (’21), decided to improvise and hold meetings a different way this school year. FCA normally gathers in the gymnasium but transitioned to the online platform starting the first semester while limiting club fees and encouraging everyone to join without the hardships of filling out an application.

     “We are utilizing Zoom for our meetings and setting up Canvas page for further information. Our first meeting will be held on September 14 and students can sign up at any time using our new Remind. For right now, we are hosting at-home Zoom calls. Hopefully, we have the opportunity to meet in the gym throughout the school year. We have Ms. Regenia Dixon (FAC) helping us as our advisor, to organize meetings, dates, and times with administration, while willing to make accommodations for our new members,” Kriston said.

     Louis Chianella (’21), Vice President of the social studies national honor society, Rho Kappa, discovers new techniques to social distance while having meetings with his other fellow officers. He created fundraisers and opportunities for members to participate, mostly geared towards socially distanced activities that involve fewer interaction for the current school year. 

     “We can’t have too many events outside of school because we want to make sure every member feels comfortable participating. The club will most likely start in October. Ms. LuAnne Hampton (FAC) is the advisor and as the date gets closer, applications will be picked up in her room. I think the other students in the club will be hopeful about the new club policies during this stressful time and I am positive every club member will do everything to make it a great year,” Chianella said. 

   The school clubs work to keep every member safe in order to social distance due to COVID-19. Click here for more information about clubs at Mitchell.

Let’s save lives

Katryna Adamski (’21) works to spread awareness and collect funds to help support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

By Isa Desiante

During her junior year, Katryna Adamski (’21) became an active campaign member for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) in honor of her brother Joel. Joel was diagnosed at age five, underwent two and a half years of treatment, and was in remission for five

years. Joel’s ability to overcome this diagnosis inspired Adamski to help others in a similar situation her and her family went through, which is why she began raising money for LLS.

“I raised the money in a few different ways. I sent out personal emails, letters, posted on social media, held sponsorship meetings, and reached donations, cash, and checks,” Adamski said.

This specific cancer society works to support the families going through the treatment process, funding for new research, and educating the public. Her campaign is collecting funds not only for LLS to find a cure, but all other blood cancers to find one as well. With the support from her family and friends, Adamski raised awareness for this foundation throughout the Trinity community.

Jessica Schultz (FAC) placed blue bags in every classroom allowing students to make any amount of donation to the LLS. Along with in-school donations, Schultz also spoke about the Adamski’s campaign through the home phone calls to inform parents.

As Adamski helped spread awareness and raise money for the LLS society, she was recognized around the local areas as an active campaign member. On January 8th, Adamski’s campaign officially began, along with receiving her Hall of Fame Award. After she had collected all of her funds, she was presented with a mission award on March 1st in honor of her dedication to being a campaign member of the LLS.

“My end goal was to raise $25,000, but aside from the money I want to bring awareness not only to blood cancers, but give people a way to help support the cause through this organization,” Adamski said.

Relay for Life moved to Sept. 26

By Riley Curie

   Relay For Life of the Suncoast takes place in the community to raise money for the American Cancer Society and other cancer organizations. People come together from all over the area to raise awareness by walking the track and buying things from booths. The Suncoast joins more than 20 countries that participate with 5,000 relays across the globe.

Booths from Interact, Spanish NHS, NHS, and other school clubs join the relay in order to raise money. Michael Hodgson (’21), a member of the National Honor Society will participate with his club.

“When picking commities for National Honor Society I decided to do Relay For Life because it seems like a really good cause. I wanted to be able to raise money and awareness. I have gone the past couple of years but haven’t been part of a team so I am excited to do that this year,” Hodgson said.

Interact, another service club, creates a booth to help raise money. Every booth at the event must have a theme that goes along with the overall relay teme, which is 80’s, and sell something. As a member of the club, Mason Rendulic (’20) will help the team create and sell their fundraising item.

“We are making scarfs for cats and dogs that go around their collars to raise money. It was something that we can all do easily and sew together. It was a big thing a while ago and everyone thought it was really cute,” Rendulic said.

The relay not only raises awareness but allows for the community to come together. Tori Redinger (’21) will participate in the relay with more than one club.

“I’m most looking forward to getting to spend time with other club members and my friends while also helping out. Relay For Life is one of the better opportunities to volunteer because you get to be social while also having that social aspect,” Redinger said.

Due to the Coronavirus, the Relay For Life of the Suncoast has been postponed until Sept. 26. During the Relay, participants can buy from all of the booths and partake in activities to raise money and support the American Cancer Society.

Avoiding student loan debt with former students

Q: Where do you go to school? Why did you choose that school?

A:  Sophie Sajecki (‘18): I chose UCF because of how large it is, how it’s close to home but not too close, and because of the opportunities in the Orlando area for internships and jobs for my major! 

A: Lindsey Hoskins (‘19): University of Florida. UF has one of the best Journalism and Communications colleges in the country. I love the beautiful campus and the constant motivation to strive for academic excellence.

A: Mileen Meyer (‘18): I now attend Emory University. I chose Emory because it is a very prestigious school and they gave me an amazing amount of financial aid which made it affordable enough for me to get an education there.

A: Nick Piccione (18): University of Florida. I have always wanted to attend UF, and it’s the best school in the state to go to, especially being pre-health. The cost was definitely an added bonus to attending UF, but this was the only school I ever seriously considered going to. 

A: Chandler Dempsey (‘17): Florida State University

A: Meghan Bertig (‘17): Florida State University. FSU had everything I was looking for in a college-everything from academics to sports teams, campus life and ways to have fun! The campus is beautiful and the resources available for student success are unbeatable. 

Q: How important was cost when deciding where to go to school?

A: Sophie Sajecki: The cost of UCF was not a huge factor in my decision to come here, but I knew that I wanted to stay in-state since I could utilize in-state tuition and my Florida Prepaid money that my parents had been saving since I was a baby.  

A: Lindsey Hoskins: Cost wasn’t that much of a deciding factor because I did receive scholarships to the other colleges I applied to, but not UF. The University of Florida was always my dream school and I wanted to go there no matter what if I was accepted. 

A: Mileen Meyer: Cost was a big factor when I was deciding where to go to school. Since Emory is out of state and a private institution, I know it would be very expensive. I was awarded the Bright Futures scholarship for a Florida university, but that only covers tuition, so I would have still paid room and board. At that point, it was all about how much Emory could offer in financial aid, otherwise I would have to stay in state.

A: Chandler Dempsey: Moderately important

A: Meghan Bertig: Cost was a huge deciding factor. By attending college in Florida at one of the top 20 public universities in the nation, I was able to attend college tuition-free. That return on investment is hard to resist. 

Q: (For bright futures students) What did you do to earn your scholarship?

A: Sophie Sajecki: All throughout high school, I volunteered a lot in my free time. My mom worked at an elementary school so I went there a lot to collect hours, and I was involved in a lot of clubs on campus that required service hours and gave service hour opportunities. Towards my Junior year was when I volunteered the most, and this worked towards my advantage when it came to bright futures. In addition to service hours, test scores are required. If I would’ve done one thing differently, I definitely would have taken the SAT one more time to get the top bracket of bright futures. I was only 20 points away! 

A: Lindsey Hoskins: It depends on each individual’s situation, but the biggest stressor for me was volunteer hours because sometimes I would forget to log them and it was a challenge to balance community service, academics, and extracurricular activities. I studied for my SAT only and did not participate in any ACT tests. I knew from the time I was a freshman I needed the full-paid option, so I worked really hard to accomplish the GPA, service hours, and test scores. Bright Futures is a huge reason why I’m able to go to a state university and I’m very thankful the state of Florida provides that opportunity to students.

A: Mileen Meyer: To earn the bright futures scholarship, I needed 100 community service hours and a high SAT score. Interact club and volunteering at Generations Christian Church were the two major sources of my volunteer hours. I volunteered at Generations every Wednesday and Sunday for their middle school and Sunday school services, and I went to most of the major community service opportunities that Interact provided for us. As far as my SAT score, I used Khan academy and practice books/tests to learn tips for during the exam. 

A: Nick Piccione: To earn my bright futures scholarship I submitted the test scores which I received on my ACT and SAT tests as well as completing over 100 hours of volunteering at a nonprofit called Kids In Crisis where my aunt was employed.  Bright Futures was something I knew about because of my older sister and it was heavily discussed at Mitchell by both peers and staff.

A: Chandler Dempsey: In order to earn my Bright Futures scholarship I dedicated my time to participating in extracurricular activities through clubs within the school, competitive sports, and volunteering off of campus. In addition, I challenged myself academically to earn the best grades and test scores possible.

A: Meghan Bertig: To earn my scholarship, I had to maintain a 3.5 GPA, complete 100 community service hours, and have a weighted ACT score of 29. By doing this in high school, I was able to save tens of thousands of dollars.

Q: How did you find out about scholarship opportunities?

A: Sophie Sajecki: A lot of the scholarships I found were on my own. I did the work required for bright futures on my own, I researched other scholarships in my free time and I did the work necessary to get scholarships all by myself. The summer before I left for school I went on websites such as collegexpress.com and even the UCF scholarship website to apply for everything I was eligible for. Free money is free money so I didn’t mind spending time on that!

A: Lindsey Hoskins: I used the school’s website to apply for the Pasco Education Foundation Scholarships and local scholarships as well. I encourage students to do lots of research because there are many big companies who give out scholarships that I was unaware of.

A: Mileen Meyer: I found scholarship opportunities through resources at Mitchell, as well as through the Pasco Education Foundation. The Pasco Education Foundation has resources for students to use that filter the scholarships so they can apply for those that fit their circumstances best. Even though it may seem like you probably won’t get selected for a scholarship, they offer so many that a fair amount of students do get selected. So, apply for all of the scholarships that you qualify for, because even a few hundred dollars helps to cover textbooks and other expenses. 

A: Chandler Dempsey: Most of my scholarship opportunities came through participation in organizations that I belonged to. Outside of that, Mrs.Chamberlin was very helpful in providing me with resources to find scholarships and how to apply for them.

Q: What study skills did you use to keep your GPA up in high school?

A: Sophie Sajecki: In high school, I utilized a lot of unique methods of studying since the typical ‘read through my textbooks’ method never really worked well for me. I found it best to make quizlets, rewrite my notes from class, and even make kahoots with my friends that we would get together and take at a friend’s house or even at Starbucks! Studying in unique ways definitely helped me maintain a good GPA and made me prepare for college in ways I didn’t think that it would. 

A: Lindsey Hoskins: I always made school my first priority because I knew I had to work very hard in order to get into UF and afford to go to college. I created many quizlets in high school to study and even had to give up entire weekends for academics. Communication with your classmates and teachers is super important so you can fully utilize your resources around you. 

A: Mileen Meyer: What really helped my studying was reading the textbook and annotating or taking extra notes. I know it can be tedious, but the textbooks really go into more depth than what can be covered in a 50-minute class. Sometimes you might read something and realize that you misunderstood the concept in class or didn’t understand it as well as you thought you did. Reading reinforces the information in your brain and ensures you cover all of the bases.

A: Nick Piccione:  I was always that kid that did his work when they were supposed to. If it was recommended we read the textbook but not necessarily required, I always did it, that is until I got to my senior year. People often focused too much on high school socially, it’s hard to accept in the moment, but as a college student I can say with full confidence that school should always be your number one priority. I rarely speak to people from high school now, I’ve made so many relationships up here in Gainesville that are gonna continue past graduation.

A: Chandler Dempsey: I am a firm believer in taking notes by hand and rewriting those notes to fully absorb the material. I would take notes in class and then condense them into a smaller study sheet of the key information. My friends and I would also frequent Starbucks go through study guides together so that we could talk about the information and act as a ‘teacher’ for one another. I also think that repetition is key, so rereading my notes and doing practice problems was essential to my study routine.

A: Meghan Bertig: In high school, I was extremely organized when it came to assignment due dates and test dates. From knowing these dates, I was able to block off study time accordingly to make sure I gave myself enough time to study.

Q: Who gave you advice on avoiding student loan debt? What advice did they give you?

A: Sophie Sajecki: My parents gave me the best advice on avoiding student loan debt. I am so thankful for them because they saved for my college when I was growing up, because their parents hadn’t done so for them. I use Florida prepaid every semester to pay for my classes and my rent. I use my bright futures money for books, sorority dues and extra money to spend on myself. Bright futures is the smartest thing that high school students should try to receive. 

A: Lindsey Hoskins:  My parents always told me that it was common for people to take out loans, but we obviously did not want that to be a reality. Mrs. McNulty really helped me in the application and post-acceptance process due to her experience with a daughter already in college. Even though it may be exhausting applying for scholarships, it’s definitely worth it in the end. 

 A: Mileen Meyer: I don’t really remember who gave me advice, sorry! I just know I didn’t want to take out loans, especially not in undergraduate school (if I could avoid it).

A: Nick Piccione: I had several teachers that would discuss college decisions my senior year. most notably Mr. Scott and Mrs. McNulty would talk about the costs of college and how important it is to minimize the amount of student debt you acquire. 

A: Chandler Dempsey: I honestly do not remember receiving any solid advice on student loan debt in high school. Most teachers and advisors said to try and avoid it if possible. However, as a senior in college – a little late in the game – my personal finance professor, Calhoun, gave us some great tips on avoiding and minimizing student loan debt. First, avoid it if you can; obviously, not everyone is able to do so. Second, if you need a loan, choose loans that are subsidized. This means that interest is not collected on the loan while you are in school, and begins to collect only after you graduate and begin making payments. Third, only use the loan to finance academic needs. In other words, do not use the loan to fund a nicer apartment, eating out, or other fun purchases. Lastly, pay the entirety of the loan off as soon as possible; do not miss payments and pay the full amount each month, not just the minimum.

A: Meghan Bertig: My dad gave me advice. He went to an out-of-state college and in turn, had to pay off his tuition after graduation. He told me to consider life after graduation and whether I thought a school would be worth paying for with my future salary. In the end, I made the choice to go to a school where tuition was free for me while still earning an extremely respectable degree. 

Q: Did you receive a scholarship to attend the college you chose specifically? What was it for (academics, athletics, etc.)?

A: Sophie Sajecki: Nope!

A: Lindsey Hoskins: I did not receive a scholarship from UF but I received a couple thousand of dollars through academic and involvement based scholarships through Mitchell. 

A: Mileen Meyer: No, I just received the Pasco Education Foundation Scholarship and financial aid/grants from FAFSA and the University.

A: Nick Piccione: The University of Florida did not offer me any scholarships

A: Chandler Dempsey:  Yes, I received a scholarship to attend Florida State. I received the University Freshman Scholarship, granting me financial aid for a portion of my tuition each semester. This scholarship is based on academic merit and takes GPA and test scores into consideration.

Q: What advice would you give a high school student on how to gain scholarships?

A: Sophie Sajecki:  Apply for everything and anything! Pasco county has a website of scholarship opportunities, your future school should have a website of scholarship opportunities, and there are many resources that are available to incoming college freshmen. You can never be too prepared or apply yourself too much. Do everything you can to take advantage of free money!

A: Lindsey Hoskins: Try and get involved in clubs throughout high school and work hard at academics because that’s what scholarship givers are looking for. Also, some clubs at Mitchell offer money to those who made great contributions. Make sure to do your research early and apply even if you don’t think you’ll receive a scholarship. 

A: Mileen Meyer: My advice is to have someone go over your essays multiple times. It’s really easy to miss simple details or to think what you wrote makes sense when it really doesn’t. Always read your essays out loud and/or have someone read them with you to make sure grammar is correct and the information flows appropriately and fits well together. (Mrs. McNulty is a wonderful person to start with when going over your essays. She really helped me organize my essays and stay within the word count!) Also, apply for any scholarship that you qualify for. Even if it’s only for a few hundred dollars, that money really helps with textbook expenses. 

A: Nick Piccione: Get your bright futures, seriously. Don’t put off studying for the ACT or SAT if you know you need to put in the work to get the necessary scores. School needs to be your main focus in high school, if it’s not you’ll end up at a college you didn’t want to go to and regret choosing to hang out with people over getting good grades. It sounds nerdy but it’s true. If your friends feel like they aren’t more important than your work, they’re right, and if they don’t like you because of that get new friends

A: Chandler Dempsey: In attempting to gain scholarships, it is vital that you exhaust all of your resources. Talk to advisors, teachers, and club leaders to see if they know of any scholarships associated with specific programs or in relation to universities that they have attended and you may be interested in. Aside from asking around, it is essential to do your research. There are hundreds of thousands of scholarships available, even some for seemingly random things like being left-handed or having orange hair, that are waiting to be exhausted by incoming college freshman. I would also recommend applying for as many scholarships as you can because it will only serve to benefit you in the long run. But, before you rush out and apply for every scholarship that you qualify for, make sure your responses to scholarship prompts are of quality; after all, you are in competition with your peers and you want to stand out – but only in a good way.