By Lindy Keyser

Special to the Press

Before receiving their diplomas last week, the top ten graduating seniors of Prosper High School reflected on the four-year journey that brought them to the stage at Prestonwood Baptist Church, wearing mortar boards and green gowns. In spite of the countless nights spent studying for difficult tests in AP level classes, all ten seniors reflected warmly on their time at Prosper High.

Ashley Vu started high school with a plan, but had some doubts during her senior year. She credits her English teacher, Mrs. Butcher, with helping her through it by encouraging her to write it out. "I write poetry," Vu said. "It’s a great way to relieve stress because I can release what I’m thinking and feeling but no one ever has to read it but me."

When she isn’t writing, Vu enjoys playing piano. She was the president of the National Honors Society and Vice President of Spanish Club. This year, she’ll be attending the University of California in Los Angeles and can’t wait to have more options for lunch. "I ate Chick Filet cafeteria food every single day," she said. "That’s what I’ll miss the least."

As glad as she is to escape the cafeteria menu, Vu will miss the support she had at PHS and wants incoming seniors to take advantage of it. "If you’re ever feeling hopeless, remember that there are other people going through the same things you are," she said. "That’s what I struggled with most, but you don’t have to feel so alone."

Tyler Sweet laughingly classifies himself as the stereotypical nerd. "I enjoy reading theoretical physics," he said as he compared himself to Sheldon of the Big Bang Theory. As much as he enjoys physics, his AP class was his most difficult this year. "It forces you to use critical thinking skills and look at new problems with different aspects," he said.

In the fall, Sweet intends to study Computer Science at the University of Texas. He says his high school computer science teacher, Ms. Woody, inspired him to pursue it in college. Like his classmates, Sweet is looking forward to a wider lunch-time variety, but he will miss his friends and teachers.

Rafael de Souza says that maintaining his top-ten status the past four years has been stressful. To take his mind off of his ranking, he plays soccer year round and does his best to stay grounded. "It’s important to stop thinking so much about the future and just live in the present," he said.

De Souza will attend the University of Texas at Dallas in the fall on a scholarship for Academic Excellence. He is going to miss his friends, his teachers and his AP Physics class.

"AP Physics takes math and makes you apply it to real-life situations," he said, "and Mr. Boehringer, the teacher, really challenged me. Every single failure I had in that class just made me stronger."

Alexi Bigham is not a morning person. She is excited to arrange her schedule at Texas Tech this fall such that she no longer has to get up at 6 a.m. "I am not going to miss having a first period class," she said.

What she is going to miss is the small-town feel of Prosper. "I’m going to miss the relationships that I’ve formed with people who have become the most important people in my life," she said.

Bigham is going to school on the Texas Tech Presidential Scholarship, the Academic Freshman Bonus, as well as the Texas Tech Alumni Scholarship. She says that Mrs. Gerace played a large role in her success. "She has been super encouraging and she probably is the person who has believed in me most my whole life," she said. "She knows what your potential is and isn’t afraid to tell you to reach for it."

Brooke Bednarz likes to stay busy. She played varsity basketball and soccer all four years of high school, was a student council official, leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a member of the National Honors Society. "If I didn’t play sports I wouldn’t have been as motivated as a student as I was," she said. "It helped me balance everything and to have a great work ethic."

Bednarz is taking her work ethic and class spirit with her to Texas Tech in the fall, on a total of eight scholarships. She’s excited for college, but will miss the camaraderie of a small town and encourages the class of 2014 to take advantage of it. "Be involved in as much as possible and get out of what you think your click is," she said. "Support and acknowledge what everyone is good at and branch out as much as possible."

Grayson Lamb will attend the University of Arkansas in the fall on the Arkansas Non-Resident Award and the Torii Hunter Scholarship. He says that he has loved every minute of his four years at Prosper High School and his faith was a big part of that. "I am very involved in church, bible studies and I am the President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes," he said. "Doing that has really given me an outlet where I can detox and not worry about being perfect but just being who Christ wants me to be."

Lamb is grateful for his four years at Prosper High School and the teachers who helped him along the way. "They have poured into me and have molded me into who I want to be and where I want to go," he said. "Teachers have made such an impact on me and are more than simply educators, they are friends, they are mentors, and they are family."

Carter Lantz will attend Baylor University in the fall to study a passion that he wasn’t even aware of until this year. "I didn’t really want to go into chemistry," he said, "but Mr. McHam really pushed me in that class and that’s when I realized I wanted to study biochem."

In addition to his studies, Lantz kept busy with extracurricular activities during high school. He is active in his church and is both an Eagle Scout and a senior patrol leader. "I do a lot of stuff in that program," he said. "It is a great outlet to be able to go camping on the weekends and not worry about my homework until Sunday night."

When Rachel Porter leaves for Texas Christian University this fall, she is going to miss her drill-team family the most. "I really liked drill team because a lot of my closest friends are on the team and we’ve grown to be one little family," she said. "It’s a good way to get away from the stress of school and it’s really fun when all of your friends are there."

As a member of drill team, Porter was very familiar with the school spirit that radiated from this year’s senior class. She says the school didn’t always carry such pride. "Everything changed when Mr. Wright came," she said. "He brought a lot of school spirit to our class and I’ll miss that."

Crimson Schwartzkopf will attend Texas A&M University - College Station in the fall. She intends to major in chemistry with the goal of becoming a forensic pathologist. "I’m really looking forward to the freedom of being at college," she said, "like being able to make my own decisions and take the classes I want to take."

To take her mind off of her AP classes and top-ten ranking, Schwartzkopf enjoyed attending Prosper High School’s notorious pep rallies. She also says that her mixed martial arts classes were a great way to relieve stress.

Rachael Scicchitano will attend St. Mary’s University next year on both a volleyball and Volleyball Boosters Scholarship. "Volleyball would be my biggest get away from school," she said. "It’s always been like a second family where I don’t have to worry about anything else that happened that day. Nothing else mattered but playing volleyball and having fun."

When she wasn’t on the court, Scicchitano stretched her limits in the classroom. "Mr. Gomez, the AP calculus teacher, taught a different way of math," she said, "and he pushed me beyond what I ever thought I could handle in one class."