Kaylin smiles, lets out a deep breath, and says, “It’s overwhelming.”
What she is describing is how it feels to be within seven months of a day for which she and her classmates have been preparing for most of their lives. This is her thirteenth year at Quitman School District, but Kaylin admits this is the first year she has seriously considered what she will do once she has her QHS diploma in hand.
“If I had known what this year was going to be like, I would have studied more. I would have taken it more seriously. It’s tough with Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Reeves. I probably would have taken more college prep classes. I was just going to school. I wasn’t really thinking about a career. I think it’s about priorities.”
Yesterday Kaylin ordered her cap and gown. She attended college night this week. Tonight she will walk onto Panther Field and be recognized with over fifty of her senior classmates as QHS celebrates those seniors who play football, are a cheerleader, serve in JROTC, and/or participate in the band program. Kaylin is experiencing what we hear time and time again from those that make it to this same place in their lives. Time seems to warp into some type of hyperdrive.
There are a lot of decisions to make, scholarships yet to be applied for, but Kaylin is thankful her parents are there to help. She has already heard this week that the quicker she gets forms like the FAFSA completed, the more likely it is she can get help with college tuition. Many scholarships and grants are first come, first serve. Once the money is depleted, there is no more.
“My dad is helping me with the FAFSA. I already know that I’m going to MCC, because it’s close. They have a program for physical therapy. I always thought I might want to be a nurse, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to handle blood. My sister works at East Mississippi Nursing Home, and I know this lady at church who works at Lakeside. I like older people. They’re sweet. I think I would enjoy doing that. Plus, I like math and science.”
Through Meridian Community College’s Physical Therapy Assistant Program Kaylin will attend classes starting in August of 2017 and continue through the summer of 2018 with a graduation in May of 2019. She will have to maintain a 2.0 or “C” average in all of her classes, but once she is done Kaylin is expecting to be able to obtain a job which pays an average of at least $42,000 annually.
Kaylin’s plans will take a commitment for which she is no stranger. As a member of Quitman High School’s Big Blue Crew she understands the concepts of hard work and dedication. She is happy that she chose to be in the band.
“I’m glad I’m in band. Through it I met a lot of new people. It’s a lot of work and a lot of traveling. I also loved that I took culinary last year. Now I am mentoring. And if there is any advice I could give to kids, I would say, ‘Listen to your teachers because they know what’s right. Make new friends. Be nice to everyone. Stay away from drama.'”
When asked if she thinks tonight’s Senior Night is going to be dramatic, she laughs,
“I think people will be crying. We’re all sad and excited. I’ve been here so long, but I’m ready to go. I’m ready to get in the real world.”