Student Spotlight by Kendyl Cardwell
It might be hard to find East Ridge Senior Reagan Parks in one place. Whether it is racing through the hills of Clermont, commuting between her 5 AP classes, or leading the National Honor Society at her school, she certainly has a lot to juggle. While most high schoolers can be found running away from this type of responsibility, Reagan runs towards it. Excelling as both a student, an athlete, and a person, Reagan has not just exceeded individually throughout her time at East Ridge but her motivation and kindness have impacted everyone from her teammates to her classroom peers.
After having trouble finding her place in elementary and middle school, Parks found a home with running. This dedication to her sport was obvious to her coach, Grant Mollett. He has watched Reagan take on a leadership position on the team, saying “Reagan leads by example. She is Ms. No Days Off. She is at every practice, leads every drill, and gives 100% each day”. This attitude not only has improved her as an individual athlete, but it has made a meaningful impact on fellow runners. She takes a personal interest in more than just her own individual running goals, but also the team’s goals. “She has made this team better, and as a coach, she has taught me what to expect out of each and every athlete that I coach,” says Mollett.
Her consistent work ethic brought her an over 7-minute improvement since her first race freshman year. Now beginning her final cross-country season, Parks has established herself as one of the top runners in the district. East Ridge Cross-country Coach Mollett now looks to Reagan to lead the East Ridge team towards a promising season. This team atmosphere of cross country and the close bonds she has formed with her teammates is what Parks says she will miss most as she faces graduation. “My team and I are very close and they are the people I turn to first. Being able to run in a group is extremely motivating and stress- relieving, which I’ll also miss,” she says.
The impact of running on Park’s life has radiated far beyond the track or cross-country course. Parks credits a large part of her academic success and determination to her involvement with distance running: “Running has enabled me to do better in my studies, as the motivation and perseverance required in the sport translated for me into the classroom. It has allowed me to be able to focus more and has driven me to pursue learning even further.” The result of this focus in the classroom is evident through her challenging courses and school involvement.
Putting the student before the athlete, Parks is taking an extremely challenging schedule that includes only AP courses. Heading into this difficult senior year, she has goals of hitting top 25 in her large class and is already looking towards college. She is fairly set on staying in state (possibly considering UF, USF, or UCF) and has a strong idea that she wants to study in the science field. “I’m a big history nerd, but my favorite subject is Biology,” she says, “I really want to major in biomedical sciences. Ever since I was little, I have wanted to be a doctor of some kind – they get to help people every day and face new experiences.”
Besides academic courses, she has shown a strong involvement in her school community through many clubs. Parks is Vice-President of her school’s NHS, a position that puts her in charge of helping to lead important community and school events. She is also involved with the National Science Honor Society and enjoys going to FCA meetings (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). Her packed schedule of athletics, academics, and extracurricular doesn’t leave her with much time, but she still enjoys going down to the lake with her friends or paddleboarding in her free time.
In the hectic teenage life, it is rare to find someone so committed to not only bettering themselves but those around them. Through an unrelenting commitment to her passions and genuine care for her teammates and classmates, Reagan has managed to make a profound difference in a wide variety of circles. The work she has put in over the past four years has resulted in an impressive high school resume and sets her up for a very bright future. A future which she is very excited about: “Looking towards college I am extremely excited to start taking classes that pertain most to my passion. I will definitely be running, whether it’s for a club or collegiately, and I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.”
Kendyl Cardwell is a contributing feature writer for the SOUTH LAKE TABLET. Her articles spotlight students leading the way in South Lake. Kendyl, a student herself, has already proven her ability as a talented writer/reporter. The TABLET is fortunate to have her on our team.