Rockingham County High School Senior Spotlight

Give this item away

Share this article without a paywall.

Congratulations to the Class of 2023. This week, RockinghamNow recognizes three outstanding graduates from Rockingham County High School with student essays.

By Brooklyn Blackstock

Sunshine, rainbows, unicorns, fairies, cute dogs, fluffy cats.

This is the kind of childhood you see in movies when the main character has a younger sibling.

The younger sibling is in the second grade and enjoying his childhood running around, playing hopscotch and drawing stick figures. This scenario doesn’t quite fit my reality as my childhood was quite traumatic.

Of course, going through trauma and being a teenager can be difficult. I can say that growing up I didn’t really have a real mother or father figure. I had to grow up faster than the other fifth graders by trying to be a role model for my younger siblings.

People also read…

Jet It grounded its HondaJet fleet after a serious accident in South Carolina. The newest tenant at the Winston-Salem shopping center is causing a stir – only nobody can shop there. Gunfire overnight in Greensboro leaves one victim in critical condition, police say. Man accused of shooting his mother At their Greensboro home, NASCAR is investigating a derogatory comment made against Bubba Wallace during the All-Star race in North Wilkesboro, according to authorities. As Toyota approaches the first major hiring phase for the NC plant, it says more people are interested in working there than at any of its US plants. Richard Bowling, who fought for progress and brought disco to Greensboro, has died at the age of 84. Gunshot victim found dead at gas station Tina Turner of Rockingham County, the unstoppable superstar whose hits included “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” has died aged 83. Nick Scarborough resigns as Southwest girls basketball coach Cone Health breaks ground on Heart Tower. Man shot dead by officers in Kernersville identified Judge denies bail on man accused of killing Jesse Pitonzo, 26, in February. Guilford County Sports Hall enrolls 12 students in the final grade, including Susan Yow. “Monumental Milestone”: Pygmy Hippo Baby Born at Greensboro Science Center.

After my dad left the picture, my mom, grandma, siblings and I had to resort to something I never want to experience again and no human should do: being homeless in a van.

This meant two grown adults and three still growing and developing children had to live together in one van. Our routine consisted of sleeping on old blankets and pillows, using a bucket as a sink and toilet, and using food stamps.

Eventually the time came when we could move into different apartments, each of which was more run-down than the last.

When “they” came, everything changed. I remember looking at the social worker… standing in our apartment. “Take them,” she said with a straight face. She wasn’t crying and didn’t seem remotely concerned.

Even as a child I understood that my mother had difficulties in taking care of us. Her battle with mental illness had a profound impact on all of us—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Although life was difficult before, it couldn’t compare to the pain of being in a new place without the people you love.

After a few months things finally changed for the better. The Department of Social Welfare and the court system gave custody of my siblings and I to my aunt April.

Looking back, there are some things that have improved and there are still challenges to overcome.

I saw my mother in myself and I don’t want to walk down this dark, lonely path. I want to break the cycle of loss and struggle that has plagued my family. I want to own my own stuff without depending on others. I want to have a stable family. These goals that I have set myself will come closer and closer as I pursue higher education.

My past experiences have motivated me to achieve more and set a new standard for my family.

By Tayton Smaldone

I am a graduate of Rockingham County High School. I played football and baseball for four years while at Rockingham. I was also part of the school’s first-ever indoor track and field team.

I won the All-Conference Award and was named Special Teams MVP my senior year in football. I also won the Coaches Award as a soccer player in my junior year. The clubs I was involved with were the Beta Club and the National Honor Society.

I really enjoyed my time at Rockingham County High School and made new friends and I hope to give them a college life.

My four years of high school began when my freshman year was canceled due to COVID-19.

The sophomore year started entirely online and being at home every day was definitely different. Trying to hear your teacher’s lesson while also listening to your dog bark proved difficult for me.

My junior year started with going back to school in person wearing masks. My senior year was the only “normal” school year for a while.

My fondest memories are of having fun with friends, going to sporting events, and having fun in the student department. My favorite class was the physics class in the spring of my junior year.

My friends and I set up the student area for the softball team by hanging out in our trucks. We brought the corn hole and grill and had many fond memories.

My plan after high school is to attend Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. While I’m at university, I’m going to study sports management and play football. I’m really looking forward to going to Shenandoah to further my education and athletic career.

By Liza Key

I didn’t have the most traditional high school experience. When I was in 7th grade, I began taking high school math courses. This got me very far in school and I decided to graduate a year early.

Also one of my high school years was cut short due to COVID so I really didn’t have much time in high school. But that hasn’t stopped me from being influenced by so many people at Rockingham County High School.

For the past three years I have played soccer, track and field, cross country and joined a number of clubs including the Beta Club, the National Honor Society and the FCA.

From these experiences I have learned that it is not what you do that matters, but who you do it with.

When I started high school, I didn’t have that many friends, so I struggled to have fun at school.

When I first started playing sports, I started enjoying going to school and going to practices/games because of the people on my teams.

A lot of people might think I’m crazy for doing things like cross country or track and field (because running is really awful), but it’s through those sports that I’ve made some of the best friends I think you could ever have.

These friends have made my life and school experience much more fun. I won’t say school was easy. There were a lot of tears and long nights because of the grades and exams, but it was definitely worth it.

Because I had to work hard in all my courses, I was able to get a high grade point average and was able to get into any colleges I wanted to go to. However, I could not have done it alone.

I had some great teachers and an incredibly supportive family that helped me continue to do my best. Teachers like Ms. Cross and Mr. Anders have always supported me and let me talk about anything that bothered me.

Coach Buck was always there to support me athletically and academically and never failed to make me laugh on a bad day.

My counselor, Ms. Anderson, was always there to answer my questions and help with my many, many schedule changes (closing early can be confusing).

Last but not least, my parents supported me in everything I did, be it a game, a big exam or even a small grade I was upset about. They never failed to encourage and support me, always telling me to “do my best” and “make good decisions”.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Rockingham County High School and to learn valuable lessons from so many people. I will always be grateful for the memories I made and the people I met during my years at Rockingham.

Be the first to know