Return to The Rock
As the school building reopened its doors, "The Blaze" staff profiled members of the student body, uncovering their unique stories.
Jaleel Lett, 12
"[Life before quarantine] was less tense, I guess I would say; I enjoyed all of my classes before the whole thing happened. I remember the last few moments at Rock Ridge, and like, when I was walking home, I could still picture it very clearly. I know everyone I know loves [going back to school], but I don't like it, because I got used to online school, and I got more sleep instead of now. Got to wake...
Shayan Khan, 10
"We also had the summer assignment because it was AP. I didn’t really know that until Flight Day; I was pressured to finish them really fast. I finished just in time. The AP History one I had to label 7 maps. We had multiple rivers, cities, countries and all that. I had a word bank but it was still pretty tedious. The next part I had to hand write the answers to 17 questions, which was kind of difficult....
Harshit Singh, 12
“Creating my non-profit organization by the name of TYEC Academy has allowed me to reach new heights and gain leadership skills and experience. [Being the president of TYEC Academy] has been great, and it’s been a long journey, in fact. It’s been over a year now, and we went through several hills. We’ve had to get over people not even attending some of our calls or sessions, so we just kept...
Mai Dorgham, 11
"I have a younger brother. Whenever he has questions about math or stuff, I always help him and basically tutor him at home, and I really like how you explain to someone something and try to make them understand about it, and it really made me happy, so I decided to do that for kids in my school also and try to help them as much as possible."
Zoe Loh, 12
"I did the Nutcracker once when I was twelve, and it was actually really fun. Dancing is something I really enjoy and it expresses myself. When I first started dance, I was worried about how I looked, but now, I know that I can do it. I know what I'm capable of."
Ava Bilinski, 10
“My inspiration is actually from a dream I had. I had a dream after church, and I’m very religious, so I kind of thought of it as a gift from God. Like, he was telling me to write because I’ve been looking for a passion my whole life, something I can do to make friends, and I’ve never been able to find it, so I recently got into writing, and that story just came to me, so it was cool.”
AJ Seshadri, 10
"I am really just a 'sporty guy,' I know a lot about sports and someday I want to own my own business [Sports and financial] so, when you combine the two things I think it really works out for me and it really seems like the right path for me."
Greeshma Yadlapalli, 11
"I most probably would major in law and criminology because it’s my passion and I’m really interested in it. I like solving mysteries and it really intrigues me. Solving mysteries is a stress reliever for me because it allows me to use think outside the box with the evidence given and try to connect the dots to make a logical conclusion rather than going with what the police concluded the case...
Ananya Kesarinath, 12
Question: Where did your passion for volunteering stem from and how did it grow? Ananya Kesarinath: “I think it just started in sixth grade, when I went to middle school I really wanted to join this club [Leo Club] and help people out. And then during COVID actually, I feel like when I ran for president it definitely accelerated even more because I saw that at first the engagement was low, so ...
Mariah Waters, 10
"Honestly when I’m active and outdoors, I just feel better mentally and I just feel lighter and happier. I like to explore the outdoors because it connects me with the Earth and makes me more grounded with nature. Especially since the pandemic, I was inside and it got me very depressed and thinking like ‘What is the point of life if I’m just going to be sitting here on my screen indoors? I just...
Seshank Mallireddigari, 9
"The robots were programmed by humans and I want to be able to program so I can create things like robots."
Sam Austria, 9
"The amount of freedom we get is my favorite thing about high school. [However], I don't like the workload in high school. Compared to middle school, high school is better. The difference between in-person and distance [learning] is my social life and mental health."
Harshroop Singh, 11
“At home I live with my mom, my dad, my brother, and my grandparents. My favorite memories with them are movie nights because we get to spend a lot more time together and actually get to physically be together because our schedules are so different. I look up to my parents the most because I feel like they have taught me so many things throughout my life and I feel like little by little no matter...
Parv Gosai, 11
“You have to fight for your spot, nothing is going to be handed to you. You're going to have to work hard to get wherever you want. There are times when you'll be faced with people from across the world and you're all just trying to fight for these places, and it’s taught me a lot. Times when I've done really bad, like my freshman year when I didn't get into All State [band], I felt awful about...
Kinda Rchaid, 10
"No, I think it’s a lot nicer here and the weather is a lot better. I like it more in the USA but the culture change took a while to get used to."
Bella Fouladi, 11
"As hurtful as [failure] may be in the moment, you can't let it be a setback because in life, you can only move forward, there is no moving backward. With failure, you live and learn. We all make mistakes. You try and be better from it."
Neha Nair, 11
"I started drawing when I was in preschool. I first learned it with my grandpa and then it just accelerated. The first thing he taught me to draw was an apple. Then slowly in school I started to draw too and then in kindergarten I was selected for the art show, and then every year since that in elementary school I kept going to the art show because I got something in. Then in middle school, I took...
Samantha Smith, 12
"I like camaraderie and just the idea of being together. Regardless of your skill or assets, there is always gonna be a place for you. In crew in there's always a place for you but also in the military there's always gonna be somewhere that you're gonna fit."
Charisse Caparros, 9
Q: How is it being back in person? A: "I honestly like it. It's great to be back and see everyone."
Karishma Ruhnke, 12
"The roles that I want to play and that I think I can play, no one else thinks I can play them. I want to play the villain, or the mean girl, the sassy one. But everybody thinks 'Oh the mom, the teacher, the goody-two-shoes, or a dancer background person.'"
Keerthana Govindarajan, 11
“We build such a nice community [in chorus] and everyone is so nice to each other, and it makes chorus even better. We also went to the Wizards game and we sang the national anthem and it was a really fun experience. “
Hilton Foley, 10
"I wouldn't say [exercise] comes naturally. Some people just grew up playing sports, so no one is better than anyone else in sports;it's just about where you were born and what you took interest in when you were younger. My most recent record would probably be 175 on bench [press]. It was maybe two weeks ago, and at the time, I took a huge break from working out in general. Before those two weeks,...
Caitlynn Washington, 10
"I thought my parents were joking when they said that I was walking [at New York Fashion Week], and then [I realized] they were serious. I was in shock for a week straight, I didn't think it was real. Just stick to your own style, don't try to be like anyone else, and just do what you enjoy to do. Designers will see your potential, and if they like your look, then you'll walk for them."
Esteban Vazquez, 9
"I go to Mexico every year, that's where I learned to drive. I know how to drive stick and automatic, although I prefer stick."
Muhammad Reda, 9
"My dad got me into [photography] because he use to do photography professionally. I just had a camera laying around and started messing around with it. It's something we talk about a lot; he helps me with the advice on it, and how to capture better photos."
Kamille Simon, 11
"It's a big responsibility, it's a larger team this year so I feel like I just work hand in hand with the coaches and my other captain to help keep us organized. I think once we get to competition, it's gonna be a bit more nerve racking to lead the team, but right now it's fun at games."
Sriya Reddipalli, 9
"I'm not really good with understanding feelings of other people, like when they cry, but when I saw the dead bird I felt bad."
Prerana Telegu, 11
"The people were different. It's more diverse here. It's much easier getting around here than my last school. I moved here fine. The teachers here are actually helpful.Teachers in arkansa were not that helpful. It's a nice school."
Dhaya Bharath, 11
"Something that I really love doing in this school is definitely being on the Rock Ridge softball team. We don't have a lot of people on the team in this school which is unfortunate, but it's actually great because we have a smaller community that we can actually connect with. We only have one team, which is the varsity team, but it's still really great to get to experience the sport and I really do...
Ashwin Rahi, 9
"I used to play baseball and soccer but I lost interest in those two since soccer was getting boring and baseball was getting hard."
Taha Abu-Saymeh, 12
"Not many people in Jordan took COVID-19 precautions so we were not able to go and meet many loved ones. It was nice to see family after a few years and be back home in Jordan."
Mehul Tahiiani, 11
"[Game design] is an escape. I think of it in the same realm as writing and art, or anything creative. I'm driven by what I can make rather than how I make it, so I don't consider [game design] to be a part of science or math or STEM, I consider it more to be something like art where you can create whatever you want."
Matthew Farley, 12
“This is my fourth year doing track and field. I remember seeing a lot of the good runners, the sort of runners that would have a legacy here at Rock Ridge. I remember helping around the track such as moving hurdles. I’m kind of tied between that [track and field] and cross country. I like cross country’s practices but the races are kind of hard. With track, I don’t really like the practices...
Ayesha Ansari, 11
"I play two varsity sports at Rock Ridge: field hockey and lacrosse. I started playing both my sophomore year, so this year will be my second season on each team. I really like being a part [of teams] because it allows you to meet so many people and make new friends that you may not have ever met otherwise, specifically people from other grades that you may not have classes with. I met a lot of upperclassmen...
Saish Koneru, 12
“Money was my thing that I have always wanted. Ever since I was a kid, all I wanted to be is successful and to make money. Money over Everything. I was addicted to the thought of money. I made my first 6 figure play. I turned $60,000 from one play to $444,000 overnight. I woke up and I saw this number on my table — it was like a dream. I didn’t know what was going on and I was just in disbelief....
Krish Shah, 11
Q: How much did you think the workload was? A: "For some of the clases we would have summer assignments, but this year they cancelled [most]summer assignments because we came from a distance learning environment and we wouldn't have much focus. I think sleepwise, I would've gotten 1 - 2 hours less sleep [in grade 9 than in grade 10]."
Allison Fisher, 9
"I have scoliosis so it's really hard to do cheerleading because I get a sharp pain whenever I bend my back. I've also pulled both my obliques when I did cheer everyday."
Shlok Sathe, 12
Q: Why do you like cars? A: "It's always been a hobby of mine." Q: Specifically what do you like most about cars? A: "The driving experience." Q: Describe how you feel when you are driving a car. A: "Like i'm on top of the world." Q: What car do you drive? A: "1999 Chevrolet Corvette."
Sierra Bell, 10
"I love working with people [at Crumbl Cookies] that I already know as well as making friends with new people, it’s just really fun being there.”
Nina Lal, 11
"[The most memorable moment of my dog Chewy is that] at around 5:00 p.m., when all the sunshine's in, [Chewy] likes chasing around sun reflection. So around 5 p.m., he knows that's when the sun sets so he starts chasing around all the sun spots."
Casie Peng, 11
"I've tripped over many things but I'm so used to falling to the point where I've built this system inside of me to catch myself; I know how to catch myself when I fall. It's called jumping. I'd like to say it works 90% of the time."