Final Blog


Photo by Tori Burris

Luke Bellinger, Staff Writer

Splash. I remember keeling over laughing in my J1 class when Mr. Mallett told a story about when one of his students started an article with the word “splash”. It’s been a long school year—significantly longer than my last. I’ve done a lot this year—I think. It’s been a while since the beginning of my high school journalism career, and I’ve certainly learned a lot from my short time here. I started telling stories in middle school, back at Burton Adventist Academy. My debut at the Broadcast program at BNN in 2017 saw low-quality interviews with fellow middle schoolers cut together on iMovie with my terrible iPad camera and less-than-sensational demeanor in front of the camera. That elective class ended producing stories that, to the best of investigative research, were either never posted, or are sitting in the archives of the BAA Facebook page. Since then I have always been a passionate advocate for telling stories, about anyone or anything that deserves to have their story told. I started this year in J1, but, considering that I am a senior, I was bumped up to Newspaper within the month. During my time here at The Rider Online, I have written some of the best stories I can, telling stories that I wish someone else would’ve told before me. Some of my most fulfilling work came from my Voter Suppression feature, where I interviewed Civil Rights Activist Crystal Mason, and my coverage of the Gay-Straight Alliance. In a way, storytelling has always been a passion of mine, and I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to do so at The Rider Online. This year, we won A PACEMAKER!!!!!! And a Best of Show from the National Student Press Association, which makes up for our snubs from the CSPA and ILPC. By virtue of the attendance zone, and looking at the extracurriculars list on the second floor, I have accidentally ended up here, at (arguably) the best student newspaper in the country. 

“Resolved: Term limits for members of the United States Congress are justified.” For this whole semester, that sentence has been the bane of my existence. I compiled 32 pages of research and spent hundreds of hours finding evidence to prove that Term limits for members of the United States Congress are—or are not—justified. And I got knocked out at regionals by a rich girl from Houston who called me a nazi for saying that we should live in a democracy. (I’m still salty.) I’d tell you to join debate, but debate is incredibly time-consuming and takes a lot of dedication. Once a month, I had to wake up at 5 a.m. to get on the early-morning bus to some random town like Melissa or Ennis so I could spend 10 hours screaming at other children about racism in college sports, the collapse of China’s economy, and term limits. In October, I had to buy a suit because, to that point, I never had any reason to wear formal clothing. I spent the bulk of my extracurricular time this year working on debate, reading and writing arguments, and getting ready to deal with tournament showrunners who are not a fan of cross-entered students. I participated in 37 debates this year, against people from as far away as Neenah, Wisconsin, and Brophy, Arizona, and against people from as near as Mansfield HS and Waxahachie. My final record this year was 21-16, and my win column includes both of the National Circuit debaters from Wisconsin and Arizona. My best rivalry is 3-0 against Aledo, and my worst is a tie between 0-2 against Waxahachie and 1-2 against RR McNeil. My favorite tournament was UT Austin (the National Circuit one) and my least favorite was Saginaw, even though I picked up my first Varsity win there. I also did 14 Extemporaneous speeches, with an average ranking of 2.28. Debate taught me some valuable lessons—namely how to speak in public, tell a story, and make an effective argument. 

Tedium. Endless tedium. Day in, day out. Go to the same classes, do the same things, and hope that my monotonous lifestyle will eventually yield some reward in the future. Wake up, hit the snooze button. Wake up, hit the snooze button. Stare idly as Mr. Cousins’ whistle jolts me from my melancholia and I pack my backpack to go to math class. Such is the glamorous life of a high school student. Zombies are real. Don’t believe me? Go to Sra. Rendón’s 7 a.m. Spanish class at Ben Barber and you’ll see some zombies. Three hours—that’s how long I have to spend in that classroom. From 7 to 10 a.m., every A day, I have to spend three full hours learning Spanish. And as the Teacher screams at the students to wake up, they stare idly at their phones because that is the only thing that can numb the pain. 

Boy, do I love dealing with TCC’s counseling office! I should be graduating with 38 credit hours to my name, after passing a gauntlet of eleven professors with only one B. The biggest benefit to doing TCC classes was the transferable credit to any university in Texas. Some teachers say that AP classes prepare students for college, but TCC classes are college. I’ll be entering college as a Sophomore, owing to my excellent college transcript, and I would beseech any 10th and 11th graders to sign up for TCC classes as well. Sure, the administration forgets we exist most of the time, and the classes might be difficult, but at least it’s real, actual college credit without an AP test. Also, the classes don’t meet on Fridays.

Theoretically, time is linear. Therefore, I have to do something after this. I’m going to college! Probably. I’m going to TCU (Go Frogs!), and I am planning on finishing my degree with a major in political science and minors in Spanish and law. TCC has provided me with credit towards both political science and Spanish, so my primary concern when I go to college is to sign up for as many 3- and 4- level classes as possible to confuse the upper-level professors with a random 16-year-old in their fourth-year class. I am incredibly grateful to both UTA and TCU for providing me with excellent financial aid offers ($10,000 and $45,000 per year respectively), and I know that wherever I graduate, I should have all the tools for a successful career doing s o m e t h i n g.

One year ago…I showed up to this school apprehensive and anxious about my future here, and in college. Now, a year later, I’ve done things I never thought I’d do, had opportunities I never would have imagined, and I’ve made friends and built a home here at Legacy. I also hope that I have had a positive impact on the school around me, through Newspaper or Debate, and I hope that something that I’ve done will have a positive impact on the future of this school. I hope that I’ve done something worthwhile and helped to build a community here. And most importantly, I hope that I’ve made a splash.