Taking up the Mantle: Juniors Prep to Take Leadership Roles


With less than six weeks left, the Class of 2016 is preparing to get out into the world. For those seniors in leadership positions, the last few weeks are for cementing their legacy — and for finding their replacements.

Juniors this year will be seniors during the 2016-17 school year and they’ll be taking control of their organizations and teams. For some juniors, the challenge is daunting. For some, it’s what they’ve been waiting for.

Alan Ali has been helping head the offensive line on the TCHS Football team for almost a year now. Next year, he’ll be leading, and the challenge is something he’s been ready for.

“I’m looking forward to trying to win a district championship and finish my season with my brothers,” said Ali in an interview with the Talon. “I expect us to give everything we have every single play, and never let anything get us down or tear us apart.”

Ali says the seniors who inspired him to lead are Max Patton and Nathan Craig.

For the past two years, Benton Westbrook has been Drum Major for the TCHS Marching Band. Next year will be his last. Westbrook knew he wanted to be Drum Major since he was a young child. As a leader, he has high expectations for his senior year.

“I hope to implement systems that will allow for the student leadership and the band to work like a self-operating machine,” said Westbrook. “It’s important to take ownership of the program and take pride in what they themselves have accomplished.”

The senior that inspires Westbrook to lead is Blake Wells.

“I think he has grown to be a very strong leader,” said Wells. “He loves the band program, and wants to do anything in his power to make it as good as possible.”

“We have the potential to make some really big things happen.” — Junior Rachel Bridges.

Rachel Bridges is a powerhouse at TCHS. In her junior year she reached All-State level for the second consecutive year for powerlifting, as well as making the TCHS Varsity Football Team and throwing shot and disc for the track team. This year she secured captaincy of the Wrestling Team. Next year, as a senior, she has high hopes.

“We have the potential to make some really big things happen,” said Bridges.

Bridges pointed out Elise Hodges and Jamie Patterson as the seniors that inspire her to succeed.

“I think Rachel already possesses the qualities it takes to be a leader,” said Hodges. “I’m excited to see everything she’ll accomplish with her leadership skills. With her natural ‘go-get-em’ attitude and spirit, there is no limit to what she can accomplish.”

Even the Talon is gearing up for a change. A large portion of the editors are seniors, including current Editor-in-Chief Brelee McClelland. Next year, the position will be filled by Jonathan Samudio.

“I wanted to last year. There was a thought in my head like ‘this will be cool,’ I didn’t know how it would work, but I know I wanted to,” said Samudio. “I don’t want to be just another cog in the machine. I want to give myself purpose and give others purpose.”

McClelland is the senior that inspires Samudio to lead.

“I’m excited. I’m excited to see how much he can progress from this year to next year,” said McClelland. “At first, I have to admit, when I saw him editing something, I freaked out and kept saying to myself ‘go help him, go help him’ but he figured it out. I trust him.”

Seniors are graduating. For some, that means being separated from families they’ve made in the past four years. As they travel out into the adult world, they leave an important legacy for the underclassmen that follow them.

Thankfully, there are some incredible juniors ready to step up to the plate and take the reigns. With a world of possibility lying just in reach, juniors only need to reach out and take it–hopefully before the senioritis hits.