Carrying their legacy

Seniors share high school experience

The electives students pick during their high school career shape who they become in the future. With high school coming to an end, seniors reflect on how their electives formed who they are today.

Emma Tran

Emma Tran poses in her senior year, a co-captain on the Hebron Cheer team. She has cheered for eight consecutive years. (provided by Emma Tran)

Her love for cheerleading began in the seventh grade. Hebron cheerleaders came to Arbor Creek to perform for the pep rally. Watching from the audience, she realized she wanted to become one of them. Now, senior Emma Tran is a co-captain and flier for the Hebron Cheer team. 

“My favorite part of cheer is probably competing,” Tran said. “We compete a few times in school cheer, and I also do competitive cheer outside of school. I just love the adrenaline rush, the nerves [and] the butterflies in my stomach. I love being able to react on those nerves by performing and showing off all the hard work that I’ve put into the routine.”

Tran began her route to becoming a cheerleader by being a gymnast. After seeing her cousin join cheer, Tran thought it would be a good change. She has cheered for eight years outside of school for Spirit of Texas and is on the Royal Guns team, all while cheering with Hebron Cheer for four years.

“The biggest lesson that I learned from cheer is learning how to be a part of a team,” Tran said. “In cheerleading, every person on the team is useful in their own way and brings their own energy and skill to the team. It’s about learning to be a team player while also individually being a good athlete.”

Cheer practice takes place during fourth period and after school. Tran and the team practice their cheer routines to perform at football games, prep rallies and UIL competitions. 

“The summer going into my senior year, varsity was just the best team ever,” Tran said. “We worked so cohesively, we all got along [and] we all felt like best friends. The bond on the team is just nothing compared to any bond I’ve ever felt. I feel [that] we are such a talented team. [It felt as if it] was just two great powers, the talent and the bond, that just came together and just made the best team ever.”

Tran said she hopes to cheer at the University of Oklahoma. She has gotten through the first round of tryouts and will start the second round of tryouts this month.

“Cheer has definitely taught me many life lessons that I will take with me beyond college,” Tran said. “It’s not only taught me time management skills, but also [how to] persevere. [Cheer also taught me] how to be a hard worker, a good athlete [and a] good person.”

Govind Pattathil

Debate vice president Raina Karakkattil, co-captain Govind Pattathil and president Krish Shah stand with their awards after a debate tournament. Pattathil has been participating in debate since the beginning of middle school. (Photo provided by Govind Pattathil)

Following in the footsteps of a friend, he not only became inspired to join debate, but he began inspiring others. Throughout high school, debate co-captain Govind Pattathil went from a beginner to an author of his book, “The Extemper’s Bible.”

“Debate was an activity where I could use my voice to talk about stuff I [found] meaningful,” Pattathil said. ‘There’s a lot of issues currently going on in society and I feel like a large amount [of the] issues [are] often [ignored]. Whenever we talk about those issues, [it] is when there can be advancement. I feel like [debate has] been a way for me to talk about important issues that I hold dear, and see what can be done with them.”

Last year, Pattathil co-wrote a book with senior Krish Shah in hopes of helping students grow in debate who are in extemp. The book is available in the Library and on Amazon for those who are interested in learning how to build speech and debate skills.

“Hebron is a small school when it comes to speech and debate, so we don’t have a lot of the resources that many other schools do,” Pattathil said. “We want to make sure that [the] people and students who are joining debate [and] don’t have those resources, whether they’re coming from Hebron or other schools, can have something that they can look [for to] learn and grow in.”

With an early start to debate in sixth grade, Pattathil has been competing in extemp for seven years. Extemp is one of the many activities in debate that consists of writing and memorizing a seven minute speech in 30 minutes. 

“I remember the state tournament [I attended] sophomore year,” Pattathil said. “It was [a] really enjoyable experience for me because that’s the first time that I realized maybe I can continue doing [debate] with some degree of success to it.”

Pattathil practices for debate on Tuesdays after school, which consists of the group talking about political events that may have happened in the past week. These practices also allow Pattathil and debate members to work on their speeches or simple drills. With college around the corner, Pattathil has committed to the University of Texas at Austin where he will major in Business. 

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is just don’t think you know everything, because you don’t,” Pattathil said. “A lot of the issues we see in society are really complex issues. When you see the opposing view, [you] understand that there’s more to the story.”

Kyler Beck

Seniors Kyler Beck and Emma Foughty pose before the 2023 homecoming parade. The two were nominated for the homecoming court and rode on the back of a convertible. Beck plans to pursue theater in college. (Emma Short)

Being in the entertainment industry and participating in shows from a young age, he was consumed with characters coming to life. Starting his first shows in kindergarten in a theater program called Kid Stage, senior Kyler Beck has now acted in 12 shows in his years at Hebron alone.

“I think how I fell in love with theater was that I always wanted to find the different sides and personalities of people,” Beck said. “When you take on those roles, and you discover those parts of yourself, it makes you a more well-rounded human being. You put yourself in other people’s shoes that have been in similar situations. That’s why I like it.”

After transferring in the middle of freshman year and dealing with COVID-19, Beck was able to act in his first Hebron show: “The Laramie Project.” Beck said theater allowed him to find his true self and create friendships. 

“I think I’ve grown in pacing, diction and finding [my] beats and tactics,” Beck said. “Thinking about ‘The Laramie Project,’ when I performed that, I felt [like] I was rushing and trying to put out this energy to do the show and be the character. Now, I take the moments [in] more and really relax into the role.”

During rehearsals for musicals, Beck works on the music and staging; for plays, Beck works on truly understanding the character and its background. In the beginning of freshman year, Beck was on the cross country team, but after realizing the passion he had for performing, he switched to being only in choir and theater. 

“I was in class one day and was performing a monologue — [it was a] dramatic, intense and a crazy monologue where I’m yelling at my dad because he did something insane,” Beck said. “The director was coaching me through it and he had said to do it again. I don’t know, I just did it in a different way and made a discovery – it just felt really cool. I felt [that] I [had gotten] to the next level of acting. I just hit something that I’ve never felt before.”

Beck is one of the six council members in Thespian Troupe 6069, which is Hebron’s branch of the International Thespian Society. He plans on pursuing theater in college by either committing to Penn State for musical theater or Carnegie Mellon for acting.

“My favorite part of theater is the people because [they] really make or break a show or an ensemble,” Beck said. “Meeting all these different people and seeing what they’ve been through and just how fun they are, it can be really nice to talk to them. [These] people come together to make a show [and] you’re all putting in your best work to make this [a] creation.”

Suhani Rana

Head drum major Suhani Rana poses in front of the Hebron Band wall. Rana hopes to play in the band at University of Texas at Dallas. (Shiren Noorani)

It was middle school night. 

After being told to be in orchestra by her parents, she saw the band perform at a football game, and the moment she heard the music of the instruments during the halftime show, she knew that band was her calling. Now head drum major Suhani Rana has been playing the flute for seven years.

“Before joining band, I was a very quiet kid,” Rana said. “I think because of band, I learned that everyone makes mistakes. It’s worth going out and doing something that you would think is scary because by doing that, you’re expanding your knowledge and expanding your abilities. Also getting yourself out of your comfort zone is the only way you’re going to ever change or improve.”

When Rana joined the Hebron band, she auditioned to play percussion, but right before the first day of school, she changed to playing the flute and has been playing it since. To achieve one of the highest positions in band, Rana went through a two-phase interview to see if she was ready to take on the challenge of being a drum major. Luckily, she was just the right person.

“I was planning on just being a regular member, because I knew there were different forms of leadership [and], as a freshman, I was very unaware of all the behind the scenes stuff that goes on in band,” Rana said. “Towards the end of my freshman year, they introduced a concept of student leadership and the different roles like squad leader, section leader and drum major. That’s when I realized that I have some ideas and I want them to be heard in the band.”

For Rana, after school band practices during marching season consist of leading groups of students in different instruments, teaching or learning new pieces and working on marching and music fundamentals. Her school day in the fall semester doesn’t end until around 8 p.m., when she and the other drum majors pack up, make sure that each student has been picked up from school safely and talk to the directors.

“The biggest thing I learned is time management,” Rana said. “I think [it’s] because in band, we have such strict schedules down-to-the-minute, like at 3:47 p.m. you have to be here. Using [a] similar format that the band uses [in my everyday life,] I was able to allot my time very carefully and get all my work done as well.”

If granted the opportunity, Rana said she hopes to be able to play flute with the University of Texas at Dallas band, where she will be majoring in computer science. Band has become an escape from reality for Rana and has allowed her to meet new people and travel in areas she never would have before.

“My favorite part of band is getting to know the people because everyone is so unique,” Rana said. “I love getting to talk to individual people and see their views on certain parts of band. I wouldn’t have known [facts about them] if I hadn’t talked to certain people [as a leader].”