As we anticipate the class of 2021 concluding their high school adventure, we are celebrating Baymonte alumni and their accomplishments. Join us in prayer as they transition to the next chapter of their lives! Today’s senior spotlight is Naia Neal. Here’s what Naia said about her time at Baymonte:
“Baymonte holds a special place in my heart; they’re my family. I loved the close-knit community and how the small classes allowed for personal connections and relationships with all of my peers. I loved the classes and the excitement of seeing what teacher we had each year. I loved the wonderful field trips where we got to explore outside in nature or go to the museum or even some of our bigger trips where we were able to serve at an orphanage in Mexico. I also loved the weekly chapel and having time dedicated to worshiping the Lord alongside my peers. Not to mention the occasional treat of watching other classes present their class play, where we learned about American history, ways to combat bullying, and how to pursue and maintain a healthy friendship.
Picking only one highlight from Baymonte is such a difficult task. I loved everything about my time there. If I had to choose one highlight, I think it would be from my sixth-grade year during spirit week when we were given the task of preparing a class dance. I remember the weeks of preparation were so drama-filled and stressful but also so wild and fun. I look back fondly because although my class initially struggled with unity and compromise, through the process, we learned how to be empathetic towards each other and became closer with one another. And then, after weeks of preparation, the dance was absolutely amazing! Mr. Rozeboom, the star of the show (obviously), came fully dressed in his pharaoh costume and proudly took his seat on the throne. We had some students fanning his royal highness and Bailey Matlock in her super wild blonde wig for her shining moment of being the blonde waitress. We even had some cool acrobatics and gymnastics, which really amplified the dance’s “professionalism” and pulled the performance together. I remember we were all so proud of ourselves and spent the rest of the week reminiscing about the performance. Truly such a memorable experience, and even now, I find myself going back to Youtube to watch the performance again and again.
A key element that Baymonte focused on was the integrity of work and the benefit of challenging yourself. My teachers always pushed me to do my best, not for the validation of high grades, but for the benefit of learning and growing my knowledge about a subject. I remember my seventh and eighth-grade year I took an accelerated math course, and initially, I struggled. I knew I loved math, but sometimes the concepts did not click. So I would seek my teachers’ help, which I’ve learned is a beneficial tool in pursuing academic success. Teachers want to help you learn! If there is a concept that isn’t making sense, it’s okay (and welcomed) to ask questions. Teachers want to see you succeed, and in high school, I have developed close relationships with many of my teachers because I have demonstrated a desire to learn and grow.
A highlight from my high school years was “Impact Week,” which was a week dedicated for students to do outreach through mission’ trips or participate in an educational tour on a trip. My freshman year, I was blessed with the opportunity to return to Rancho de Sus Ninos, the orphanage I served with during seventh grade at Baymonte. On this trip, I reconnected with all the friends I had made there during my first trip, and I helped build a plumbing system! I also had some of the new friends I made in high school join me on the trip, so it was very exciting that I could share the experience with them and develop a deeper bond during labor and outreach with the Rancho students. In my sophomore year, I was able to go on an educational tour in Greece, where we explored different cities and architecture and were fully immersed in the Greek community’s culture. The trip was absolutely magical! It was so cool seeing how people interacted with one another in another country and how their daily lives differed from ours here in America.
In college, I’m hoping to pursue a dance education and complete a BFA in dance/choreography so that I can enter into the world of commercial dancing, join a traveling company and eventually start my own dance studio or teach at my childhood studio. Currently, I am still auditioning for college, so I have not committed to a school yet, but my top three schools are New York University Tisch School of the Arts, the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, and California Institute of the Arts!”
Congratulations Naia! We love you and are so proud of you!