Around Thanksgiving break of her junior year, Courtney Benefiel, who is now a senior at Carroll Jr.-Sr. High School, started to feel stressed by the pressure of her schoolwork.
After missing 14 school days between late November and early December, she knew she had to make up the work she missed.
“I started to feel a tremendous amount of stress and felt depressed,” Benefiel said. “It was a low period.”
During a two-week period before Christmas break, Benefiel made up all homework she missed.
And now, Benefiel is happy to report she’ll graduate on June 2.
It wasn’t an easy process to get here, she said. To get out from under the stress she felt, Benefiel worked to rearrange her classes and changed her schedule to make sure what was making her anxious was taken out of the equation. She also had support from her mother and Kris Seward, guidance director at Carroll High School.
“I knew from that experience I never wanted to do that again,” Benefiel said. “It’s hard to come back from that.”
Seward said Benefiel is a perfectionist and they worked to take that stress away.
“If you look at her writing or anything she does, you can tell she is a perfectionist,” Seward said. “There are a lot of people out there who do this and go through this. We worked through the stress she had and how to handle it.”
Another senior who has had a bumpy road to reaching the graduation stage is Jasmine McPeters. After she became pregnant her junior year, she nearly dropped out. But with help from her church, New Hope Community Church — where fellow members agreed to watch her daughter, Madalyn Leeanne Hicks — McPeters returned to finish school.
“I cry for a minute every time I think about it because I’m so happy I can still graduate,” McPeters said.
Sleep eludes McPeters often, but she now has a new perspective on high school.
“The experience has made me appreciate school more,” McPeters said. “I’ve received so much support from my teachers, friends and family.”
Like Seward, McPeters says the support of family and friends was vital to her being able to graduate.
“I would tell someone going through a similar situation that you have friends and family who will help you,” McPeters said. “Going to church also helps.”
As for advice from Benefiel, she would tell people not to let stress consume them.
“Try not to let stress influence you so much that it makes it hard to recover,” Benefiel said. “Don’t get bogged down on the details. It will be fine.”
After graduating, McPeters is considering attending an art institute or looking into radiology. Benefiel will be going to Purdue University to study psychology or agri-business management.
Seward said students like Benefiel and McPeters reaffirm the work the school faculty is doing.
“This is why we’re here,” Seward said. “Even with supportive families, all students need additional guidance. It’s the best feeling to help, and it lets you know and verifies why you’re here.”
Amie Sites is a community news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732—5150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the valedictorian
• Parents: Troy and Alice Bowers
• Town: Burlington
• Awards: Top Scholar Award, Citizenship Award, Commended National Merit Scholar, Hoosier Heartland math bowl individual, team conference champion
• Clubs: Key club, Cougar Pals mentoring program, volunteer at St. Joseph Hospital and Bona Vista Programs, student council
• Sports: Wrestling, cross country, track, swimming
• College attending: University of Notre Dame
• Major: Mathematics
If you go
• WHERE: Carroll Jr.-Sr. High School
• WHAT: High school graduation
• WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday, June 2