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Studious Seniors Graduate with Academic Honors and Sports Achievements Amidst Coronavirus

Senior year looked a little different this spring semester for local high school athletes and honor graduates: Andra Enache, Riley Whitesides and Kara Lindsey. The final months leading up to graduation were spent at home managing a new way of life with virtual learning. It was a challenge and disappointing not to experience those final months, but their journey ends with a rainbow – all three seniors got to walk on stage for graduation. The social distancing ceremony came with a limit on how many family members could attend and students wore masks until they got on stage. With outstanding academic GPAs and athletic accomplishments, these young ladies stood out in a cap and gown. Despite graduating during this historical time, the studious seniors are excited to close the book on high school and enter a new chapter.

Andra Enache – Hillcrest High School

Andra Enache

Hillcrest High School heroine, Andra Enache, has a mythological talent for track, cross-country and keeping an academic GPA of 5.319. Not only did she graduate with the honor of saludatorian, she was involved in Spanish Honor Society, National Society and International Club, as well as sharing her talents on stage in theatrical plays. Juggling extracurricular activities, academics and sports took a certain mindset, and sacrifice is how she managed to reach the finish line.
Although Enache was born and raised in Greenville, she’s a first generation American! Her parents are Romanian, “We have family here and they wanted to give us the best opportunities we could have,” she says. Cooking and music are two of her favorite things! There’s nothing she loves more than making meatless meals, “My favorite hobby is cooking because it’s relaxing for me. I love making meatless meals with different kinds of protein,” she shares. Discovering new music also makes her day. Some favorite genres are pop, and music in Spanish or French.

To keep herself sane during the chaos of school and sports, she had to keep a positive mentality, “I didn’t have to do both. I wanted to do both. I pushed myself to make the right sacrifices for what I wanted. A lot of denying going out and choosing to go on a run on the weekend instead of going to a movie.”
This fall, the surrounding lakes and mountains at Furman University will inspire Enache. She will major in theater to become an actor. She explains, “My goal is to do film and TV but I don’t want to limit myself. I plan to move to a place that has lots of opportunities for actors.” On what she loves about acting, “The ability to be creative and do whatever you want, be whoever,” she explains. The most important thing she hopes to achieve is to have an impact on people and create a legacy. Enache mentions, “In high school, I tried to get involved in a lot to make a change.” She shares how she achieved success, “Reaching your goals is about how hard you’re willing to work for them.” The best advice she’d give underclassmen, “The only thing keeping you from being what you want to be is your own person. If life doesn’t take you where you want to end up, there’s still something you can do about it,” she says. A combination of her leadership skills and talents will definitely earn her a standing ovation in the future.

Riley Whitesides – Mauldin High School

Mauldin High School graduate and Volleyball aficionado, Riley Whitesides, earned a 4.5 GPA and a tournament champion title with superhuman skills. On average, her club volleyball team would win four tournaments every season. At Mauldin High, her team won tournaments at Dorman High and Eastside High. Practice helped fine-tune her volleyball skills so much, she will be playing college ball! She also managed to be in the National Honors Society and took extra studies to become career ready. Being goal-oriented and serving teammates kept her focused on taking home victory. The experiences she’s had in high school will help light the torch to a bright future.

Whitesides is a Greenville native with six siblings! Her mom, Heather, and step dad, Phil Justice are also parents to Olivia, Faith, Hannah, JC, Luke and Ellis. Along with a full house of sisters and brothers, Whitesides has two dogs including a Great Dane, Rev, and Chihuahua mix named Skeeter. Two felines, Polly and Lucky, are also Whitesides’ residents. Hanging out with friends and family, playing cards and watching movies are her favorite activities. Attending her final semester online was a disappointment, “That was kind of weird. I was excited about those last couple months. It was sad because I wanted to walk the halls one more time.” Graduation was also interesting; “I had to wear a mask until I got on stage. I got two tickets for my two parents. The rest of my family sat and watched the live stream at Grandma’s house.”

With impressive intellectual and volleyball abilities, Whitesides is already ahead of the game when it comes to accomplishing goals. She explains, “I’m super goal-oriented. They are a big part of my life. I love to complete goals, that’s the most satisfying thing.” Time management was the greatest factor in her success, “It was hard. I had to be really intentional about time management. If I had practice that day, if I had extra time in class or after school, I’d study. I’d do all my work ahead of time.” She found ways to make it fun by using flash cards and turning studying into a game by using quizlet. She loves the game of volleyball and assisting her teammates, “I love putting people on my back and taking them to a victory,” she says. The best advice she could give underclassmen is, “When you surround yourself with friends, pick wisely because you become who you hang out with. Work hard, be yourself, stay smart and make good decisions.”

The month of June will be spent celebrating graduation at her friend’s parties. She’ll also continue to work at a warehouse packing medical supplies including test tubes for the coronavirus! Since she will be playing volleyball for the University of South Carolina, she is supposed to head to college in mid-July. Once school starts, its game on, “I’m majoring in international business at South Carolina. I’m interested in the careers that could go along with that,” she explains. Every position she’s held and goal she’s achieved has led to this moment. She’s just one volleyball spike away from scoring the life of her dreams.

Kara Lindsey – Woodmont High School

Woodmont High School warrior, Kara Lindsey, graduated with valedictorian honors while mastering pool strokes on swim team and long hauls on the lacrosse field. She maintained a 5.292 GPA as team captain on the swim team and won MVP defensive player for her lacrosse team! Even though she frequently stopped to study throughout the year, her achievements prove she is unstoppable. The only way she could manage everything was to keep going and occasionally come up for air.

The tremendous teen was born and raised in Simpsonville to parents, Keith and Chris. Her family members include Cameron, Connor and Border Collie Spaniel mix, Toby. Responsibilities were sometimes overwhelming, but she kept a sense of humor, “My favorite class is biology unless you count lunch as a subject,” she says. Besides playing sports and being active, she explains she goes out to eat with friends, “Way too much for my bank account to handle!” One of her other favorite activities is attending bonfires with friends. Somehow, she also found time to satisfy her needs as an artist by painting and drawing. She mentions her final semester during covid was tough, “I had virtual learning and finishing the last few months was a whole lot harder to find the motivation to do work when you’re at your house, especially when you know you’re so close to being done with high school.”

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It took the support from her family and self-motivation to balance school and sports, “I want to make them proud. I want to do well to prove to myself you got this girl. I’ve always wanted to work hard now so I have options in the future,” she explains. When it came to pushing herself, Lindsey shares, “School and sports played off each other. It was hard to stay motivated in the off-season. Having so many crazy things helped me be more productive.” The best advice she could give underclassmen is, “Always work hard and push yourself to do your best and enjoy all of the little moments. Those moments can disappear in an instant. That’s what we learned from Covid,” she says.

Summer plans consist of travel to Washington state and Rhode Island to see family. She also intends to have some fun-in-the-sun at Myrtle Beach with her best buds. Once covid settles down, she’ll go back to her part-time job as a waitress. Lindsey will major in bioengineering at Clemson University in the fall. Afterwards, she’ll attend med school to become a doctor. Either way, the future holds endless opportunities for her to dive into success.

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