Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight: Holdrege's Natalie Reed

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight: Holdrege's Natalie Reed

By Tyler Dahlgren

Natalie Reed’s glass is half-full, and she likes to keep it that way.

The Holdrege senior has a hard time describing how she felt when her school, and every school in the state and across the country, went into lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure, there was sadness and disbelief and, admittedly, a few tears. Frustration and confusion, too.

But through all of those feelings, that perspective, served with a side of positivity, persisted. An outlook illuminated by a refreshing ray of optimism.

“I felt, and I don’t know what the right word would be, just very grateful for the time that I did have,” she said. “I’m trying to look at it with a positive mindset and acknowledge all of the experiences and opportunities that I’ve had here."

Natalie is the Senior Class President. She’s involved in a long list of school activities and has never received a grade below an A. She grew up in Holdrege, attended kindergarten in the district, and can’t think of a better place to learn and blossom as a student and as a person.

“The teachers are really devoted to their students and they pay special attention to every single kid and don’t leave anybody out,” Reed said. “I just have had a great experience.”

In addition to serving as class president as a senior, an honor she carried as a sophomore, too, before spending her junior year as vice president, Reed has been a member of the dance team for all four of her high school years. She guesses that down the road, when she reflects on her senior year of high school, memories of placing second at state for her team’s high kick routine will wash away March, April and May’s misfortunes.

“We worked really hard on that routine and put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into preparing it and had some rough practices,” Reed said. “That was a really special moment for us.”

She’ll remember running Student Council meetings and helping to select the Class of 2020’s motto.

“While that might not seem too important, it was fun to get to choose that and it’s nice to know that my class viewed me as a leader and trusts me with those decisions,” she added.

She’ll remember making the best of a difficult situation. She’ll remember looking on the bright side. Her room is likely cleaner than it’s ever been and she’s picked up more shifts at the physical therapy clinic in town, where community members have repeatedly shown support for Reed and her fellow seniors.

“I’ve felt very supported,” she said. “Everybody that I’ve talked to (at work) has asked ‘How’s everything going? Are you alright?’ and said ‘I’m so sorry all of this is happening.’”

Her teachers have been there every step of the way, too. Just an email or a phone call away. Her school has continued to serve meals to children in the community, a sign of a strong culture enduring an unprecedented circumstance.

“Every single teacher I’ve had has taught me some sort of life lesson outside of the classroom,” said Reed. “I’m really thankful for all of the opportunities I’ve had. I’m grateful for all of the teachers that I’ve had throughout the years.”

Those years have been full for Reed, who’s also involved in Concert Choir, Quiz Bowl, One Act, the spring play and cheerleading. Juggling extracurriculars with a perfect GPA and work hasn’t always been a walk in the park, but, for Reed, the intrigue lives in the challenge.

“I don’t want to say I’m afraid of failure, but I’ve always tried to hold myself to a really high standard,” Reed said. “There have been sleepless nights, just to make sure I always got everything done. I never wanted to leave an assignment halfway done. I always tried to do the whole thing, to do everything to the best that I could.”

The effort put in and the relationships built. More than the accomplishments, that’s what she’s most proud of, the way each activity helped shape her into the person she is now. A month away from graduating high school and tackling the future.

In the fall, Natalie will attend the University of Nebraska-Kearney. She plans to major in biology with an emphasis in health science, and would love to incorporate psychology into her studies, too.

“I’m just excited to get the whole college experience and see all of the things that Kearney has to offer,” she said.

And while her life has changed in so many ways in the last month, a lot of things have stayed the same. Her friends still send each other funny memes, much needed breaks for laughter, and her family has been there to lean on, much like they’ve always been.

“My family has done a really good job of supporting me and understanding that I am going through something difficult right now,” she said, before looking once again on the bright side, and smiling.

"My parents did get us a puppy, so there's one really good thing to come from all of this."