After graduating from Seymour High School on Sunday, senior Zoie Cooley has plans to change the world, and the sky isn’t the limit. It’s where she’ll start.
At 18, Cooley has enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and will leave for basic training in the fall at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.
Joining the military wasn’t on her radar until 2018. Not really knowing what career she wanted to pursue after graduation, she decided on the Air Force because it will expose her to different options in the medical field.
And she wants to travel the world, she said.
Even though she’s excited about new adventures, she will miss being a student at SHS.
"High school has taught me a lot in these short four years, and I’m grateful for all the opportunities I have been given," she said.
She has spent her time being a well-rounded student with involvement in a variety of extracurricular activities all while remaining authentically true to herself.
Cooley was a performing dancer and assistant at STEPS Dance Center in Seymour. She marched in the school’s color guard, was in band and choir and ran track and cross-country.
She also became a mentor through the Big Brothers Big Sisters lunch buddy program and was a peer mentor in the Special Olympics Champions Together program through Seymour Community School Corp.
Although busy, Cooley also found time to earn her certified nursing assistant license from Ivy Tech Community College and through work-based learning opportunities worked at Schneck Medical Center and Lutheran Community Home.
She did all of this while keeping her grades up and maintaining honor roll status.
This summer, she plans to continue to work at the local nursing home and serve as a lifeguard at Shields Park Pool.
Graduation is a perfect time to reflect on how she got to this point in her life, she said.
When she walks across the stage to accept her diploma, Cooley said she will be thinking about all of her accomplishments and the people who her helped her along the way.
"I appreciate all the teachers, coaches and family support I have received," she said.
Cooley said although all of her teachers have inspired and supported her in her time at SHS, the teacher that influenced her the most was speech teacher Tim Perry.
"He looks past the subject he is teaching," she said. "He educated his classes about pop culture, global news, music and unique vocabulary. Mr. Perry really makes it a point to know about his students, and that makes a difference in the classroom."
The best advice she got from Perry was to, "Be mindful, don’t have a mind full," she said.
Her advice to the next class of seniors is not to take time for granted.
"Don’t blink and always have fun," she said.
She also said it’s important to be kind to other students.
"Make friends with underclassmen," she said. "They look up to you."
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Name: Zoie Cooley
School: Senior at Seymour High School
Activities: Dancer and assistant at STEPS Dance Center, color guard, band, choir, track and field, cross-country, mentor through the Big Brothers Big Sisters lunch buddy program, peer mentor in the Special Olympics Champions Together program
Future plans: U.S. Air Force
Family: Parents, Jenny Ray and Jason Cooley; sister, Ava Cooley
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What: Seymour High School commencement
When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday; an interdenominational baccalaureate service will precede the graduation program at 12:45 p.m. at First Baptist Church
Where: Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium
Who: 355 students will graduate. Valedictorian/class president, Delaney Cummings; salutatorian/class vice president, Emma Ramp; and senior class secretary Payton Reasoner will welcome family members and guests. The class will be led into the gymnasium by Cummings and class treasurer Dalton Polley.