As a senior at North Canyon High School who has been part of the Paradise Valley Unified School District for nine years, Lauren O’Donnell is no stranger to working hard and making the most of her educational experience.  Aside from being in the International Baccalaureate programme and taking Advanced Placement classes for college credit, Lauren attributes her overall positive academic experience with her participation in many extracurricular activities, including marching band, jazz band and Varsity softball to name a few.  According to Lauren, these activities enabled her to “learn a great deal about leadership and multitasking” and helped her grow strong bonds and friendships.

Lauren praises her favorite class, concert band, with giving her the opportunity to work together as part of of a team and really express her creativity. While she credits all of her teachers with having a positive influence along her educational journey, she praises her band director, Mr. Suehiro, with teaching her a lot about dedication, perseverance and work ethic. “He has helped me with important auditions for college and has given me plenty of advice on majoring in music in college and my next steps in life as a musician. He always takes time out of his busy schedule to stay after school to help his students,” she said.

As a member of North Canyon’s International Baccalaureate programme since 7th grade, Lauren is confident that all of her hard work in this program has prepared her for college life and beyond and she isn’t alone. According to Lauren, “several of her former North Canyon alumni also credit the program with helping to make their college years an easier transition from high school.” With the help of college credits she earned along the way through her Advanced Placement courses, Lauren is excited and looking forward to having the opportunity to take more classes within her major early on in college.  

During her educational journey at PVSchools, Lauren also successfully overcame her fear of public speaking. “It wasn’t until I started playing solos in band class that I really started to gain confidence when standing up in front of a group by myself,” she says. She quickly learned that the only way to conquer her fears was to face them head on and Lauren did just that!  She took every opportunity to take every solo that was offered to her in band class and every audition for any ensemble she could. Through this process she learned that while “the fear of performing solo or speaking alone never entirely goes away-it does get a little less frightening each time you do it.”  Her advice to future PV students is to “go out there and face your fears because you’ll never know something is for you unless you try it and explore all of your options until you find your niche!” Lauren will be doing just that when she plays the Star-Spangled Banner at her upcoming gradation this May.

She attributes her positive educational experience at PVSchools with the many teachers that have “taught her more life lessons than any textbook alone ever could,” including invaluable lessons about discipline, perseverance and respect to name a few.  Lauren is attending the University of Arizona in the fall and is planning on majoring in music education.