For LaFayette High School valedictorian Lauren Pike, traveling has become a perk of being so actively involved in civic organizations. The 18-year-old, who will study agricultural communication at the University of Georgia in Athens in the fall, has been active in 4-H, Key Club, student government and anything else for which she could volunteer or run.
Pike has participated in numerous contests and events and served as the Kentucky-Tennessee district governor for Key Club International and on the Senior Board of Directors for the Northwest District of Georgia 4-H. Through her 4-H participation, she has taught classes to elementary school students.
She was traveling so much in middle school, her parents — Steve and Cindy Pike — realized she was not likely to slow down and they were not going to be able to go everywhere with her.
"Once I hit seventh or eighth grade, my parents said, 'OK, have fun.'"
Not all of her travels evoke happy memories, however, as Pike was at a conference in Atlanta last July when her mother died unexpectedly.
LaFayette High counselor Gwen Gregory calls Pike "an outstanding young lady" who handled the tragedy with remarkable maturity and focus.
She "does everything extra that is possible in order for her to grow and to learn," she wrote in an email describing Pike. "It is difficult to list her accomplishments. Just days before the beginning of her senior year, her mother passed away unexpectedly, but Lauren continued to push forward to take college classes while in high school, complete her high school requirements and participate in her many activities."
Through those activities, Pike found she likes to talk or, more accurately, that she likes to communicate, which is talking with a purpose, she said.
"I liked public speaking and I found I had to communicate with senators and public officials, and I learned I loved that, whether verbally or online," she said.
She also learned she loved to travel while attending the many organizational meetings, seminars, workshops and conferences related to the many groups of which she was part. She has traveled all across the country and loves big cities like Los Angeles and Indianapolis as much as she does small ones like Amarillo, Texas, or LaFayette, Georgia.
"When I get to a city, being so young I can't rent a car, so I Uber or take a taxi when I can. Or I go walking. Sometimes I stay with a host family and I can borrow a car. I love the touristy things, but also the lesser-known things. In Amarillo, I went to the Cadillac Ranch [a public art installation], which was beautiful."
She said she likes getting out and seeing the difference between the states she visits and the different ways people do things — even the different ways they hold and organize conferences.
She said she is just as adventurous when it comes to trying new cuisines, but "I won't eat anything that is still moving, like crickets. I like the mom-and-pop places, but sometimes fast food is just easier."
Being named valedictorian has been a goal since "oh, about kindergarten, I guess," she said.
With all of her activities, when did she find time to study?
"Ha. My friends joke that I must be nocturnal. I study a lot of times at night, on planes, or in the car on trips.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.