Every student has a voice and through our new student spotlight feature, we will be highlighting some of the many diverse, creative and accomplished voices of our students with Royal Voices.

The first student we are spotlighting is 13-year senior Lauren Spalding, who started at TFA in Kindergarten. Lauren is the Senior Leader of the Environmental Committee and is a National Merit Semifinalist. Of the 1.5 million juniors who took the PSAT last fall, only 16,000 students moved forward as Semifinalists in the competition, aiming to become Finalists and Scholarship Winners.

Beyond her academic success, Lauren represents TFA well in many ways as she shares her voice for the Lord.

What were the reasons you or your parents chose The First Academy? 

We fell in love with the teachers. Not only did they make us feel so welcome, but they were also so passionate about what they were teaching.

Are you involved in extracurricular activities? 

I am very active in both the environmental committee and the aquaponics lab. As the leader of this committee, I have been involved in planning events for Earth Day as well as independent research studies. I also volunteered at the Orlando Science Center for 3 years, where I was recognized for volunteering for over 100 hours. I play tennis on the varsity team here at TFA, and I was named the most improved player in my freshman year.

Which colleges are you planning to apply to or have you applied to thus far? 

I’m applying to UF, Yale, MIT, and UVA in addition to other northeastern schools.

What do you plan to study in college and what are your long-term career goals? 

I am leaning towards a major in applied physics or Astrophysics and a minor in global health or international studies. I am also considering a career in medicine.

Who are some of your favorite TFA teachers, and why?

I honestly love all of the teachers! Mrs. Oswald was a great mentor to me as the sponsor of the environmental and aquaponics committee. Ms. Pierre is such a great, supportive teacher and has been so instrumental in my extended research projects. I have had Mr. Harrison for 3 years now, and he has really allowed me to cultivate my love for both computer science and physics. Although Calculus is hard, Mrs. Markowitz has it down to a science, and I could have never done as well as I did without her. Coach Kinard has been so supportive and has provided a lot of advice for the MICAH 6:8 club.

In one sentence, what did being a student at The First Academy mean to you? 

Being a student at The First Academy means being a part of a community that works to serve and lead.

How has TFA made a difference in, or impacted your life? 

TFA has made a difference through the amount of opportunity and personal assistance I have been provided by teachers and staff. I have been given every resource I could possibly ask for to succeed.

Do you feel that The First Academy has prepared you for life after graduation? 

TFA has prepared me by providing an environment conducive to taking initiative and leadership. In my college career, I now know how to reach out to my professors, ask for help, and work collaboratively.

What is your favorite memory at TFA? 

First of all, I have really enjoyed participating in open houses, where I lead tours in the Aquaponics greenhouse. I have been a part of the program since it’s beginning, so being able to tell prospecting families about the process means so much to me. I have also loved being on the varsity tennis team for 4 years. I have found a great sense of community and support on the team.

How have you grown in your walk with Christ since coming to TFA? 

TFA has allowed me to explore my faith not only in traditional ways but in scientific ways, which really resonates with the way I view the world. TFA’s biblical curriculum goes beyond bible classes and chapel and envelops every aspect of education.

What was one spiritual insight you gained at TFA that has impacted your life the most? 

One spiritual insight I have gained is that people can truly see God through you and your actions. Showing empathy and respect as well as wisdom and insight make you stand out, and they also give you the tools to persevere in all of life’s hurdles.

What does the school year them, “Greatest of These is Love,” mean to you and how have you incorporated in your day to day life this year? 

“Greatest of these is Love” is absolutely my favorite theme we’ve ever had. I’m so thankful to have it as the theme of my senior year. It is a great reminder to not turn to hate. Instead, we must listen, respect, and advocate for others, as these actions encompass love. As Coach Kinard has told me many times this year “love covers all.”

For more on Lauren’s interests, read this Influencer Spotlight on the West Orange Observer.