CONWAY — Kendall Fillippino, 18, admits she likes “to be in charge.” It’s why the senior at St. Joseph School in Conway has willingly led several school activities and volunteered for more responsibilities than the average student — running the AV booth during school Masses, the school’s Cyber Cafe, co-president of her senior class and playing goalie for the girl’s soccer team senior year when they needed more players. It’s a way to give back to her school.
“We’re all like a big family,” she said.
Fillippino, the only child of parents Anthony and Tonja Fillippino, started attending St. Joseph in preschool.
Fillippino has been the head student running the Cyber Cafe, selling snacks to students, stocking and ordering more inventory, creating the menu and counting the money.
“It was part of a class we did in ninth grade to learn about business and everything. I helped out my 11th-grade year and 12th-grade year,” she said. “I get there at 7:25 a.m. every morning. I set everything up; I help count money, help see what we need” and take snack orders from 7:30 a.m. to 7:55 a.m. each school day.
As the co-president of her senior class, she served on the crest committee to help design the senior crest. They chose the Bible verse 2 Timothy 4:7-8.
“We fought the good fight, and we made it through despite COVID,” she recalled, which impacted her early high school years.
Academically, Fillippino earned the Walter Cronkite Journalism Excellence Award as the top student in her journalism class, helping to edit morning announcements, finalizing the yearbook and live-streaming sporting events last year.
This year, she ran the AV booth for school Masses, making sure the words to songs, prayers and Scripture appeared on the large screens during Mass and controlling the microphones throughout the sanctuary. She also helps assist during some 10:30 a.m. weekend Masses
“If I have any extra time before Mass officially starts and I finish setting everything up, I usually go into the adoration chapel,” Fillippino said. “I go in there and have my own prayer time before Mass starts.”
Her successes are anchored in hard work and understanding from her teachers in the Catholic school setting.
“I have severe ADHD. I have a very hard time sitting still. The good thing about St. Joe’s is it’s so small. The teachers know I have ADHD. The teachers let me stand up and walk around class if I need to,” Fillippino said. “I get extra time on tests because it’s harder for me to focus. I have a hard time with reading. ADHD people can have a bit of dyslexia.”
“I’m extremely grateful,” she added, that the teachers at St. Joseph helped accommodate her.
In the fall, Fillippino will attend the University of Central Arkansas in Conway to pursue a career in nursing, in either pediatrics or labor and delivery.
“I’ve always been called to help someone. Especially with how many nurses they don’t have right now, I feel like me doing anything will help,” she said.
Reflecting on her years at St. Joseph, she said she’s “more spiritual than I used to be” and takes to heart what one teacher told her: “Never give up and keep fighting for what you believe in.”
Most of all, she wants her classmates to remember she was giving.
“That I was the person who gave them free food from the Cyber Cafe; I would pay for their snacks,” Fillippino said.
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