The legacy of being a PAL

Shezal Padani, Staff Writer

     With vibrant balloons and a congratulation letter, the new PALS students have finally been announced. After weeks of anxiety, an in depth application and a selective interview process, 24 students have been selected to continue the legacy of PALS into the next school year. Junior Megan Rund said getting to this point was not easy. A majority of the members were eliminated, and only some of those who made it past the application process were called in for an interview held by current senior PALS students.

     “During the interview I was pretty nervous because I really wanted to make PALS,” Rund said. “I tried to stay calm, and I felt like they were all really nice throughout the interview too, so that really helped.”

     According to senior Thomas Langford, it was important to make the students feel as comfortable as possible throughout the interview. Langford said he knew ahead of time the right questions to ask the applicants to get them to open up, so he could see their true personalities.  

     “They asked me about drugs and alcohol because they want people who are going to be able to stand up to that kind of stuff,” junior Hannah Vogt said. “They were looking for answers that showed responsibility, and they also wanted to see your personality and character come through. You were encouraged to be honest and open, tell them what you thought would be good ideas for next year and why you wanted to participate.”

     Langford said that although it was important to make sure the applicants were at ease during the interview process, he was also looking for certain characteristics in people that would make them a good PAL.

     “We had to make sure that they were in it for benefitting the community and that they really have a passion for volunteering,” Langford said. “We look for someone who is strong in what they believe in and who is not going to fall into peer pressure.”

     Vogt said that she believes she has the qualities that are expected in a PAL and said that she is ready to go above and beyond the typical standards of a PAL member.

     “What makes me a PAL is my integrity and standing up for who I am and what I think,” Vogt said. “I am someone who is also very service-oriented and I want to help the school. I think that is what they look for and I can see it in myself.”

     Langford said that he and his fellow PALS put in a lot of thought as to which applicants would be accepted.

     “By the time it got to the process of choosing who to interview, all of the people we interviewed would make good PALS,” Langford said. “They were all good, kind-hearted people. It’s just that we saw that some of the people were really outgoing, outspoken, ‘I’m ready to volunteer’ kind of people and those are great people, but you can’t make an entire classroom of that. You have to have diversity. We had to find the other people who might have been a little shy. We thought it would be really good for them to be in PALS and step out and be more willing to help others. We had to make a mix out of it and pick the people who would either get the most out of it or put the most into PALS.”

     Langford said they also had to consider the human aspect of it — that the person might have been nervous or something bad might have happened to them recently. He said that although they might not have had the best interview, they were still good people. He said he feels confident in the applicants that were chosen.

     “I feel as though they are a lot of different people with different volunteering experience and different personalities who will coincide into one group and do a lot of great things at the school next year,” Langford said.

     Langford said that it is a problem that many of the PALS do not know each other yet.

     “In a year they will be exactly as we are,” Langford said. “We are all best friends with people that we had never met or even seen before. That group of PALS will learn to become more social with each other, learn more about each other and make friends with people that if it wasn’t for PALS they might have never gotten to know.”

     Vogt said that she is not only excited to meet the other PALS next year, but that being in PALS will help her grow and mature.

     “It will be cool to make those bonds and use them to help out the community and Plano especially,” Vogt said. “I am also looking forward to being an example for other people and setting the standard for what they should be doing. The senior PALS have high expectations for us, and I am excited to grow into that expectation.”

     Rund said that she is planning on continuing the legacy of PALS into next year.

     “They expect us to carry on some of the traditions that PALS have and continue to make Plano a great school, as amazing as it already is,” Rund said. “I plan on being a role model through my daily actions. The way I talk to people, the way I work in school, my work ethic and my caring nature of helping other students when they need it are important for being a PAL.”

     Langford said that he has high hopes for PALS next year and said he believes that the new PALS will pass down the legacy and uphold the tradition of being a role model for other students.

     “There isn’t a set goal that you raise this much money or you help this many people,” Langford said. “But I hope that next year they look at their time in PALS and say to themselves ‘I’ve done all that I can and I wouldn’t trade in anything for it. I’ve made a really big difference and am really proud of what I have done.’”