Q&A with National Merit Finalist and senior Will Walker
What grade were you in when you started at CAC?
I started at CAC in 6th grade at the North Little Rock Elementary campus.
What are your plans after graduation?
After I graduate, I’m going to be attending the University of Arkansas and study under the Pre-Med program to eventually become a psychiatrist. I’ve always been fascinated by the human mind, and I love to help others.
You’ve been involved in multiple extracurricular activities throughout the years. Specifically, fine arts has been a large part of your experience at CAC. Why, do you think, were you drawn to take part in so many different creative endeavors?
I think that using creative skills and talents in choir, drama, Lights Up and other fine arts platforms is a great way to show how God has created us all uniquely and wonderfully. Especially in the process of putting on a drama production, so many people with unique skills are all able to use their strengths and pool them together to make something amazing. Those gifted in acting, building, design, leadership, technology and many other fields all have a lot to contribute to making an awesome show.
That’s really incredible. Can you speak about the impact the CAC fine arts department has had on your CAC experience?
A huge thing I’ve noticed in the fine arts department is that teachers like Mr. Kaye and Mrs. Thomas see something special in their students and work to improve their skills and bring out the best in them. In 8th grade, when I specifically put on my “Christmas Carol” audition form that I wanted a part without a solo, Mrs. Thomas gave me a small solo anyway. Believe it or not, I had the worst stage fright out of anyone back in 6th grade, and I’ve come so far as to become the lead actor in this year’s play. Mr. Kaye has always been a mentor and even a friend to me since he came to CAC my freshman year, and I have grown as a singer with him these past four years exponentially more than I ever had before that. I think the community built by every part of fine arts is really an incredible thing. Lights Up was the most tight-knit group I had ever been a part of. We were an acting troupe and did performances together, but we also were extremely open with each other about spiritual life, personal life and love for each other.
You also participated in Science Olympiad, Quiz Bowl, multiple honors societies and Mrs. Holland’s Calculus class. What was like to take part in these different academic groups?
On the academic side of things, the teachers at CAC have always had a welcoming atmosphere while learning. If there has ever been something that was difficult or something goes wrong, teachers go above and beyond to make sure you learn or succeed. In Science Olympiad and Quiz Bowl, Mr. Gafford and Mr. Schramm always made a super fun team to be a part of and always made sure we had a great time while teaching and encouraging us. They wanted us to work hard so we would succeed in our competitions and show our talents in the best way possible. In class, teachers also yearn for our success.
After I took the PSAT my junior year, Mrs. Holland asked if she could have my math section answers so that she could use her own time to show everything I did wrong so I wouldn’t make those mistakes in the future. There are so many examples of teachers at CAC taking time out of their day or starting conversations after class to make sure you understand everything or make sure you are alright.
In addition to extracurricular and academic events, you also found the time to record, edit and produce videos for the varsity Mustang football team. How did that come about? What did you enjoy from that process?
During my sophomore year there were a couple of school projects in English and Spanish where my friends and I had to make a video. I really felt like I could go above and beyond on these videos, and so I put a lot of work into editing them and making them into something great. I had a lot of fun with the process and received a lot of positive feedback from my teachers and classmates and even had upperclassmen approach me about how they liked my Spanish project. I decided that I would save my money to buy a camera and commit to doing a lot more with filmmaking and editing so I could improve my skills. I started with recording and editing Video Announcements at the beginning of my junior year. Then, after seeing a bunch of Razorback football hype videos on Instagram, my mom and I came up with the idea of trying to bring that to our school and see if people liked it. I approached Coach Shoemaker before the football season and proposed the idea to him, and he immediately said yes. My junior and senior year, I have had a blast with the football team traveling with them and getting to be such a big part of their season. I loved including as many people as possible in my videos every Friday, and I really worked hard so that the players and the rest of the school loved my results.
To be named a National Merit Finalist is an incredible honor and a testament to your hard work over the years. Congratulations! What does this mean to you?
Being named National Merit Finalist is definitely surreal to me. I’m super grateful to my amazing parents, my mentors and God for getting me here. I hope I can use this award to impact others as much as possible later in life because that’s the whole reason that God has given me the skill set and position that was needed to get here. I think it’s important as a National Merit Finalist to prioritize showing God’s gifts and love to others in everything I do and achieve throughout my life.Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
There are definitely a ton of people that I want to thank. First and foremost, I want to thank God for helping a six-week premature baby like me grow up with a great mind and giving me the ability to get to this position. I want to thank my parents for always being supportive and giving me all the pushes I needed to keep a good work ethic and attitude. I thank my mom for buying me any book I wanted for the past 14 years. I thank my dad for making me into the geek and sports fan hybrid that I am today. I thank Mr. Kaye for being my biggest mentor and teaching me almost everything I know about singing. I thank Mrs. Thomas for helping me over my fears and teaching me everything I know about acting. I thank Mrs. Posey for forcing me to lead the pledge in front of everyone back in 6th grade. I thank Coach Shoemaker for affording me the opportunity to contribute my video skills to the football team. I thank Mrs. Arnold for always loaning me books, always calling me a nerd, and also working hard (and succeeding) to appeal my result of last year’s AP Lang exam. I thank Mr. Harris, Mr. Roberts, and Dr. Vick for being some of the best spiritual mentors I’ve ever had in my life. I thank our school administration for giving me a platform to share my talents frequently. I thank my best friends and the entire class of 2021 for being encouraging of my achievements and saying so many positive things. Finally, I want to thank two of my mentors who are previous winners of this award — Luke McClanahan, who has been a mentor and friend since I was in middle school and still helps me through my college process, and Davis Burton, who has always made sure to encourage me and let me know that he was rooting for me.