They're Called "Pops"

They're Called "Pops"

Our names come on popsicle sticks.

In middle school, I was very involved in my choir. My teacher, Mr. Dover, was hilarious and made every class my favorite. It wasn't until I got to high school that I truly understood how intense choir was and how much it would mean to me.

Mr. Forrest and Dr. Cornwell were my teachers during my four years at Clover High School. They taught me how to sing out, how to not be flat when singing a note, how to perfect my solfege and so much more. The Clover Choraliers was my choir in high school. This was where my favorite music and memories were made.

My sophomore year of high school I was assigned a pop. It's almost like a big sister and little sister situation when you compare it.

They're called "pops" because our names come on popsicle sticks. Most of the time one pop will sing alto and so will the younger pop or sometimes the older pop will sing bass and the younger pop will be a tenor.

My pop was Brittany Cash and she was one of the greatest friends I had throughout high school. She was a role model to me, in life and in the chorus building. At the end of my sophomore year, Brittany, unfortunately, graduated because she was a senior.

From my junior year until senior year, when I received my own pop, I was excited yet frightened because I was worried that my little pop wouldn't have the same relationship that Brittany and I did.

Thankfully, I was proved wrong.

Hey there Jacqueline Alcala. My little pop.

Jacqueline became my pop on the first day of my senior year. I did my best to Instagram stalk her before school started so I knew what I was getting into but even that didn't prepare me for the friendship that we have today.

Being a pop isn't a ton of responsibility but you have to make sure their experience in the Clover Choraliers is a good one. Especially their first year.

Today, Jacqueline is a spunky senior in high school with so many dreams and goals. She's like my little sister; the little sister I always wanted.

I'm a sophomore in college now, but I still make the drive back home to see her and take her lunch to school, take her to school or even pick her up from school. We go to the movies or get coffee or sometimes we go to the gym at 5 am.

I always look at my life and thank Mr. Forrest and Dr. C for putting Jacqueline in my life. I'm not totally sure how much thought went into the decision of making her my pop but I am so grateful.

Not everyone has the same relationship that my pop and I have. Once I graduated, we became more than just "pops." It's still so funny going home to Clover and seeing students from my high school and them looking at me kind of funny and say, "Aren't you Jacquline's pop?"

Jacqueline just got into Wofford University, her school of choice. She got a scholarship because she's the smartest kid I know. She's the most courageous and bravest soul and I honestly look up to her a lot of the time.

I am so proud of you, pop. I love you.

Cover Image Credit: Alex Russell

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10 Reasons Why My Mom Is My Hero

She's also my best friend.

My mom is pretty darn special. And I'd be kidding myself to say that I tell her enough how much I appreciate her. There aren't enough breaths in the day to thank her for all that she has done for me, and all that she will do for me. So this is for my momma, these are just a few of the reasons why I think she's pretty great.

1. I can talk to her about anything.

I know for a fact that no matter the issue and no matter the story, my mom will listen to the entire thing with nothing but compassion in her heart. I don't ever need to wonder if she will judge me because I know for a fact that she never will.

2. She gives the best hugs.

I don't care if I saw her yesterday or if I've been away for three months; my mom will always hug me like she hasn't seen me in years, and there isn't a better feeling in the world.

3. I have never met a more selfless person.

She has such a heart for others and I am constantly blown away by her devotion and passion for serving those around her. If I (or anyone else) needs anything, my mom is the first one to jump up, drop everything, and run to help. If I have half as much generosity as my mom someday, I know that I would be making a huge difference.

4. I am inspired by her.


5. She cares so much for me.

I know that no matter how old I grow to be, and how mature I may become, my mom will always be there for me. She will always be waiting with open arms to either congratulate me or console me. I have never felt more loved by any other human than I do by my mom.

6. She loves me unconditionally.

I will never ever need to worry that she will stop loving me. No matter the circumstances, no matter the phase of life that I'm in, my mom will always be there for me, loving me every step of the way.

7. She is my number one cheerleader.

I don't think I will every meet another person more dedicated to my success and ready to celebrate my accomplishments than my mom. She is hands-down my biggest supporter and will always be standing at the finish line of whatever race I may be running. I could be crawling across that finish line and she'd still be cheering for me the whole way.

8. I can always count on her to point me in the right direction.

My mom will pray for me. She'll encourage me. She will lead by example and through the counseling that she is always ready to provide. I know that I can always count on her to push me in the direction of my dreams.

9. She has the best laugh.

I could pick my mom's laugh out of a crowd of hundreds. Her ability to laugh at herself (and at her own cheesy jokes) are part of what makes her so amazing. But the sound of my mom's laugh has the capability to make anyone's day, including mine.

10. I never stop learning from her.

See points 1-9.

Mom, you are such an amazing woman, and there is simply no way that I could put it into words. So I'll simply say thank you. Thank you for all that you do for me, day-in and day out. Thank you for loving me, and showing me what it means to live like Jesus and everything else that you do. I hope that one day my daughter might love me as much as I love you.



Cover Image Credit: Ashley Burton

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The Power Of A Smile

Smiling is like a universal language that everyone knows without even learning it.


Proverbs 15:13a

A glad heart makes a cheerful face.

How often do you smile?

Do you find yourself smiling at people as you walk through hallways or down sidewalks? Do you smile when you see someone you know? What about someone you don't know? Do people ever smile back at you? Do you only smile when you are having a good day?

We typically like to think of ourselves as generally happy people. We think we smile frequently to both the familiar and unfamiliar faces we see. However, a smile doesn't always mean that we are happy. Sometimes, there is a more underlying reason as to why and how we smile.

What types of smiles are there?

  • 1. True smiles – The smiles we make when we are happy. This type of smile floods the face when someone tells a joke, spreads good news, or makes us feel important or accomplished.
  • 2. Fake smiles – The smiles we put on that actually mask our feelings. Whenever we have a bad day, receive some unexpected news, or aren't feeling well, we put these smiles on to cover up what we actually feel inside.
  • 3. Awkward smiles – The smiles that happen in uncomfortable situations. When you hear or feel something inappropriate or something you disagree with, this smile tends to fill the face. These smiles help cover up your discomfort for a short period of time.
  • 4. Soft smiles – The smiles that we possess when we have pleasant attitudes. These smiles tend to happen in our eyes, more than our mouth, with no teeth showing. Whenever we are pleasantly satisfied, we tend to have these smiles.

Most of these smiles we use every single day. Isn't it crazy how we feel all of these emotions on a typical day and our quickest known response is to plant a smile on our face? Smiling is like a universal language that everyone knows without even learning it.

Are smiles contagious?

There's a simple answer: YES!

Whenever someone smiles at you, it changes your mood instantly. Whether you know the person or not, it can impact your day in such a positive way. Even if you just failed a test, spilled your coffee on you, or woke up late, someone simply smiling at you can remind you that everything will be okay in the end. Think about it. Their simple smile for a split second changed your mood and now, you are also relieved and happier!

How can we smile more?

Think about your heart. Is your heart full of joy? Are you thankful and ready to conquer the world? If you are, a smile can flood your face without you even knowing. But what about on the harder days when you have to try your very best to smile? On these days, think about the simple things. Think about your family that you love, the last home cooked meal you had, your pets, the last time you were with your friends. Even simpler, think of rainbows on a rainy day, the sunshine peeking through the clouds. Think of your favorite meal or favorite TV show. Most importantly, think of your Savior, who cares and loves you more than you could ever imagine. After all, these simple things in life are what give you a glad heart.

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