The online student newspaper of Vandegrift High School

Vandegrift Voice

The online student newspaper of Vandegrift High School

Vandegrift Voice

The online student newspaper of Vandegrift High School

Vandegrift Voice


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Insights to becoming an academic weapon: Avery Larusso wins Sophomore of the Year

Submitted Photo
Junior Avery Larusso is a member of both club and Viper soccer. She won the Sophomore of the Year scholarship of $600 through the Texas Oklahoma Kiwanis Foundation.

Following a long day of practice, Avery wipes the sweat off of her forehead, stuffs her soccer cleats into her shoe bag and drives home. Most highschoolers would arrive at their room for an hour long TikTok break or a short nap, however with a schedule as packed as Avery’s, the grind never ends.

After applying last year, junior Avery Larusso won the Sophomore of the Year Scholarship, a $600 award, through the Texas Oklahoma Kiwanis Foundation. Kiwanis is an international organization dedicated to assisting children and communities via volunteer work.

“Every year, 10 people from Oklahoma and Texas win [the award],” Larusso said. “And in the past 10 years, there have been six winners from Vandegrift.”

Senior Leya Bustami won the award her sophomore year, and like Bustami, Larusso held leadership positions in Key Club, so former teacher and Key Club sponsor, Andrew Liguez, motivated her to apply. The application process included a four page document comprising questions regarding leadership experience, volunteering and service.

“A big part of my application was the number of leadership positions I have – I feel like that’s not necessarily super common,” Larusso said. “Also, I have had a lot of volunteer hours throughout middle and high school. Being able to write about it and show that I was passionate about those things [probably had the biggest impact on my application].”

Although Larusso serves as the vice president of Key Club, her volunteering started much prior to this. Prominently, her mom works at Laura Bush Elementary School, so she had perennial opportunities to volunteer with students there.

“When I was in middle school, every single day I would go [to Laura Bush] and lead small groups or help set up transformation rooms,” Larusso said. “I also do a lot of different things for Key Club, so it’s not necessarily one organization.”

And indeed it’s not just one organization; Larusso is a member of club soccer, Viper Soccer, track and field, cross country, HOSA, NHS, SNHS, Rho Khappa and an array of other honor societies and clubs. Out of all of these extracurriculars, she feels the strongest connection to Relay For Life, an annual cancer fundraiser event hosted by Key Club.

“Key Club and HOSA are my two favorite clubs, and Relay For Life is essentially medical volunteering,” Larusso said. “It kind of combines the volunteering from Key Club and the medical aspect of HOSA, so I’ve probably gotten the most out of Relay for Life.”

In addition to these numerous extracurriculars, Larusso has a rigorous schedule including 5 AP classes, which leads us to every AP student’s most prominent dilemma: time management.

“I’ve kind of been forced to get really good at time management,” Larusso said. “In the beginning of freshman year, I was in a bunch of clubs and taking AP/advanced classes. I had to figure out really fast how to manage my time, and it’s carried over till now.”

Larusso recognizes phones as the main distractor when it comes to procrastination, and she recommends the use of apps that promote productivity. Forest, in particular, is an app that tries to prevent you from browsing on your phone.

“If you leave the app, then it kills your tree,” Larusso said. “I use that so I’m not tempted to go on my phone while I’m studying – or I just put it in a different room. I also make a set schedule. When I get home from school, I have an order that I do my homework in so that I know it’ll get done.”

Larusso strives to be as productive as possible in school as well, whether that means reading a book for AP Lang during lunch or starting homework on the rare occasion that she doesn’t have to attend a club meeting during PIT. While this may seem exhausting for some, Larusso is determined to continue leading a successful academic career in order to reach her future goals.

“I do all these things because I genuinely enjoy them,” Larusso said. “But also, I want to be a doctor in the future and I know medical school is going to require a lot of hard work, so I’m trying to build all of those habits now.”

For students planning to apply for this scholarship, Larusso recommends that you showcase your devotion for what you do. Larusso certainly had a monumentally extensive resume, but she believes that her passion is what made her stand out amongst the applicants.

“If you’re trying to apply, do your best to write your answers in a way that really shows how passionate you are about what you’re involved in,” Larusso said. “It’s not necessarily who has the most impressive application as much as someone who’s really committed to all the things they’re involved in.”

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About the Contributor
Aisha Rashid, Editor
Aisha Rashid is a junior, elated to be Feature Editor this year on the Voice. She is the president of the ConnectHER club, secretary of Muslim Culture Club, secretary of NEHS and treasurer of MYNA Austin. In her free time, Aisha loves spending time with family and friends, baking, volunteering and traveling.

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    Rosemary LaRussoMar 20, 2024 at 3:51 pm

    She’s an all around great gal, and being our granddaughter is a plus.

    So proud of who you have become Avery❤️❤️❤️love you Gram and Grampa