Reagan Senior Student Clears Obstacles to Ride and Serve
By Amy Morgan
Ronald Reagan High School senior Katelyn Gwyer literally clears obstacles to balance her passion as an equestrian with her love for community service. Katie competes in English Saddle Jumping through the Interscholastic Equestrian Association on her 10-year-old thoroughbred, Remington. She trains every day after school at the Russell Equestrian Center in Boerne, sometimes staying for hours or heading to the equine therapy facility next door to help riders with intellectual or physical disabilities. Katie recognizes several of the participants from Reagan’s ALE class. She knows the kids personally, because as a Reagan PAL, she’s helped with their events, including the Special Olympics basketball tournament and a Valentine’s Day Party. Recently, she helped a student at the district’s field day with the softball throw and 100-meter dash. She looks forward to volunteering at Camp this July. She’ll spend the week’s session partnering with a child with disabilities to make the camping experience special.
PALs also mentor younger students at the district’s elementary and middle schools. Katie spends time at Bush Middle School and Stone Oak Elementary every week. “It is so rewarding to see you are having a positive impact,” she said. “We didn’t always talk about the tough stuff going on, but sometimes we would, and I could tell they really appreciated it.” Katie remembers the difference her own PAL made when she was going through a tough time processing her parents’ divorce in the second grade.
An end-of-semester Aloha to PALs event welcoming incoming PALs with a party during the school day was another Reagan highlight.
Katie joined Student Council when she enrolled at Reagan, working up from the position as head of the community service committee to now being elected president her senior year. She particularly enjoyed purchasing and wrapping 3,000 gifts for students at Camelot Elementary School, which student council officers were able to deliver personally this year.
“Every kid was able to get a gift,” she said. “It was so sweet to see their little smiles.” One of the older boys received a three-dimensional puzzle. He showed Katie how he had already put together a tetradactyl from the kit before the Reagan kids had even finished distribution. “I got see what we were fully capable of as a student council post-Covid and touch some lives that day,” she added. As Student Council President, Katie also looks forward to being one of the few students with a speaking position at her class’s 2023 graduation ceremonies. In addition to her NHS stole, Katie will wear a special red cord at graduation, earned by donating blood through the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center six times during high school. Katie gave her first donation at age 16 as soon as she was eligible and encourages friends to participate. “If I have something, and I don’t need it, why not help someone else?” she said.
She’s applying to Colorado State and Texas A&M, with hopes to continue in their veterinarian programs. Katie plans to become a large animal vet, an aspiration not surprising for an avid horsewoman. We predict she’ll sail over those obstacles as easily as she jumps with Remington.