Reflections from the Como Class of 2024

Editor’s note: The Como class of 2024 experienced the typical challenges of most high school students, with the added difficulty of pushing through the Covid pandemic and virtual classes. Como graduates Kiki Ruddy, Freddy Gray and Adi Toe share their reflections on their high school experience.

Kiki Ruddy

Como has allowed me to discover what I wanted to pursue, from academic opportunities to extracurricular experiences.

As a freshman, I was in an online classroom all day but was able to do Nordic skiing, volleyball and ultimate frisbee after school. Through these sports, Como allowed me to meet so many new people and still maintain my mental and physical health through a time of loneliness.

I always felt I could make an impact at Como through programs like Link Crew which welcomed me back from COVID as a freshman, and later allowed me to welcome other freshmen and make them feel at home in our school.

Student council allowed me to lead projects, gain communication skills and learn how to work with different people. Volleyball taught me commitment and teamwork while I grew to love the game. Through these experiences I was able to make an impact and become a leader. 

Como also allowed me to challenge myself in academics and have unique educational experiences. First, the CIS (College in the Schools) classes that Como offers challenged me but let me stay at Como while I learned at a college level.

Secondly, taking AP Government and Politics opened an opportunity to meet students from all over the country in Washington, D.C. Through this Close Up D.C. trip, I was able to see other people’s political perspectives, preparing me for people’s different views that I might disagree with as I enter college and life after high school.    

One of the most important parts of my high school experience has been the community and people that Como gave me. I have had the opportunity to take part in activities with the same people over the years, creating friendships that I intend to carry with me for the rest of my life. More importantly, I went to school with people that let me grow and change alongside each other.

Como allowed me to grow into a leader, find a sport I was passionate about and further my academic knowledge in so many ways.

Kiki Ruddy will be attending the University of Vermont

Freddy Gray

I’m very grateful for all the new experiences Como has given me.

I would have never had such a great theater career if it weren’t for the amazing Como staff who encouraged me to become a better leader. Theater has been a big part of my time during high school.

I was able to start after COVID when I was a sophomore, and I ended my career as the stage manager in my senior year for the production of “The Jungle Book.” I never thought I’d be part of such a great group of people. I’m thankful for every single one of them for making my time in the theater programs amazing!

Some theater people I would like to shout out are Mr. Tran; Como class of 2023 alum Kaya Solheid; and my badminton coach, Kyle Johnson. They have always encouraged me to go above and beyond to do great things and were always by my side cheering me on. I’m grateful for what they have done for me during my time at Como. I hope I can change the world for someone the way they changed mine.

During my time at Como, my family and I experienced a lot of loss. Although the losses were hard, they made me understand how precious life is and that we should hold close the ones we love.

Como has been such a great resource for me when it came time to apply to colleges. A lot of the Get Ready staff helped me with my applications and essays. They were always willing to help no matter the topic! I’m grateful to Como for having all these great resources and people.

With the help of Get Ready, my teachers and my peers, I feel more confident going into college knowing I had all those people helping me along the way. Thank you, Como Park, for making my high school career a great one!

Freddy Gray will be attending Augsburg University

Adi Toe

Before moving to St. Paul in 2020, I was the type of person to shy away from confrontation and uncomfortable situations.

That may sound surprising to people who know me now, but it’s true. I was living in a racially and politically homogenous community and as a young black man, there wasn’t much room for me to fit in.

Attempting to adapt as best I could, I chose to ignore the racism I experienced regularly. Worn down over time, I started to feel like my voice wasn’t meant to be heard.        

Como Park High School immediately flipped all of that on its head.

Stepping through the doors for the first time late freshman year, I gained a new perspective. I’d never been around so much diversity of race, religion and cultural identity.

I suddenly found myself in an environment where my voice could echo through the halls without judgment. It was an environment with countless opportunities to say “yes!” so I became a person who never said no. 

I was a little hesitant to join the track and swim teams, but I took a leap. On those teams, I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I managed to qualify for state in a sport I didn’t know I could accomplish anything in. I grew into the role of captain and discovered the joy of teaching someone new to the sport how to find their confidence in it.

In addition to finding athletic achievement, I found academic fulfillment. My teachers showed me respect and kindness, while also challenging my ideas and preconceptions. I went on a trip to Washington, D.C., that encouraged my passion for politics and advocacy.

I have so much to be grateful for in my time at Como. I was able to exceed what I thought I could accomplish not just academically, but physically and emotionally. If I wasn’t surrounded by people who believed in me and saw in me what I couldn’t see before, I wouldn’t be half as prepared as I am now to face what’s next.

Ubuntu – “I am because you are.” 

Adi Toe will be attending Macalester College

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