Slice of Life: Rebecca Johnston

RIO HONDO — For Rebecca Johnston, her work with the FFA helped turn her into a leader.

Now, she’s president of her senior class.

Four years ago, Johnston was a shy, quiet girl when she walked into Rio Hondo High School.

Then she joined FFA.

“It gave me the ability to step out of my comfort zone and be a leader,” said Johnston, 17, the daughter of Jessica Johnston and Roy Penaloza.

By the end of her freshman year, she was elected sentinel.

“I was greeting people as they came into meeting rooms to make sure they were comfortable and understood what the meeting was about,” she said.

From there, Johnston kept climbing her ladder.

By her junior year, she was elected student advisor.

“I wanted to improve myself and strive for bigger goals,” she said.

This year, her years of hard work paid off when she became president of her senior class.

“My goal was to improve our class and set examples,” she said.

Soon, she helped launch a drive to raise money for the senior prom.

So she was helping to cook up bake sales, working concession stands and selling class T-shirts.

Now, with $10,000, she’s helping to put on the prom.

The drive even raised money to send students to New Braunfels in May.

This year, Johnston also became president of the school’s Friends of Rachel club, an organization aiming to stop bullying.

“You never know what they’re going through at home,” she said of students.

So at school, she helped put up posters “to make people feel more welcome.”

Then she helped leave notes on students’ cars to brighten their day.

“We wrote positive remarks to make them smile,” she said.

“We want students to feel comfortable — that a school can be their second home,” she said.

This year, she also became captain of the soccer team the school put together six years ago.

Since she was 4, she’s honed her talents on the field.

Now she’s helped her team make the record books.

“We made history,” Johnston said.

For the first time, her school placed in a tournament and then went on to the playoffs.

“We improved a lot in our skills,” she said.

Now, she’s vying for soccer scholarship to go on to college, where she plans to study to become a veterinarian.