CHARACTER COUNTS NOMINATIONS

Mountain Ridge’s Tegan Bernard helps individuals find strength

Jan 11, 2022, 6:00 AM | Updated: Jan 14, 2022, 6:04 pm

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Mountain Ridge High School’s Tegan Bernard knows that not everyone can be mentored or helped in the same way.

The 16-year-old learned at a young age that individuals are molded differently, whether it is struggling with mental health during COVID-19 or assisting a teammate on the volleyball court, the best way to reach someone is by opening your mouth.

“One way to recognize someone’s strengths is to genuinely talk to them,” Bernard said. “Talk through it and genuinely go through everything to find out what might be a strength.

“I like to keep everyone in their mental game, their personal game, their own game. Whatever they aspire at, the way they do that, I want to keep them in that mindset.”

Bernard and two other students started a program while taking online classes during COVID-19 called Bridge to Ridge.

The program was founded when middle schools reached out to the high school students to try help bridge the difficult transition to high school.

“We realized these kids were not only skeptical of what was to come, but they had genuine fears and anxieties,” Bernard said. “The Bridge to Ridge program was something to help them navigate the water, prepare them for what is coming and just ease their nerves.”

The junior in high school said he was inspired by his mother and father because they never turn down a challenge as natural born leaders.

His natural calling to help others stemmed from his own difficulties with mental health. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, Bernard has used the experience as a learning opportunity.

“We have learned these strategies, coping mechanisms and have technology to help us through quarantine and isolation,” the 16-year-old said. “COVID has shut everything down, but it has had people step up to the plate to help people with mental health issues.”

Bernard has a 4.0 GPA and will graduate high school with his college Associate of Arts degree while holding leadership positions in DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) and FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), but his leadership shows no ceiling.

He has given time to middle schools as an athletics coach and helped plan the community Ridge Run 5K and the Ridge Got Talent show last year, keeping the longevity of the events going during COVID-19.

His future plans involve going to college to study law with a minor in psychology, with the ultimate dream of becoming a lawyer and opening his own firm.

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