Presley Reed, thank you for coming in.
Presley: Thank you for reaching out to me.
You are an interesting person. You were born in an unusual time in that your graduation in 2020 was in the middle of a pandemic. What was that like?
It was definitely weird. Everything was pretty unconventional and unexpected. Some people like to say that our senior year was cursed to start out. On the first day of school, we were supposed to have the annual Kiss Your Mom Goodbye, but it rained. It was pretty funny.
Though our senior year it seemed like everything was just kind of unexpected, it really puts things into perspective. I think personally it made me a lot more aware of what i should be grateful. For example, not getting to see your friends in the situation that you should be in every day like a school setting puts things in perspective.
You were denied many of the usual senior experiences: no official prom, but you had a very strange graduation ceremony out in a football field.
Yeah. But Bishop Kelley really handled everything so wonderfully. I’m so blessed to get that I got to go to Bishop Kelley because they tried so hard throughout this whole pandemic to make the seniors feel so loved and special and taken care of. Many of schools didn’t even get to have actual graduation. Bishop Kelley spent every week trying new things to have senior spotlights and things like that. We didn’t get many recognitions that we would have usually had, so they tried every single day of every week of the pandemic to make us feel special. We were so lucky despite all the hardships.
Presley, you got a special award, the Brother Norman McCarthy award. Brother Norman McCarthy was one of the Christian Brothers who spent years and years at Bishop Kelley so what does that award mean?
It is presented to one boy and one girl in the senior class each year who have gone through excellent spiritual growth throughout their high school career.
Honestly I would say all of the change happened this year specifically.
When I was a freshman I was super shy. I was very introverted. I didn’t really do much of anything. I just was scared of everyone. I had friends but i was very quiet and reserved.
During my sophomore year i was the kid that sits at the top of the bleachers during pep rallies. I said, “I don’t want to do this.” I just didn’t have school spirit.
Junior year is when i started to feel comfortable in my own skin and senior year is just black and white, compared to what i was like in freshman year. I didn’t expect it at all. I just switched friend groups. The people who were around me this year really helped me grow in so many ways through a lot of experiences.
With the social changes, there’s a spiritual component too? Tell me about that.
I was born cradle Catholic. I was baptized at the Church of the Madalene and had First Communion at Saints Peter & Paul. I went to school there [at Saints Peter & Paul].
In middle school, everything changed. All my friends were questioning their faith and I was taken aback. I had never even had an idea that there could be a possibility that there wasn’t a God. That scared me. I was in group of friends that didn’t feel [scared] that way. I thought to myself, “I don’t know what I feel.”
Throughout the first half of high school until junior year I wasn’t where I should have been. I lost touch with my faith. I wasn’t wanting to go to church. My mom tried really hard to get me to go to the freshman retreats and similar events, but I downright refused as teenagers do.
Like I said, earlier this year I changed my group of friends. Those different people changed my life. They encouraged me to go to Quest. It was amazing although I didn’t get to go as much as I’d like to because things got canceled [due to the pandemic]. I went on Search Retreat and Kairos retreat.
I continued surrounding myself with people who lived a more faithful life. I knew I was different from who I’d been for so long. I just embraced who I was becoming. It was a crazy transformation that literally changed my world.
Can you point to one specific moment when everything changed?
Yes! One of the reasons that I had fallen out of touch with my faith was because I tried so hard to be a good
Catholic when I was little. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed and [my prayer life] was very automatic which is not how you should pray.
I never felt what i felt like i was expecting to feel. I didn’t feel any magic or warm feelings or anything like that. One day i had a friend who had a really difficult day and i was on the phone with him and I was trying to make him feel better. Eventually he said, “I can’t talk to you right now. I’m going to go to the chapel to pray.” Although it was kind of late at night, he had been praying. He knew that I was struggling with my faith.
He called me on the phone after he had been praying. He said, “Presley, God wants to know you so badly. He loves you so much and he wants to be with you he wants to know you. He wants you to be open to him.”
I remember crying because I had never felt that way before. It was something I have difficulty explaining. I felt crazy. It was amazing. My hair stood on end.
That is the moment when God flipped everything around. Ever since then I continue feeling it.
What were the first few weeks or months after that like?
Oh, they were terrifying! It was something that I had never felt before and I didn’t expect that I was going to feel it for so long.
You go from living this life believing there’s nobody up there like it’s you’re alone and then everything switches and you feel this feeling that you’ve never felt before and your whole life starts to change and everything is just
all different all at once. It was an amazing feeling. I was so happy and I’m still so happy.
Everything was light and contrasting to everything that I thought before and it was scary to change so suddenly but I’m so grateful for it all.
What a story! What’s next for you?
I am going to Oklahoma State. Right now I’m in General Business although I’m hoping to narrow that down a little bit.