Untold Stories of The Pack


Vallorie Andrede

Vallorie Andrede plays laser tag at senior recess.

Jaysen Ford, Editor in chief

Imagine being on your way home late at night, whether it be from school, or from practice, or even just going out to eat with friends, just like many other countless nights before. After waiting at the light, you go to make that familiar turn towards your neighborhood, but this time instead of finding the usual empty streets ahead, you’re faced with a pair of huge bright headlights, a flash of panic, and a piercing screech. 

This is the kind of experience that many drivers have to encounter, and one that could very well cost your wellbeing or even your life. This was a similar kind of experience that Ridgeview student Vallorie Andrade was met with a little under a year ago. She got in a brutal car accident in which she was hit by a semi-truck on the freeway at night. It’s crazy because that whole week beforehand, I felt like I was gonna get into an accident and I kept getting into little things where people would almost hit me the same way that the semi hit me.

She describes the harrowing experience, “I did think that I was going to die because I was going and I was right against the ramp, and when the semi hit me, my truck, I felt it bounce against the ramp. So I thought I was going to bounce over the ramp and into like off the cliff since it was like in a cliff area.” She continues on to describe, “So I thought to myself, ‘oh my God, this is it.’”  Thankfully, while she did suffer some trauma, it wasn’t bad enough to cause serious injury. It turned out that the car was totaled, but considering the situation, Andrade is grateful that she came out of it safely. Even so, she says that afterwards it took her a while to be comfortable driving again or to even feel safe in a car. “To this day I still can’t drive at night by myself because it just freaks me out too much,” says Andrade. She also talks about her fears associated with semi-trucks after the crash. “When I have to drive by semis, anybody who’s been in the car with me will tell you. I will grip onto the steering wheel and my hands will start shaking and I just start pressing the gas as fast as I can.”

Andrade explains how she had been dealing with anxiety beforehand that was amplified after the accident. She recounts a recent visit to the doctor because of it, “I had really bad anxiety, and it was so bad my body created a physical reaction,” Andrade says. “Your body just reacts in a natural way because it can sense that you’re stressed or you’re anxious even when you feel like you’re not,” She continues.

Andrade goes on to explain, “So I was in physical pain because of it, and they thought something was wrong with my heart. We checked everything out and they said, yeah it’s just you being anxious, and I feel like I’m still in the process of learning how to control that or how to overcome that.”

Andrade shares personal advice on how she copes with anxiety, “I think one thing that helped me a lot was that every time I start feeling like I have any attack coming on, like a panic attack or anxiety attack, I just tell myself, you just need to calm down and everything’s going to be okay. I think that’s one thing that helps me a lot. I try to reassure myself because nobody else is going to be there for you the way that you can be there for yourself. And I feel like a lot of people that I know who also have anxiety try to find reassurance in others, but it’s never gonna help you.”

She also says that people struggling with anxiety should try to find an outlet instead of keeping it in. “Sometimes I’ll go drive by myself and I’ll just start like saying everything out loud, even if there’s nobody with you, you just need to let everything out and just leave it there. I don’t take it back with me,” she says.

 In the midst of her last months as a high school student, Andrade recounts her high school journey as a whole, glad for the many meaningful connections she’s made and opportunities she’s had as a link crew leader and the ASB member. She talks about getting more involved with helping others with mental health, “I feel like I’m starting to become more big on  mental health awareness because I go through certain things on my own and I think the school should talk about things more like that. Even just about ways to cope with it or outlets.” Andrade’s experiences with this have allowed her to find happiness in connecting with other people and understanding their own experiences. She organized an event called Chalk Week where she invited students to be more open about their struggles. She says, “I get certain things that people go through and I love seeing me and that person connect on a different level even though we don’t know each other. I love connecting with people, and I love making people happy. I love it when students come along and they tell me I really needed this. Like thank you. And that just makes me happy.

Aside from being involved at school, Andrade has long since had a love of sports and extracurriculars. She’s done theater and competitive cheer, competitive dance, and softball. She played on the girls’ soccer team last year during her junior year, during the football season this year, she became a member of Ridgeview’s football team as a kicker. Regarding her experiences in football she says, “It was interesting. It was different. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I think it was a really great experience and I wish I had done it starting freshman year. And if I could go back, I think that’s one thing that I would’ve done.” Andrade adds, however, that at the same time, she doesn’t think would’ve done much differently over her four years in high school and says, “I feel like everything that I’ve done, every opportunity that I’ve taken or not taken has led me to where I’m at right now. And I feel really good at where I’m at right now.”