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Lyon freshman stays active in academics, outdoors

Lyon freshman Sarah Darnell likes to be prepared, whether she’s in the classroom or in the wilderness.

She is active in both the Honors Fellows Program and the Lyon Education and Adventure Program (LEAP).

“The honors program is a great community builder,” said Darnell, of North Little Rock, “with all of us living together on the same floor and seeing each other all the time.”

She enjoys studying with the Fellows because they’re all good at different things.

“It’s great to be able to put our brains together and work it out.”

Darnell began going on LEAP trips her first semester, including the ski trip in Kansas City, Mo. It was her first time to go skiing or snowboarding.

“I didn’t make it down the hill once without falling,” she said, laughing. “My record was falling twice.”

Because of her involvement with LEAP, Darnell decided to take the Wilderness First Responder course at the beginning of the spring semester. The three-hour course started on Jan. 6 and ran from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for eight days.

“It’s like first responder training. You learn CPR, and you learn how to use what you have to take care of someone if you don’t have the resources you need.”

The course explores what to do in emergency situations in the wilderness, classified as areas two hours away from help and without cell service.

“If someone breaks their leg, I can set that now,” Darnell said. “I can set bones, treat bruises and sprains and things like that.”

“I think it’s really cool. That’s why I wanted to take the course.”

While she doesn’t consider herself “super outdoorsy,” she likes to be prepared and had previously taken a few medical courses in high school.

“I know I want to go into the medical field. I just don’t know quite where yet.”

Darnell plans to also take the Wilderness First Aid program through LEAP while at Lyon and might attend a Wilderness EMT course in New Hampshire this summer. 

“I want to become a Wilderness EMT. It’s a two-week course where you basically live, sleep, and breathe wilderness first responder and first aid training.”

She said the organizers are monitoring the coronavirus pandemic closely and have not canceled the program at this time.

Darnell used to live in New Hampshire because her mom was a travel nurse.

“I think the training is close to where we stayed, so I might be able to stay with the people we did before and work it out that way.”

Darnell also stays active in cheer at Lyon and by teaching at Independence Gymnastics during the week.

“I was a gymnast in high school for forever, and I wanted to stay active when I came here so I tried out for cheer and made it.”

She enjoys being a mentor for young gymnasts now.

“It’s a totally different experience, but it’s really fun,” Darnell said. “It’s good to have perspective from both sides because I know when to be tough on them and when to chill out.”

“You can kind of gauge the kids once you get to know them.”

To balance her schoolwork with cheer, gymnastics and LEAP, Darnell sets reminders on her phone for when big assignments are due.

“The background on my phone is my schedule that I’ve written out because I can’t keep up with myself,” she said, laughing.

Darnell plans to continue taking courses with LEAP and going on trips, including the skydiving trip in April.

“It’s all good memories with LEAP.”