2022 Graduates: Neida Jaimes Makes Memories Despite Pandemic
Neida Jaimes knows that the Covid pandemic stole a lot of high school experiences from her and her classmates at Loy Norrix High School.
While she’s sad about that, she has approached her senior year determined to reclaim her high school experience.
“I feel like Covid took a lot of memories I could have had. In the blink of an eye, it was gone,” said Jaimes, 18. “But I think this year I’m making a lot of new ones. It’s been going really well. I’m taking it day by day and appreciating every memory that I’m making.”
Jaimes is the daughter of Maria Salinas and José Jaimes. Her older sister Lorena Jaimes and brother Christian Jaimes also attended Loy Norrix. In the fall, she will be attending Michigan State University.
It was Lorena, who helped her get through quarantine, Jaimes said. “As much as I don’t want to give her credit, she definitely helped me,” she said with a laugh. “She was in the same spot herself finishing college. We were both clueless and had no idea what to do. She just helped make every day different and kept pushing me to get through.”
Jaimes moved to Kalamazoo from the tiny town of Covert in the fourth grade. She attended Milwood Elementary and Milwood Magnet schools.
“Along the way I met some pretty good teachers,” who built real relationships with her, she said. Among her favorites were Dawn Kahler, a science teacher at Milwood Magnet, who remains close to her today.
“Neida is an original,” Kahler said. “She’s real. When Neida would laugh in class it was never at someone, but always included everyone in the humor. Everyone laughed with her. She has so much joy and she shares it. When I think of Neida I hear her laugh and it puts a smile on my face.
“She also was that kid that could work with anyone and both people enjoyed working together and learning. She also worked hard at her learning and never sat back when things were good enough. Neida is the kind of person that makes everyone feel good and it feels so good to know her.”
At Norrix, she readily found a niche as a varsity soccer player, which she played four years. She also served as a yearbook photographer in her sophomore year. She’s in the National Honor Society, plays club soccer and works part time. Then Covid. But even with the pandemic, she still found a way to keep growing and trying new things.
Her longtime boyfriend Tyler Roberts has always been a football player, and Jaimes watched the game dispassionately for many years. Then her junior year, “I jokingly asked the coach if I could be their kicker,” she said. “He looks at me and says, flat out, ‘yes.’”
She attended practice and took the field the second game of the season. Her soccer skills definitely helped her take to the football field.
She was never scared of getting hurt. She was more scared she’d mess up and disappoint the team.
“I eventually did get tackled once. I got up and just laughed it off. Oh, it hurt, but I was like, I’m playing the game, it’s bound to happen.”
Her two seasons playing football will be one of her favorite memories from high school. “It’s something not a lot of people do,” she said. “I got to experience something different and meet a lot of new people. I grew relationships with the coaches. It gave me a lot of connections.”
Connections matter to her, and there are so many people who have made a difference at Loy Norrix, she said. Her counselor Becky Parsons, Spanish teacher Christina Holmes, economics teacher Ryan Allen, and football coach Lorenzo Robertson. “There were like so many teachers in every grade, every year. I think everyone here had an impact on me.”