Aleah Bikle’s high school experience was a whirlwind. She was the leader of the clarinet section for the marching band; she wrote for the school newspaper; she worked at a grocery store. And now that she is graduating North Harford High School, she is on to more at Harford Community College on her way to Towson University, where she hopes to study nursing to help others.
Bikle, 18, said she has a knack for making people happy, which was the draw of nursing.
"I have always really wanted to show positivity to people,” she said. “I just really want to help people in their time of need.”
At no time is the need for nurses more apparent, she said, than now, with the novel coronavirus pandemic battering the U.S. She hopes to step into the role to help people through some of the more challenging spots in their lives. She said the concerns of potentially being close to a deadly virus do worry her, but that is a challenge she would have to overcome and adapt to. The virus also painted over events like prom, graduation and North Harford’s pep rally, but Bikle takes it in stride.
"That is part of life; you just have to adapt to it,” she said.
In sophomore year, Bikle said she was reserved, preferring to stay quiet and write. An English teacher saw her prose and asked if she would be interested in writing for the paper. She did not know what it entailed — it turned out to be stressful at times, she admits — but it gave her the confidence to talk to people she did not know.
The experience helped her when she would do the morning announcements — a decidedly high-profile activity.
"I went from not being able to speak to anyone to having my face broadcasted … to the whole school,” she said.
Bikle’s mother, Lisa, said she was proud of the young woman her daughter has become, particularly for her leadership and kindness to others.
“I think she has turned into a wonderful young woman,” she said. "Just overall wanting to help others and support them and work hard. We are just very proud of her.”
Bikle played the clarinet in the school’s marching band, she said. She fondly remembers the energy at North Harford football games, where she and her bandmates would put on a show for the fans. But the act of playing music, she found, was its own reward. She used to play with others, but they gradually moved away from music as they entered high school. Her role in the marching band made her appreciate the time she had to pursue music.
"I am one of the first people in my family to really have a knack for music, so I don’t know where that came from,” she joked. “It always brought me a calmness.”
Through her extracurricular activities and studies, Bikle also worked as a cashier at a grocery store close to her home. She started in 2018 when she was 16, she said, because she wanted the responsibility. Particularly as the coronavirus kicked up, she said, she needed extra patience to help customers during a stressful time.
The money was nice as well, though she has not had much to spend it on recently with stores closed. She’s socking her earnings away for college and, maybe, a new car. She has always wanted a Honda CR-V, she confided.
Bikle’s father, Dean, said his daughter was naturally sedulous and driven, but high school presented more opportunities for her.
“I think she had that in her growing up, but I think more so now in high school, there are more things to get involved in,” he said. “
Though she was busy with numerous activities, Bikle still made time for her friends and herself. She often went “glamping” — a portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping” — in RV-style accommodations with her friend. Their camping led them across the state and to Virginia. Campfires and hiking, she said, were usually in the cards.
Bikle is proud of her achievements in high school because of just how much she did. She maintained good grades — earning a place on the school’s honor roll — and friendships while activities and extracurricular pursuit pulled her in multiple different directions. She looks forward to the next chapter in her life, she said, and is thankful for the experience, people and lessons she learned at North Harford.
Both of Bikle’s parents said their daughter’s success can be traced to the teachers she had throughout her life and at North Harford High School. They, Dean Bikle said, have done an exemplary job of mentoring and preparing her for the future.