By T. Scott Boatright
All of Lincoln Parish’s 2023 high school graduates faced unprecedented challenges during their prep years because of the COVID pandemic.
But maybe the one who endured the most at making the best out of the circumstances he faced is Lincoln Preparatory School 2023 valedictorian Edward Ford.
Having to endure the COVID pandemic was only part of the trials that Ford, who graduated with a 4.47 grade point average and around 72 semester hours of college credits and an Associate of General Studies degree from Southern University of Shreveport, had to overcome.
Ford also had to endure a high school career that saw him attending classes at multiple sites. The school, which formed after a decades-long desegregation order forced the closure of the old Grambling Laboratory School in 2017, had originally held classes in that building before a court order forced the school to move off the grounds of Grambling State University in 2020.
That led to the school having to conduct classes at various locations, including the old Fred’s, New Living Word Church, Trinity Methodist, Grace Methodist and Calvary Baptist while the newly-opened Lincoln Prep campus was being built.
“The opportunity was there – even with us not having our school built until this year and then COVID happening, classes never stopped,” said Ford, whose father is Lincoln Prep Executive Director Gordan Ford. “So I had to take advantage of that opportunity, even going through three different school buildings and then COVID, I still just kept working hard despite that.
“Because my dad was principal, I saw everything happening in the background. I’ve seen progress, and I’ve seen a lot of change in the school. There was a lot going on. Some of it was stressful, and very impactful because there were a lot of different things – different obstacles – happening all at once.”
That didn’t deter Ford, who was a member of the Panther Marching and Concerts bands, where he served as trombone section leader and drum major; Panther Robotics Team, Taekwondo Team, and the Lincoln Prep Track Team and Field Team, for which he was recognized as an LHSAA Academic All-State Athlete.
And he did finally get to attend his last month’s worth of classes at the new Lincoln Prep campus.
“It’s pretty cool seeing the new school,” Ford said. “Because my dad was principal, I got to see it all happen step by step from the ground up. And even though it was only for the last month or so, it was a long month just because getting to attend classes in that new building was wonderful.
“I’m just glad that I got to spend that little bit of time in it before I had to go.”
A fond memory from high-school Ford will carry forward (and could help in the future as an orthopedic surgeon) was helping to begin the Robotics team at Lincoln Prep.
“When I got there we didn’t have a Robotics team so we started one,” Ford said. “It’s still developing a team because it’s all so new. We did what we could and did good, but the team still needs time to progress and into the program a little more. But it was fun.”
Both of Ford’s parents (his mother is Dr. Janice Ford) attended Grambling State and while he said he did consider other colleges, becoming a part of the “G” and the World Famed Marching Tiger Band was always his destiny.
“I considered some other places, but the thing is, I really wanted to be part of the Grambling band,” Ford said. “My sister was in the GSU band a couple of years ago and told me about it and I think it will be fun and a good experience for me.”
Ford plans to follow in his mother’s footsteps (she’s an Internal Medicine Specialist) and major in biology at Grambling State before hopefully moving on to medical school and becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
“I’ll admit the first thought was the good pay,” Ford said of that decision. “But I also like puzzles – I’m kind of meticulous with that kind of thing – and I think that fits what an orthopedic surgeon does.
“And most importantly, it will make me feel I’m doing something of value. I want to do something I love and work at doing something where I’m needed, and that all fits with me wanting to become an orthopedic surgeon.”
But before starting college in the fall, Ford said he plans to take it easy and have some fun the next couple of months.
“I’m supposed to go to Austin (Texas) pretty soon and maybe a trip out of the country, too,” Ford said. “I just want to take it easy and have a little fun before jumping into college in the fall.”