EAST PEORIA, Il. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Bri Despines is finished with high school classes.

Yet she feels like her high school career and softball career have been in different orbits.

“With COVID it was weird. I feel like I’ve been in high school two years because we were out (of class) a year and a half,” said Despines. “But I’ve been playing high school softball my entire life.”

She made the most of her limited time in the East Peoria hallways. The National Honor Society member was a part of her school’s “link crew,” helping welcome incoming freshmen and new students to campus.

“On the first day of the freshman school day, we’d show them around, make sure they were welcomes, show them where there classes are, how to open their lockers,” said Despines. “Everything freshmen are nervous about, we make them feel welcome.”

Despines received an award last month from the Illinois Principal’s Association for her aptitude, citizenship, academics, character, and integrity. She says it proves she’s not just a leader on her team but she’s a leader in her school.

“She’s contagious. Her personality is contagious, her laugh is contagious,” said of her catcher. “The way she leads in the building, the community. She’s an overall leader for everybody.”

Last year week she was named a Sterling Merit winner, as a graduate who has attained academic standing in the top eight percent of her class.

“I like to stay positive,” Despines said. “I’m going to be thinking I put a good impact on everyone’s lives and leave my mark on the school and make sure everyone has a good memory of me.”