One thing I have learned to do really well in high school is drink coffee! I look forward to times when I can treat myself to a special coffee at Woods, meet with friends for a meeting over coffee, or make an iced coffee at home. My favorite drink has become an Iced Upside Down White Chocolate Americano. One reason is because it’s delicious and another is because it’s a less expensive drink on the menu and a poor high schooler can’t survive financially with expensive tastes. 😉

As high school comes to a close, many seniors begin to reflect on the time where they spent 9 months of each of the last 4 years and all the memories that have come with the high school experience. Thinking about the past four years, I realized that I didn’t have one big story to tell or some significant experience that has changed me and so I struggled to put into words what had made me who I am today and how my time at Lynden Christian has shaped me. However I decided to combine my love for coffee and the ingredients that go into my favorite drink and draw some analogies into some of the life “ingredients” that have shaped me and how those have helped me to grow. Life is like a good cup of coffee.

The bottom layer in my favorite drink is cream. It’s heavy, it’s rich, and it’s sweet. While it may be the first ingredient in, it is one of the last sips you will take. My family has been there for me and will continue to be there as I graduate and go off to college. They have been faithful and loyal as I’ve weathered the storms of growing up and becoming an adult. I was born in the Great White North of Terrace, B.C and moved to Lynden in 2008, when I was 9 years old. My parents have taught me from a young age the importance of loving God, loving each other and the importance of family. Moving to a new country, a new town, and a new community was definitely an adjustment and something to get used to. Being homeschooled, when we moved to Lynden, was fine for a time, but I soon found that those deeper friendships with people my own age were something I craved and were harder to find in the homeschooling circles we were a part of. However, spending concentrated time with my siblings each day, did provide opportunities for enriching those relationships and we now all have a sweet relationship together. I know that my family will always be there for me–to encourage me, to support me, to pray for me, and to love me.

The second layer of my Upside Down White Chocolate Americano is the flavoring. This represents my friendships that I’ve formed and developed over the years. There are many individuals who have flavored my life, giving the cream a new and sweeter taste, and have either left a lasting impact on my life or continue to impact me everyday. In freshman English we took the Gallup Strength Finder Personality Test and Woo was one of my five strengths. A Woo ‘loves the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over…by breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.’ Being a social butterfly I took this challenge to heart and while I began high school with a couple friends, I came out with many more than I ever would have imagined. Throughout high school I have been involved in a variety of group projects, from researching literary periods in AP English to making medical skits in Spanish. Working with others can be intriguing to see how people’s strengths compliment mine, but also can present challenges when working with others who are very different than me. Through that process relationships are strengthened and formed. Other extra curricular activities such as soccer, drama, and pep band have been amazing opportunities for me to find new flavors to add in my life. Another strength of mine is Includer. With this strength I am ‘accepting of others…and have an awareness for those who feel left out and make an effort to include them.’ Including others into my friendships was and is a joy. Creating connections with those who don’t have a definite place has really flavored my relationships and given my some of my closest friends. My close friends in high school are the ones who have pushed me and helped me become a better person. They have been with me through the thick and thin and are continuously supporting me in all I do. These friendships are important to me and always will be as I begin the next stage of life.

The third layer is the ice. This layer represents the teachers, along with other adult figures and influences, who have poured into my life and helped solidify my learning and development here at Lynden Christian. Having the pleasure of interacting with a few of my teachers outside the classroom has helped develop lasting relationships because within the school walls you see a teacher, but outside those walls is an adult mentor who wants to see you do succeed no matter what your pursuits. This can be true of your friends too. Friendships with peers are important to have, but relationships or friendships with adults and teachers can be just as important. Building relationships with adults other than your parents can be beneficial as they can sometimes see things more objectively than someone who is directly related to you. Throughout high school I have loved all of my teachers and have developed unique and meaningful relationships with each one of them, but I have had a few that have pushed me, had me think more for myself, and taught me amazing lessons. They may eventually melt away from my life, but their impact will follow me forever.

While I have only had him as a teacher for Senior Biology, Mr. Kredit has been a Track coach all four years for me. In and out of the classroom, he is an inspiration to everyone he interacts with and I have learned a lot from him about Biology and myself. My developer strength has evidently been shaped and molded in this class, and with this strength I am able to ‘recognize and cultivate the potential in others…spot signs of small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.’ I think that this strength describes Mr. Kredit very well, and as I have seen him cultivate the potential he sees in his students, I have learned to begin to do the same as I interact with my classmates. There have been a handful of occasions when he has stopped class and asked us how we are doing with school and life and sits down with us and just talks. One day in particular stood out to me. We were talking about how crazy life was with homework and everything that culminates at the end of the year while being a senior and the word “senioritis” came up…Kredit went on the say that he didn’t like that word because it encourages giving up to some extent and he wanted us to finish strong and end the year with perseverance. He told us something like this… ‘I don’t want to hear about senioritis…you’ve been in school for 12 years. Well guess what?! I’ve been here for 55 years and I’m not complaining about senioritis.’ We need to finish the year strong until the end, not slacking off because you don’t feel like it.” This really stuck with me and made me want to finish the year strong as best I can. Mr. Kredit doesn’t settle for good, he wants the best of the best from all his students and that has taught me to look for the best in everyone and to be the best that I can be as I go on and pursue my dreams and all that God has for me.

Another teacher who I have really appreciated is Mrs. Hagedorn, otherwise known as Senora H. My sophomore and junior year I had the pleasure of taking Spanish with her. Outside of the classroom she was my youth group leader as well for the first year and a half of high school. Both in and out of school I have learned the importance of perseverance as well and getting the job done. She is not a teacher to mess with. Silly excuses didn’t slide and she made me work hard for my ‘A’s’ which at the time seemed impossible and like she was asking too much, but it enhanced my learning and made me a better student. Over the two years in Spanish, Senora H helped develop my Learner strength. With this strength I thrive in being pushed to the limit and want to continuously improve academically. I’ll admit that at the time I may not have appreciated being challenged, but now, as I look back I see that it made me a better student and I continue to strive to do my best in all I do.

The last layer of my upside down White Chocolate Americano is the most important ingredient…the coffee. Likewise the most important relationship in my life is God who has richly enhanced my life. He has guided me each step of the way. He has blessed me with a family who loves me. He has blessed me with friends who are loyal. He gave me amazing teachers who have poured their wisdom into my heart and mind. God has permeated all that I have done here, even during the times when I haven’t recognized it as such, he has been there leading and guiding each step. I know God is my most loyal friend, my faithful protector and my loving provider. My personal relationship with God hasn’t been the strongest the last couple of years. Finding my own faith and not relying on my parents faith, I think is what has caused me to struggle. As I have struggled in finding my own faith, a process that I am still figuring out, I do see improvements in my spiritual life. I know that God is waiting for me to really appreciate his loving friendship and I hope that I continue to find out more about him and the strong flavor he’s brought into my life.

Finally after the brewing is complete you have yourself a flavorful, strong cup of delicious coffee. Each ingredient is essential to completing the coffee, without one, it isn’t true to its name or quality. The cream was the first ingredient in the cup, just like my family was the first relationship in my life. Once the flavour was added, so too were friendships and close influences that made life a little more interesting and tasteful. Next the ice which represented my peers and teachers who have had and will continue to have an impact on my life. Finally the coffee, which may be last, but is the most important ingredient of all because God is and needs to be the strongest flavor in my life. Without him life means nothing….without coffee in my Upside Down Americano, how can you call it coffee?

As I have realized how important relationships are for me, I knew that in my future I needed to pursue a career that centered around building relationships and one that helped further enhance my strengths. Nursing seems like the perfect job, which will allow me to help others while building relationships. In the fall, I will be attending Calvin College where I currently plan on pursing a career in nursing. I am excited to see how God will orchestrate my future and how what I have learned throughout high school, specifically through my relationships, will influence my career and life as I strive to bring God the glory in all that I do.