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Washington Voices

Charting path at boarding school

Thu., June 4, 2009

Alexandria Besaw values time at St. Michael’s

Recent high school graduate Alexandria Besaw has been living in a foreign country for the past four years. She was 14 years old when she packed her bags and headed for an adventure in the United States.

“I am a Canadian citizen from Calgary, Alberta. Choosing to come to school in the United States was the biggest decision I ever made,” she said. “I thought the idea of going to boarding school would be exciting; an adventure that I would never forget. Sure, it’s really hard living away from home, but you get a great satisfaction from the fact that you are sort of independent.”

While most 14-year-olds are deciding what to wear to school, Besaw decided to don a uniform at St. Michael’s Academy that sits high on a hill overlooking north Spokane. Her parents, she said, taught her to be independent, trusted her to make her own decisions, and raised her and her siblings to think for themselves.

The youngest of five, Besaw was motivated by her older relations who also went to boarding schools. “I wanted to do what they’ve done but chart my own path.”

Besaw chose the academy to learn more about her Catholic faith. She had heard good things about the school from one of her sisters who had also attended St. Michael’s. “She’s a nun and a teacher there now.”

When asked if she might become a nun, Besaw replied, “Maybe. I do know I want to serve others and be a role model. I want to help orphans or kids that don’t have good influences. I want to change the world somehow. I guess the best way to do that is to be a good example.”

Sister Mary Petra, the academy’s principal, regards Besaw as a good example. “She has responded so well to all that we have offered including character building,” she said, “She’s responsible and independent, a good example and someone we’re proud of to graduate from our school.”

Besides being an A-student, responsible, a good example to others, and independent, Besaw, 18, believes in discipline. “One word that makes people my age cringe is discipline. Who wants to regulate themselves in what they do? When teachers and parents tell teenagers that they need to be more disciplined we usually say ‘we’re young, give us a break.’ Teachers and parents are right though. The teenage years are really important. During that time of growing, we are developing habits. If we teens let ourselves be ruled by our passions and do whatever we feel like, how will we know when to say no?”

Friends, family and laughter are important to Besaw. She also enjoys the outdoors and adventure. She is considering going into meteorology because nature’s force fascinates her, and she wouldn’t mind chasing storms. She’s even working on getting her ham radio license because she hears that the radio is a common tool among storm chasers.

Her future plans include going home where she intends on skydiving and white-water rafting, and getting a summer job. She will then go to Mount Royal College in Canada for her bachelor’s degree in science and then on to Great Falls University in Montana. “I plan on being in school for the next 12 years,” she said, “I enjoy learning.”

Whatever she does, she will be herself. “I think the hardest part about school is fitting in. Everyone wants to be accepted. It’s important to be yourself and don’t let people bring you down. Every person has a unique quality about them. By being yourself you can help inspire others to great heights. Think with your heart but don’t forget to use your head. Stand up for what’s right. Keep hold on the morals and values you were taught and you will go far in life.”

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