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Idaho Voices

Bridge grad found right time, place

Sun., June 7, 2009

Abrahamson juggled busy life to earn diploma

Christina Abrahamson’s journey to high school graduation began in 2003, when she started at Lakeside High School in Plummer.

After nearly two years of struggling to fit in, she dropped out of Lakeside and transferred to an alternative school in Spokane Valley. Eventually, she moved in with her grandparents on the Spokane Indian Reservation and attended Alliance Alternative School in Wellpinit, Wash., for her junior year.

She quit again and, a year later, had a baby. School and motherhood just didn’t seem to mesh, until she found the Bridge Academy in Coeur d’Alene.

“I had so many credits, I didn’t want to settle for a GED,” Abrahamson said. “This is the kind of program I was looking for.”

At Bridge, an alternative high school in the Coeur d’Alene School District, she was able to attend school at night, allowing her to keep her day job with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Department of Fish and Game in Plummer. The self-directed pace allowed her to wrap up her outstanding credits in just a few months.

On May 26, she earned her high school diploma – although she admits she was working on her school work up until the last possible minute. Getting to walk in the Bridge graduation ceremony was a big deal for her and her family.

“My mom was really happy,” Abrahamson said. “I think she cried through the whole thing.”

Her problem with school was never grades, she said.

“I’ve always liked school, but my attendance got bad,” she said. “I never got bad grades.”

She did, however, find herself getting in fights at school, which ultimately caused her to drop out of Lakeside. Making up for lost time now, at age 21 and with 2-year-old daughter Kliessa to care for, has had its challenges. She would get off work four days a week and drive from Plummer to Coeur d’Alene for school. Those 12-hour days were tough.

“I don’t like spending that much time away from my daughter,” she said. “When I get home, she’s ready for bed.”

Ultimately, however, the time away has been worth it.

“My mom has five kids and I’m the only one who has graduated,” she said. “I can actually say that I’m proud of myself. It takes a lot of me to say that.”

Support from her mom, Willette Haines, has been crucial, Abrahamson said.

“My mom has helped a lot. She’s been the one to push me and push me and tell me I can do it.”

With high school challenges behind her, Abrahamson is ready to move on. She hopes to take advantage of a program offered to members of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe that will pay college tuition and some associated expenses.

“They’ll pay for college because they want you to do it,” she said.

She hopes to attend Spokane Falls Community College. Living in Spokane, she said, would put her halfway between her mom’s family on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation and the family of her father, Loren Abrahamson, on the Spokane Reservation. Her initial idea was to study accounting, but now she’s considering nursing.

“I’m keeping my options open,” she said.

For now, her plan is to relax and concentrate on work and her daughter for the summer. After that, she may take a few college courses offered in Plummer by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

“I think I’ll go into that, maybe in the fall,” she said, “so I don’t overwhelm myself.”

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