Jane Wright, teacher at Five Mile Prairie School, described this year’s commencement speaker as “bubbly and full of enthusiasm.” But Anna Carmichael wasn’t always so excited about school. She had skipped eighth grade and gone right into high school.
“I hated it,” she said. “I didn’t know anybody and I didn’t like the cliques.” She stuck it out for a while, but two weeks into her sophomore year, she’d had enough. Fortunately, she found a better fit at Five Mile Prairie School.
The K-12 school is part of the Mead Education Partnership Program, which supports and provides resources to the home-school community. Students can learn at a variety of locations including home, colleges and the Five Mile Prairie School.
“I liked the flexibility – I could take as many classes as I wanted,” Carmichael said. She also received credit for extracurricular activities, such as fencing. When she started at Five Mile Prairie she said she was fencing full time and attending tournaments, and it counted toward her PE credits.
In addition, Carmichael enjoyed being part of the school community. “When she had a chance, she helped fellow students out with schoolwork,” Wright said. “Last year she assisted the drama coach with the pull-out program for the elementary kids.”
Drama has been a lifelong passion for Carmichael. She’s appeared in seven shows at the Old Orchard Theatre in Green Bluff and performed with Spokane Children’s Theater. When she enrolled in the Running Start program, she quickly became involved with the drama department at Spokane Falls Community College.
“I’ve done drama for five quarters straight,” she said, laughing. She worked primarily backstage, and was asked to be the stage manager for the fall production. “It’s a great thing to have on your résumé,” she said. “I was actually paid a little bit.”
Carmichael enjoys all aspects of theater life, especially the camaraderie among participants. “It’s a family atmosphere,” she said. “You grow so close to people – you work together as a team.”
Perhaps one of her most exciting achievements was landing the role of the abbess in the winter-quarter production of “The Comedy of Errors.”
“I worked my bum off to get in the show,” she said. “It was a really fun first Shakespeare performance.”
Last summer, Carmichael got a taste of improv when she participated in the Northwest Renaissance Festival. “I was part of the court and wore these huge layers of dresses.” Her fencing skills got a workout, too. “I was part of the human chessboard and had a whole swordplay scene.”
Wright said Carmichael has an abundance of post-high school interests, and added, “I’m sure she’ll be a successful and strong member of any community she’s in.”
One of those interests is working with animals. Carmichael has already set up a job shadow with a falconer. “He owns the Seattle seahawk (live mascot),” she said.
College isn’t on her immediate horizon. “I think kids get pushed into four-year colleges too soon.” Instead, she hopes to take a mission trip to India. “I know I’m supposed to go,” she said. “Missions work has always been on my heart.”
Eventually, she pictures herself becoming a drama teacher or a K-9 cop, but for now she’s content to take her time and explore her options. “I’m looking forward to the opportunities to come – life is an adventure,” she said.