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Washington Voices

Kara Mitchell feels at home in Freeman High School’s smaller crowd

Thu., June 3, 2010, midnight

Life’s challenges can sometimes lead to hidden blessings.

For a teenager, changing high schools is a tough choice filled with many challenges. When Freeman senior Kara Mitchell decided to make that choice the beginning of her junior year, she soon discovered the transition brought many unexpected rewards.

“It was a true answer to prayer,” Mitchell, 18, said about making her decision to transfer from University High School to Freeman in July 2008. “God gave me peace and guidance throughout this whole thing.”

“She seemed to become comfortable here fairly quickly,” Freeman counselor Laura Hamma said about Mitchell. “She is a very positive role model and a great addition to the Freeman community.”

As part of a class of over 350 at U-Hi, Mitchell felt stifled. Many of her friends from middle school left to attend other schools, and she struggled to find her niche.

“It was hard for me,” Mitchell said about her experience at U-Hi. “I lost a lot of friends and it was very difficult for me to fit in there.”

Becoming part of a graduating class of only 75 students, the move to Freeman gave Mitchell room to breathe.

“The students at Freeman were very welcoming,” she said. “They reached out to me and I made friends easily.”

The smaller, more intimate setting gave Kara the freedom to explore different classes. Encouraged by her teachers, she investigated avenues such as choir and art, as well as a class that introduced her to what she sees as her future career path: graphic design.

Taking a digital design class her junior year opened up a completely new world to Mitchell. She now wants to pursue graphic design as a career and eventually create websites.

“That is what she needed – for someone to stretch a hand and ask ‘Have you thought about this?’ ” said Kara’s father, Russ Mitchell. “It’s a real good spot for her.”

Said Kara Mitchell: “I never thought of it being something bigger for me.”

For her senior project, Mitchell, with help from her dad, redesigned the website for the Freeman Northeast ‘A’ League.

“I wanted to give back to the league,” Mitchell said. “Plus, it gave me a head start on what I want to major in at college.”

Since Freeman school district discourages website design for senior projects, Mitchell first had to convince the school’s athletic director and principal on the benefits of the new site.

“I think Kara’s character had something to do with it,” Russ Mitchell said about gaining approval. “They saw the need but we had to convince them we had the resources to make it happen.”

She spent months researching and gathering information for the site, which launched this past winter. Each week, Mitchell updates the site with information she gets from contacting athletic directors.

Although she took a freshman art class at U-Hi, Mitchell developed a deeper appreciation for art at Freeman. She discovered her favorite form of art is drawing and enjoys capturing flowers and faces she sees in magazines.

Art teacher Diane Barron named Mitchell her “art student of the year.” “I selected Kara because she is outstanding in all ways, including being attentive, self-challenging, focused, dependable, and very talented,” Barron said. “You would never hear ‘Is this good enough?’ from Kara.”

During her time at Freeman, Mitchell also has remained involved in sports. Having played softball since kindergarten, she made the varsity team as a junior at Freeman, and was selected as first team all-conference last year. She was also recruited to play on the first Freeman varsity girls soccer team.

Upon graduation, Mitchell plans to attend Northwest Nazarene University, in Nampa, Idaho, a smaller, Christian college that both her parents attended.

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