June 6, 2010 in Idaho Voices

Lakeland senior learned to overcome shyness through 4-H

Jacob Livingston jackliverpoole@yahoo.com
Kathy Plonka photo

Lakeland High School senior Alissa McCullough has been an active member of 4-H since she was 5 years old, involved with raising livestock, painting and photography classes. She plans to attend the University of Idaho this fall.
(Full-size photo)

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Alissa McCullough was a shy and bashful youth before joining 4-H.

Not anymore. Over the course of a few years and helped along by the many activities offered through the organization, the Lakeland High School senior broke out of her shell. Since then, McCullough has transformed from a soft-spoken student into a humble yet confident young woman with plans to become an interior designer after high school.

It’s been a remarkable change, even by her own accord, McCullough offered.

“I used to get really shy and blushed a lot,” she said. “But it’s not nearly that bad anymore.”

McCullough, 18, is set to finish high school in Rathdrum, where she racked up an impressive grade-point average and a long list of friends. She took part in track, softball and soccer, playing on the varsity soccer squad since she was a sophomore. She became known for her motivated and disciplined attitude.

“She’s really blossomed,” said Linda Cederblom, a longtime family friend and former 4-H organizational leader. “She started out very quiet, but in the last couple of years, she’s really come out of her shell.”

“She is a very well-rounded student with a 3.83 grade-point average, and I don’t think she gets the recognition she deserves,” said Conrad Underdahl, principal at Lakeland High.

School has been a rewarding part of McCullough’s life. Her favorite subjects are math and family and consumer science.

“I’ve always liked school, I’ve never had a problem with it,” she said, adding that the architecture side of interior design is of particular interest to her.

As the youngest of three daughters McCullough has lived all her life in Hayden.

“I’ve lived in the same house all my life,” she said.

The one subject that McCullough said she can talk for days about is 4-H. She’s been an active member since she was 5, participating in photography, raising livestock and creating tole artwork, a form of decorative painting on a variety of objects that includes wood, furniture, metal and household items. She also took part in a Children’s Village fundraiser that raised more than $22,000 for the nonprofit organization.

Cederblom said McCullough was a quick study in her art classes. “Alissa is just an awesome painter. She passed my abilities fairly quickly and taught me,” she explained.

“4-H is like the biggest part of my life,” McCullough said. “I love all the 4-H people – they brought me out of my box and made me talk in front of people, which helped a lot. They teach you a lot of responsibility.”

In addition to staying active through 4-H, McCullough works several jobs. She’s also been a part of the Resort Academy, a hospitality course for high school juniors that was offered at The Coeur d’Alene Resort. She plans on working as a cook at the resort during the summer, a position she’s held for a few years.

“I like to work, it keeps me busy,” she said.

In her free time, McCullough said she enjoys hanging out with friends, driving around the county looking for new places to explore. “We just like being around each other mostly,” she offered. “My friends were a good influence on me, and we kept each other out of trouble.”

McCullough will attend the University of Idaho in the fall to study interior design. She’s been awarded more than $13,000 in scholarships.

When asked what she’ll miss most about her time at Lakeland, McCullough said, “I’m going to miss all the people and all the teachers. I’ve made some really great friends here.”

Margie Tibbits, a family and consumer science teacher at Lakeland who also instructed McCullough at the Resort Academy, said McCullough was one of the most driven students to come through her classroom. That determination will take McCullough wherever she wants to go, Tibbits added.

“She’s an amazing kid. She’s very bright, and she’s a very driven individual,” she said. “She’ll do very well. She has a great eye for attention to detail. She’s just a phenomenal young woman.”

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