Cassie Hundeby wasn’t sure Spokane Valley High School was big enough when she first saw it midway through her sophomore hear.
“I started high school on the other side of the state at a very big school, Curtis High School,” she said. “It’s a huge school. When I got to Spokane Valley High School and looked at it, I remember thinking, ‘Is that all there is? That can’t be big enough.’ ”
As they say, looks can be deceiving. And in this case, they were for Hundeby.
“What I found inside was so much more than I could imagine,” she said. “On my first day as a freshman at Curtis, I would ask the cheerleaders and the upperclassmen for help finding where I needed to go and I discovered that they weren’t always very nice to people.
“When I got here, everyone was friendly – you really come to be like one big family. And what I learned very early was that the more you were yourself, the more they liked you. If you tried to be someone you aren’t, they saw right through it. I learned very fast that it’s OK to be who you really are, and that gave me a lot of self-confidence.”
It’s a lesson that Hundeby embraced immediately.
“What I found was a community,” she said. “Oh my goodness. You cannot be here and not be part of the community because that’s central to what the whole school is about. That’s what I love about our school. You learn to work with other people because we do so many group projects together. You learn that everyone can contribute and you learn to find ways to help them do that.”
Naturally optimistic and upbeat, Hundeby has grown to be the heart of the school – known for her pet saying: “It’s fun to be a Hun-de-by!”
And the senior has developed the confidence to inspire those around her who are having a bad day, or to tell them when they’re making decisions that could be harmful to others.
Those group projects she took part in as a student already are paying dividends, she said.
“I just went out and interviewed for my first job,” she said. “After all those projects, you have to have learned some pretty good presentation skills and I think that really helped me. I got the job my first time out!”
When it came to deciding on her future path, Hundeby and her teachers treated it like a group project.
“I spent a lot of time talking through options with my teachers – and we talked through everything,” she said. “I enjoyed the process and it’s helped me figure out just exactly what I want to do and how I plan to get there.
“I am going to enroll at Spokane Falls and spend two years getting my associate of arts degree, and then I am going to transfer to a college, and I haven’t decided yet which one I’ll want to go to, but I plan to study nursing.”