Senior year is the time most students celebrate the milestones that come with finishing high school. For Courtney Bray, those celebrations have been tinged with sadness. Cancer claimed Bray’s mom March 11, 2012.
“It’s been a battle,” Bray said. “No mom for homecoming, for track meets, for graduation. It’s been hard. It doesn’t necessarily get easier.”
Despite her loss, Bray maintained a 4.0 grade-point average, managed the student store, was a DECA national competitor two years in a row and holds school records for pole vault.
But Mt. Spokane High School Assistant Principal Brenda Goehring said, “If I had to pick one word to describe this kid, it would be ‘humble.’ She doesn’t like the spotlight.”
As she watched the gifted athlete set personal record after personal record in the pole vault, Goehring said the joke was that her mother was giving Bray angelic assistance – an extra puff of air as she sailed over the bar.
Though she misses her mom every day, Bray is thankful for the time she spent with her. “We got a good goodbye,” she said.
Bray would hurry home from track practice to help get her mom ready for bed but, as the cancer progressed, that grew difficult. “It would take an hour or so,” she said. “I couldn’t even hug her. She was in so much pain all the time.”
But there were moments to treasure, too. “One night she whispered in my ear, ‘I’ll be watching from above.’ ” The promise comforted the grieving teen.
A competitive gymnast for 11 years, Bray chose to focus on track and DECA during her senior year. “I’ve really enjoyed the DECA trips,” she said. “I like learning the business aspect of life.”
However, she plans to study elementary education at Eastern Washington University this fall. “I love children,” she said. “I teach Sunday School at my church to 1- and 2-year-olds.”
She will also pole vault for the EWU track team.
Goehring said, “She will succeed at whatever she puts her mind to, and she’ll do it with grace.”
And Bray has one ambition above all else. She said, “I want my mom to be proud of me even though she’s not here.”