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Saturday, April 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Home-schooled since first grade, North Star senior taking next step as presidential scholarship student at EWU

Valerie Rehmke, a homeschooled senior who also attends Mead School District-sponsored activities at North Star School, will graduate soon. Photographed Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at North Star School. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Valerie Rehmke, a homeschooled senior who also attends Mead School District-sponsored activities at North Star School, will graduate soon. Photographed Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at North Star School. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
By Justin Reed For The Spokesman-Review

As students move from their high school classrooms of 30-odd people to college lecture halls with 300-plus, the transition can be difficult.

But for North Star School senior Valerie Rehmke, the next step will be more of an adjustment than difficult.

Rehmke has been home-schooled since first grade. Her high school classroom consisted of two people, her mother, Kari Rehmke and herself.

“It’s more self-directed and self-paced, which is good because she goes at a fast pace. That way she can get more done and actually enjoy her education,” Kari Rehmke said.

Starting in fall 2017, Valerie Rehmke will attend Eastern Washington University on a Presidential Scholarship, looking to focus on either marine biology or forensics. Marine biology seems to be the preferred route as she already has her graduate school picked out: Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It has an impressive marine biology program, including a building dedicated to it. NSU caught Valerie’s eye pretty easily.

From the beginning, Rehmke has been in love with the oceans and the inhabitants.

“I went to Sea World when I was 10 and I just kind of fell in love with the ocean, and I have been obsessed with it ever since,” she said.

Rehmke will live at home during college, which will allow her to continue working in her community. Her favorite moment came during a shoe drive where she was physically putting shoes on kids who didn’t have any.

“It was amazing because you could really see the difference you were making when you are serving. It is one thing to collect all of the shoes, it is another to see how excited the kids are to get a new pair of shoes.”

But one girl in particular will stick with her forever.

“She was just running around yelling, ‘Look at these new shoes I just got!’ ” she said.

So when fall rolls around and she steps foot in a classroom full of unknowns, the biggest difference for Rehmke will lie in the number of people around her.

And for the first time in 11 years, she will be learning from someone other than her mother.

“She understands how my brain works with things, she can explain things specifically tailored to how I would understand,” Rehmke said.

But Kari Rehmke isn’t worried about how her daughter will respond to a new teacher and a new environment.

“She is just amazingly self-driven to get through her schoolwork,” she said. “It is just amazing self-drive.”

Valerie Rehmke has never had a problem to be driven; it has always been hardwired into her brain. But it is her ability to balance her life that is the most impressive.

“Probably her balance of schoolwork and community work; just her focus is not all on video games or just on herself,” Kari Rehmke said.

Valerie Rehmke knows she has a calling larger than just herself, and Mom sees it in her.

“We are here for a purpose and this world is a lot bigger than just us,” Kari Rehmke said. “If we don’t have an outward focus, we’re really missing it, and she really gets that. It’s not just about her.”

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