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Sunday, March 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Senior’s appreciation for outdoors helps during difficult time

Tanner Andersen is the notable graduate from Kootenai High. (LEORA SANFORD PHOTOGRAPHY)
Tanner Andersen is the notable graduate from Kootenai High. (LEORA SANFORD PHOTOGRAPHY)
By Stefanie Pettit For The Spokesman-Review

Tanner Andersen has lived his entire life in the beautiful Idaho country outside Harrison.

The Kootenai High School senior helps on the family property, hunts and fishes, and in his spare time enjoys roaming the woods horn-hunting, having found some fine specimens of antlers shed by deer and elk. “I haven’t done a lot of traveling,” he said. “I don’t need to travel when I live with everything that’s out here.”

Andersen enjoys fishing, especially for bass, because it’s something he can do year round. But, he said, “I’m not so much a fish eater as a fish catcher; I mostly catch and release.”

The family does eat the deer and elk he brings in each year. He recently learned to hunt with bow and arrow, and brought in a five-point elk this year in his first archery hunt, he said.

At school he has participated in basketball, football and track. And he found himself in an art class this year. “I didn’t want to take it really, but I needed a humanities credit,” he said. Turns out he’s pretty good at it, which surprised him.

He entered an art piece in a University of Idaho competition themed around visualizing science. His two-dimensional ball appearing to be sinking into a grid earned an honorable mention in state competition. “Did I ever think I’d win an award in art? No way.”

Andersen is also involved in the P-TECH – Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools – program in which students who complete a curriculum receive tuition for designated programs in technology. As part of that he is currently taking online courses through North Idaho College, where he will enroll this fall with the aim of earning an associate degree in aerospace manufacturing. He will work logging this summer to help with college costs.

But everything hasn’t been smooth going in his life. Andersen’s father, Erik, with whom he had a close relationship, was killed in an auto accident seven years ago, just a month after Andersen’s grandfather, whose property adjoins his family’s, died. The family was hit hard. His mother, Audrey, who works in the lunchroom at his school, became the sole breadwinner , and times were difficult.

Andersen and his older sister pitched in to help with the two younger siblings and farm chores. They eventually had to give up their cows, and an uncle comes in from Montana each year for the haying operation. His elk hunting became even more important in those first few years.

It was a lot of grief in a short amount of time, a lot to deal with and overcome. He credits his school community for helping. “We’re a small school, and everyone knows everyone here,” he said. “Teachers were always willing to help, to understand and to listen.”

It’s difficult sometimes, Andersen said, “when I see people complaining and getting mad at their parents, at their dads. Parents are trying to teach you important lessons, not trying to be mean. Better listen and learn because someday you’re not going to have them, and that sucks.

“I only wish I could go out and make more memories with my dad.”

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