Elenor Wiens loves people.
As a senior at The Oaks Classical Christian Academy she has spent her 13 years at the school developing deep and meaningful relationships with her fellow students, the staff and faculty.
“I’ve been at this school since I was in kindergarten, so it’s where I’ve always been. There are really small class sizes, about 20 kids,” Wiens said. “I grew up in a family of six kids, and I’m the oldest. The youngest three are adopted, one’s from Ethiopia and the other two are from the U.S.”
“It’s been really cool growing up with them and working with their different needs. They have also gone to school with me, all except the youngest,” Wiens said.
She has used her life experience through school and family to develop a love for communication and language, which she eventually hopes will translate into a career.
“Two of my younger siblings have had to have speech therapy, and I started looking into that because I really liked biology and I really liked speaking,” Wiens said.
Her youngest sister has speech apraxia, which is a disconnect with the brain and verbalization of language. She was able to overcome this with speech therapy. Her brother has fetal alcohol syndrome, the result of the birth mom drinking excessively during pregnancy. Through helping her siblings and her love for communication Wiens was able to find her life’s passion.
Having siblings with special needs has also taught Wiens valuable life lessons.
“As far as having special needs in the home, I think it’s just grown my love for people, because not all people are the same, nor should they be, and I think it’s really beautiful that we can see strengths and weaknesses in all sorts of people from all backgrounds,” Wiens said.
She has also used her passion for language and her experience with siblings to drive her junior and senior theses.
“She’s a passionate young lady, and she finds what interests her and dives in with both feet,” said Charlie Dowers, headmaster at the academy.
“At our school we have to do a junior and a senior theses which are usually what you are interested in combined with a change you want to see. Both of mine have ended up being shaped a ton by my family. My first one was about the need for special needs education, which is often forgotten because it is such a small community, and I presented on this because I grew up with it,” Wiens said. “Then, this year my thesis was on not misdiagnosing FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome) as ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) because that happens a lot because of how they manifest themselves.”
“Watching her grow from a young kindergarten student to a young lady who can stand up and give a 25-minute presentation and field questions from judges is really encouraging and impressive,” said Dowers.
“I am constantly looking for a way to make sure that those who are forgotten get remembered and that those who don’t have a voice find their voice. I think that my family and my school has been a big part of that, because if it weren’t for my parents and my siblings, I’m sure I wouldn’t be choosing those topics,” Wiens said.
“(I love) being able to show through words really cool things that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise,” Wiens said.
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