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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Despite pandemic challenges, St. George’s senior Alexandria Gustafson went beyond academic expectations

UPDATED: Thu., June 3, 2021

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Alexandria Gustafson spent a good portion of the past year commuting to her grandmother’s house every weekday so she could use her Wi-Fi to attend online classes at St. George’s School, since there is no internet access at her home near Deer Park.

Despite the pandemic-induced difficulties, Gustafson said she has enjoyed her time at St. George’s, where she has been a student since kindergarten. She and her family were touring local schools and she fell in love with St. George’s, Gustafson said.

“I became instant best friends with the people I was around,” she said.

She liked the teachers and liked that it was a close-knit community.

“I love it,” Gustafson said. “I like the flexibility of my high school. They never back down from anything you want to do.”

She’s been in the theater program since the sixth grade, when she also began singing in the choir. In recent years she’s been singing in a band called Rock n’ Roll.

“For a while it was Gibby Eats World because our drummer is Gibby,” she said.

Gustafson, who apparently doesn’t do anything short-term, has also been involved in 4-H since she was 4 years old.

“It’s fun,” she said. “They basically open the door for whatever you want to do.”

As she got older, she found herself involved in leadership programs and photography through 4-H as well as the statewide Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion. She’s also part of the Team Teachers program, in which they teach after-school programs in elementary schools.

“It’s one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had,” she said.

Gustafson is an International Baccalaureate candidate. She said she earned certifications in all of her classes rather than going for a full IB diploma because her lack of internet access made that task too difficult. Gustafson said St. George’s is the only school in Spokane County to offer the IB option.

“It’s one level above Advanced Placement,” she said. “It’s college prep in a way I haven’t seen before. It’s a lot of work.”

Gustafson said she was originally thinking of studying business and engineering in college, but took a test that showed she was a good fit for sustainable foods and environmental engineering. She was required to complete an IB internal assessment, which she did on hydroponics and its connection to diseases. It took her five months of research to complete.

“It was way cool,” she said.

Her academic credentials meant she had a lot of options for college. She toured numerous college campuses across the country, but she ultimately picked the University of Idaho, where she plans to study sustainable engineering and farming.

The fact that her choir had attended choir competitions there helped seal the deal.

“I looked at tons and tons of bigger schools,” she said. “They were one of the few places that sent a rep up to my high school to talk to me.”

When the school found out it was in her top five, they made concerted efforts to woo her, including having students send her notes touting the benefits of the school. School administrators were also interested in what she wanted to do and weren’t trying to recruit her for a specific program, she said.

“That’s a nice feeling,” she said.

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Nina Culver can be reached at nculver47@gmail.com

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