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School swaps, mental health struggles don’t stop North Star GSL senior Kristina Houston from success

UPDATED: Fri., June 4, 2021

Kristina Houston is the 2021 notable grad for North Star GSL.  (Courtesy)
Kristina Houston is the 2021 notable grad for North Star GSL. (Courtesy)
By Allie Noland For The Spokesman-Review

With a passion to persevere and a willing mind to learn, Kristina Houston is proud to be graduating high school from North Star Guided Student Learning .

High school wasn’t easy for Houston. She struggled through battles with mental health and switching schools multiple times, but her love for learning helped her push through.

“High school is hard,” Houston said. “I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere until I went to Mead Alternative. The teachers are really good at bringing their students together and went above and beyond to make their students comfortable.”

Her freshman year at Innovation High School wasn’t the best fit. Houston switched to Mead High School at the beginning of her sophomore year and then quickly switched to Mead Alternative School. Houston found her home and comfort at Mead Alternative.

Karina Berven was Houston’s adviser there. This was the first time that Houston felt the necessary support needed to find a successful education plan, resources for her future and accommodations for mental health issues.

North Star is part of the Mead Alternative learning program. Alternative school let Houston’s strengths shine, and it didn’t go unnoticed.

“Kristina was a dream student,” Berven said. “You don’t often, at that age, get students who just want to know everything. She was thirsty for knowledge, and she always asked the best questions.”

Houston has a desire for furthering her education because she thrives on learning, according to her teachers. Next year, she plans to attend Washington State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology.

“I am nervous for the future, but it’s super exciting,” Houston said. “Washington State University is my dream school.”

Terri Inman was the one to help Houston find a path to her dream school. As Houston’s senior year teacher at North Star GSL, she has seen Houston grow as a student and as a person struggling with anxiety. Alternative school has been a suitable method for Houston’s learning style, and it has allowed her to manage her anxiety.

Public high schools are large. Social pressures can build up, and for some, the focus is taken away from learning and put on how to get through the day. Houston’s switch to alternative school got rid of the distracting pressures.

“The classwork at these public schools wasn’t hard,” Houston said. “The hard part was the social aspect.”

Houston has had a lot of barriers put up in front of her, but her strength and natural drive to do well has helped her step over them, one by one.

“She is a veracious learner, and she really has pushed through a lot,” Inman said.

Houston moved out on her own this year and even started working 22-30 hours a week while being a full-time high school student. She said that this was the best option for her because she has more independence and self-motivation to get her school work done.

“She has always put her best into juggling quite a few things on her own,” Inman said. “She’s going to be successful, and she fought incredibly hard for it.”

Outside of school, Houston is always looking for a reason to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, whether that be reading a book in the sun or going on a walk. She also has a love for mixed media art; layering paints and collaging magazine clippings lets her express her creativity.

Managing living alone, working almost full time, dealing with anxiety and completing high school is no easy task. Houston’s diligence and intelligence has allowed her to turn situations around and to persevere.

“I am going to be so sad to see her go, but I am going to be so happy to see her fly,” Inman said.

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