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Simonne Biller puts down roots as boarding student at St. Michael’s Academy

Simonne Biller was a boarding student at St. Michael’s Academy and graduated this year in a senior class of five. Her secondary education goal is to become a certified court reporter.  (Courtesy)
Simonne Biller was a boarding student at St. Michael’s Academy and graduated this year in a senior class of five. Her secondary education goal is to become a certified court reporter. (Courtesy)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

Familiar with moving and accustomed to her family’s home in Rhode Island, Simonne Biller told her parents that she was ready to just be in one spot for a while.

Biller’s father served in the Air Force, and moving around was part of the job. It led them across the country every few years, and another move was inevitable as Biller prepared for her sophomore year of high school.

But for both of Biller’s parents, Spokane was home. So, she asked her parents to see if they could find a school here.

“I don’t want to move anymore,” Biller recalls telling her parents then. “Just put me in a high school and just be done with it.”

St. Michael’s Academy in Spokane ended up being that school, and the move proved to be a good one for Biller, a graduate there this spring in a class of five seniors, of which she was the only boarding student.

“I didn’t necessarily want to go to a boarding school, but it was a school I could finally stay in,” said Biller, who remembers living in at least four states: Rhode Island, Texas, Maryland and Oklahoma. “I don’t remember a lot of the places because I was young.”

Biller was born in Haiti and was adopted when she was nearly 4 years old by Jenifer and Jeffrey Biller. Even as the family criss-crossed the country, they often returned to Spokane to visit family.

That family has been a big support during her time at St. Michael’s. Biller said visited grandparents on weekends as she adjusted to living in Spokane.

“I’ve loved pretty much everything,” said Biller, who also enjoys skiing and volleyball. “I almost feel like it is a calling for me to live here.”

Casimir Puskorius, a pastor and teacher at St. Michael’s, said Biller’s eagerness to learn, as well as her unique story of adoption and moving around the country, stood out to him the last three years.

“She is just completely engaged in learning and is willing to learn,” he said. “She brings a great spirit.”

The Billers had originally thought they would move to Spokane once Jeffrey Biller retired, his wife said, but upon retirement, he accepted a position at the Air Force Academy in Colorado and moved the family there.

When Simonne Biller first moved away for school as a sophomore, it was a big adjustment for her mother, who was still at home with three younger children. Simonne Biller also has an older sister.

“It’s tough,” Jenifer Biller said of sending a child to boarding school. “I think I cried for the first three days. Simonne was a huge help to me.”

However, when St. Michael’s moved instruction online in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Simonne Biller moved back in with her parents, until school resumed on campus last fall.

After high school, Biller said she plans to enroll at Green River College in Auburn, Washington, where she wants to learn to be a court reporter.

“I’ve been really interested in the law, not necessarily being a lawyer,” Biller said. “Law and justice are something I really wanted to focus more on, to learn more about.”

It will be one more move for Biller, but she’s become used to that.

Her mother said it has taught her something else, too.

“She’s been an independent girl since she came home from the orphanage,” Jenifer Biller said. “She’s wanted to be the boss of her own life.”

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