By Becky Fertitta
Read the full June 2013 issue of Viewpoints.
It is not only moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers who are proud of their high school graduates this year. At the McFaddin-Ward House (MWH), a host of folks are taking pride in the accomplishments of several great kids who are setting their sights on the future, continuing their education—growing up! And why shouldn’t we be proud? We often joke that we’ve helped rear these kids, these junior interpreters. It is, of course, a little tongue in cheek, because although we do spend time with them, grow to care about them and wish for them the brightest future possible, we leave the actual rearing to the parents.
We had lots of JIs who persevered with our museum program and graduated from high school while still in the JI program. We’ve actually had several who continued to volunteer while in college. That says volumes about our program. But this year we have quite a few graduates with such a wide variety of backgrounds and high school experiences that it seems important to call them by name and share their plans for the future.
In alphabetical order meet Christina Abel, a homeschool graduate, who has a long history with the McFaddin-Ward House. She started as one of our “kids” coming for afterschool programs and eventually became a junior interpreter. It has been the museum’s good fortune that Christina’s homeschooling enabled her to volunteer much more than the average middle and high school student; so she’s devoted over 300 hours to the MWH since becoming a JI. Now Christina plans to pursue other avenues: beginning an internship with a local independent film company, self-publishing three novels, and attending Lamar Institute of Technology to pursue a degree in graphic design. WOW! It will be so much fun to continue to watch this amazing young lady follow her dreams.
Hannah Colletti will graduate valedictorian of her class at Legacy Christian Academy this May. She is very bright, to say the least, and very personable as well. This young lady will go far. She actually served as an intern for the museum’s collections department the summer she completed her junior interpreter training. I’m not sure if that was the hook, but she will be enrolling in the Honors College at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas this fall, majoring in History and minoring in Anthropology.
Sarah Gerstenberg completed her homeschool course work in December of 2012, ahead of schedule. She entered the junior interpreter program after she participated in a joint project with the museum through her 4-H group. After several years as a JI she’s become invaluable to our group. She’s a natural leader and quite an actress too; she’s portrayed Ida McFaddin in our play A Morning with the McFaddins for Odom Middle School students for two years. Sarah plans to pursue a career in the graphic design field, sharing that experience with her brother Joah, who is an accomplished web designer. For now, along with all her career-focused goals, Sarah is learning the violin, working as the keyboardist for her church and working in her father’s medical office. Sarah isn’t driven to decide on her future right this minute. Her goal at this time is “to work wholeheartedly wherever I am and seek glory for God in whatever I do.”
Montshonae “Katy” Lowe is her mom and dad’s pride and joy. I’ve seen that from the first moment I met the family. She is special. Hard-working, fun-loving and anxious to grow up, Katy is graduating a year early from Central Medical Magnet High School. Katy admits that she started the admission process a little late but plans to attend Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. It is hard to imagine Katy off at school, because I know her parents and little brothers will miss her terribly. But she is a determined young lady who can do whatever she sets her mind to.
Tori McGuire entered the junior interpreter program a little older than most teenagers. Even when she first began you sensed a quiet maturity about her. She could drive herself—that was a big deal—and soon began working after school and on the weekends. Tori is very interested in history and old “stuff.” She likes to write about that subject and others. That must be why this West Brook High School honor graduate is entering the Communications College at Texas A & M University; not only is she smart as a whip, but she knows, at the tender age of 18, what kind of career she wants to pursue.
Finally we have Kirk Schiesler who’s been a junior interpreter for five years. He has always been in the minority—most of our JIs are girl. But he never seemed to mind. Kirk has always been devoted to his church and to his country. For more than a few years he’s been a member of ROTC at West Brook High School. In pursuit of his dream of a military connection in his life, Kirk is enlisting in the Naval Reserves upon graduation. He will start at Stephen F. Austin University in the fall majoring in agricultural mechanics—sounds hard!
These young people are one and all the best and the brightest, because fortunately our junior interpreter program attracts excellence. We congratulate each of them on their hard work and support them in the decisions they make about their bright futures. You are all our pride and joy. Thanks so much for sharing your time with us over these special years.
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