8th grade STEAM student, Adrianna D, is 13 and loves to compete. Adrianna excels at speed and poise, as she’s a speed racer (Alpine skiing and a sprinter in track) and an accomplished equestrian. After having lunch with Adrianna and her friend Cheyenne, I learned about 2 interesting sports, more about Holland Patent’s STEAM program, and enough about this goal-oriented 8th grader to be impressed.
Sports are one of Adrianna’s main interests. She looks forward to the track season with hopes that she can beat her already impressive record of running the 100 in only 12 seconds (she’s NOT a distance runner) and to continue doing really well at hurdles. She hasn’t been sitting around watching t.v. all winter waiting for spring sports to begin, however. When she’s not playing in the snow or snowmobiling, she’s constantly on skis. She is a member of the Mohawk Valley Ski Team, she skis with the Holland Patent “Learn to Race” program, and she occasionally joins the practice of the Woods Valley Ski Team. She won second place in a citizen’s downhill race in which she was competing against approximately 30 other racers. Her ability to keep active all year keeps her really healthy! Perhaps her amazing skiing skills can be attributed to the fact that she’s been skiing “since [she] could walk.”
About 5 years ago Adrianna took on another sport that combines her love of competing and her love of animals. She is an equestrian, which means, she explains, that she is a horseback rider (but English, not Western). She and her retired racehorse, Pete, practice jumping over fences and obstacles at a very fast pace in an arena. Did you know that this is a summer Olympic sport?
Adrianna yearns to make it to the Olympics either as an equestrian or for Alpine skiing, and this is why her role model is world champion Mikaela Shiffrin, the American World Cup Alpine ski racer with the U.S. ski team. Shiffrin, the youngest winner of an Olympic gold medal for slalom downhill skiing at age 18 in the Sochi Olympics, 2014, inspires Adrianna to keep training for the same goal. It’s clear that Adrianna really keeps up on the sport as she just recently changed her role model. She used to really admire Lindsey Vonn, 2010 Winter Olympics gold medal winner for Alpine skiing (and winner of 6 consecutive Gold Cups!), but she noticed that Vonn “stopped listening to her coach” and “kept getting ahead of herself” which resulted in injuries and no Olympic medals this year. Adrianna wants to be more like Shiffrin.
Adrianna pushes herself not only in sports but in school as well, as she admits that she is “heading for the Principal’s List.” She does enjoy the STEAM program, brand new in Holland Patent this year. She admits that she wouldn’t have chosen the program if she had the choice because “the complicated schedule is always changing,” but she does really enjoy the monthly projects, especially the one where her team had to design the STEAM logo because she “liked thinking about the design.” Her favorite subjects are ELA and Art because she loves reading (especially the Warriors series), creative writing, and drawing. She’s very artistic and especially loves drawing animals. She still isn’t a “fan of Math” because “it’s always been a challenge,” but that isn’t going to stop her from making that Principal’s List! She’s competitive and goal oriented, remember?
School isn’t all for serious study, however. Adrianna thinks that building and strengthening friendships is an important part of these school years, and that would include some of her best friends like Emily, Antoinette, Cheyenne, Nicole, Karissa, and her cousin Justine. Mrs. Hughes, commonly referred to as “Mother Hughes” by this year’s 7th graders, recently said something that really influenced Adrianna’s perspective about school. It was something to the effect of, “Most of the friends you have in middle school won’t be your friends after high school.” That sounded pretty disheartening, but Adrianna took it a different way. She realized that the truth to this statement was that all of her current friends and she will all go their separate ways after high school, as they’ll be going to different colleges and pursuing different paths (Adrianna hopes to be working towards being a professional photographer), so she sees the value in maximizing her time with her friends now, as much as absolutely possible. So, she enjoys hanging out with her friends at school as much as Art and English!
What else does Adrianna enjoy? Well, right now she loves taking pictures on the camera she received for Christmas. A family friend, who is already a photographer, demonstrated how to use all of the settings and features on her camera, and Adrianna “took it from there.” She takes lots of pictures, especially of the outdoors.
Her love of photography may be a perfect match for her love of the outdoors and traveling. During this past school vacation, her family took her on a surprise vacation to Washington DC. She loved it! She enjoyed seeing the Smithsonian, the White House, and the Government building. Her favorite was the Natural Life Museum because it contained “things [she’s] never seen before, stuff about how humans came to be, the Hope Diamond, and lots of animals….” She explained that the Hope Diamond is the world’s most valuable and biggest diamond. Adrianna is the kind of person who wants to have real experiences (4-wheeling, racing, riding, skiing, traveling, etc.) and capture them on camera rather than to watch TV or movies. However, when she is listening to music, she chooses country, and if she had to pick a favorite movie, it’d be War Horse. But she’d take drawing, hanging out with her cousin and brother, or writing (if she had to stay inside) over TV and movies any day.
If Adrianna could change one thing about the world, here’s what she would do. She would stop horse slaughter and animal testing. She explained, “Our president has legalized horse slaughter” [for the purposes of selling the meat as food] and some states have started this practice*. This horrifies her as does animal testing.
What advice would Adrianna give to kids moving into 8th grade next year? “Good luck with the homework.”
So this is what I learned about Adrianna D this afternoon, and in the future, we’ll maybe see her name on the Principal’s List, in the summer or winter Olympic Games, attached to some award-winning art or creative writing, or all of the above, because this is one girl who is determined to make it.
*Actually, it turns out that there are legislative battles as to whether or not the government will actually ban horse slaughter, if the FDA will inspect plants that do, etc. There isn’t recent legislation that just began allowing it, and it would be unfair for me to condone blaming the president of the United States for this practice.