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By Nancy Derr, Church School Director
All five of the thirteen year olds who will stand in front of the 9 am service on May 21 at the Rite 13 ceremony are in the seventh grade, and they all steadily attend the church school class taught by Walter and Cassie Carr. I’ve gathered a few facts about them so that you’ll know them better when you welcome them on their journey to adulthood.
Queen Balina takes advantage of what Cabin John Middle School has to offer. She especially likes the biology unit of her science class, and she’s always enjoyed English. She’s active in student government and in Model UN, representing Rwanda. Queen works in the library, too, and she was the emcee for the talent show. Queen likes to bake, and she’s a big reader, recommending the Marie Lu legend series. Queen is the youngest of four children and feels independent, as the only girl. Her advice is to establish a goal and to organize yourself by working toward it. Queen herself plans on becoming a pediatrician.
William Coffey enjoys his history class at North Bethesda Middle School, and he likes reading historical fiction, especially about World War II. William is playing Sebastian in the drama club’s “Little Mermaid’; he’s also a faithful singer in St. John’s Alleluia Choir. On Friday nights you can find him with a bowl of ice cream in front of “The Simpsons.” William likes having steady company as the middle child of three, plus the two new kittens in the household; he also enjoys getting away with his dad to Rock Bottom Restaurant. William would remind people younger than he that challenges ramp up in middle school: enjoy that time of being carefree.William Coffey enjoys his history class at North Bethesda Middle School, and he likes reading historical fiction, especially about World War II. William is playing Sebastian in the drama club’s “Little Mermaid’; he’s also a faithful singer in St. John’s Alleluia Choir. On Friday nights you can find him with a bowl of ice cream in front of “The Simpsons.” William likes having steady company as the middle child of three, plus the two new kittens in the household; he also enjoys getting away with his dad to Rock Bottom Restaurant. William would remind people younger than he that challenges ramp up in middle school: enjoy that time of being carefree.
Zahra Kehus attends Earl B. Wood Middle School in Rockville, where her favorite class is algebra. She likes soccer, but her favorite two pastimes are creating art projects with her friends and cooking. Zahra’s a fan of the TV show “Supernatural,” which is not for the faint-hearted. She is the youngest of three, plus the Kehus family has a cat, Gregory, and a dog, Simon. Zahra says she looks up to her two brothers, and that they often help her. She has traveled to Ireland twice to visit a friend. Zahra can understand Portuguese from her time in Mozambique, and she grasps a lot of Dutch as well. Zahra’s advice is: “go big.” She means, she explained, be unique, don’t stop dreaming, believe in yourself.
Ashley Sosa-Rodriquez likes her science class at Pyle Middle School – they’re studying catastrophic events – and also acting in her drama class. Ashley practices karate, sings in the Alleluia Choir, likes to bake, and to draw, and to hang out with her friends. She’s working through the Harry Potter books, and her favorite TV show is “Grey’s Anatomy.” And she makes time to take Bella Tikka, her dog, to the park. Ashley and her family traveled to Korea, and she found the food there amazing. She sees the advantage of the undivided attention from being an only child, but points out that there’s also no place to hide. Ashley advises young people to try as many things as possible, to join activities and to follow your curiosity to find what appeals to you.
Mark Vicente represents the fifth middle school, since he attends Westland. He also likes both English and science – they are focused on fossils and geology – as well as robotics. On Saturdays Mark goes rock-climbing, and he enjoyed all the hiking his family did when they visited the western canyons. Mark, the older of two brothers, likes walking Cricket, a beagle-coonhound. Mark makes new Lego creations from old sets, dreaming up adventures in which they are the props, and he reads about adventure too, enjoying the Rick Riordan series and several others. “The Future is Wild” is his choice of TV show, and his favorite restaurant is Himalayan Heritage. Mark’s advice is to advocate for yourself; keep your eyes open for opportunities that meet your needs.
Once again, I had a great time interviewing these five young people, a terrific part of my job. They are funny and good-natured. I’m delighted that church school at St. John’s is the place that they can get to know each other, since otherwise they would be on separate paths. Often people don’t realize how many great activities we have at church for teens, until they reach that age. Ahead of them lie both the intense service weeks at Camp Joy, if they participate in Youth Group, as well as the unique experience of the Journey to Adulthood pilgrimage, if they embark on the two-year class preceding it. These five young people will take their J2A journey four years from now, in 2021, but every summer of their teenage years, through high school, they are eligible to join with other St. John’s youth to help people around Berkeley Springs who need home repairs. In all of these ways, they build community with one another. These ties may not be obvious to those who do not often see the teens, but they are a significant way, nevertheless, that we enhance each other’s lives by acts of kindness.