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An interview with our 2016 Valedictorian and Salutatorian

June 03, 2016
By Cascade Christian Schools

The Cascade Chronicle asked our CCHS Valedictorian Jane Cooksley and Salutatorian Emma Suiter to take a few minutes out of their busy schedules and answer some questions about where they are headed and how they feel CCS has prepared them. These are two beautiful young women, who, along with the rest of the Class of 2016, have a bright future ahead of them!

CC: What are your future plans?

Cooksley: This next fall I will be attending Northwest University in Kirkland, WA. I will be majoring in nursing and receiving my bachelor’s degree after four years. Throughout my time at Northwest I will also be studying music and Spanish, hopefully becoming fluent by the time I graduate. I would love to be involved in mission work and to participate in leadership on campus. After graduating college I plan to become a pediatric hospital nurse. Eventually I would love to get married and start a family. I believe the Lord is going to use me in incredible ways and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds.

Suiter: I will be attending Azusa Pacific University down in southern California this fall. After college, I hope to travel the world quite a bit. My plan is to write novels for the rest of my life. I have been at Cascade Christian for eight years now—ever since Mr. Qualls's fifth grade class—so it's a bit mind-bending to think about all this, and realize that I'm about to leave and move on in my life. But I hope I never forget CCS, or what I've learned here.

CC: How has CCS prepared you academically for your future?

Cooksley: I believe Cascade Christian has provided me with a diverse and challenging education. They have offered classes which allowed me to explore both my interests and passions. I believe many teachers have tried their best to prepare us for what we might see in a college education, but have also given us a strong support system, generously offering time and assistance along the way. In the past two years I have been able expand my knowledge of many different subjects and challenge myself with AP and concurrent classes. Cascade Christian encourages all of their students to push themselves to their highest potential, but also to participate in things which drive their passion and excitement. I think I am very prepared for my next step in education and I look forward to using the skills I have obtained thus far.

Suiter: Cascade Christian has taught me how to prioritize the things that are important to me, especially academically. Besides teaching me about their subjects, my teachers have taught me a lot about life and God and perspective. I learned to think critically and to attack my schoolwork with determination and passion at the same time. Essentially, CCS has taught me how to learn, and that is an invaluable tool in my future.

CC: How has CCS prepared you spiritually/personally?

Cooksley: I believe I have really grown both spiritually and personally throughout my time at CCS. I have had incredible opportunities to step up as a leader in both areas. Leading on worship team has allowed me to minister to people through music, and use my gifts for the glory of the Lord. I have become very aware of the need for knowledge and understanding of God’s Word, and being at Cascade Christian has helped me realize that that needs to be at the forefront of my walk with Christ. I have been blessed with the opportunity to lead and mentor younger students, encouraging them with God’s Word. I-terms have been the best experiences of my life. Serving others has helped me strengthen my relationship with many people, and most importantly with the Lord. To be able to do this in some of the coolest places on earth is an experience I will never forget. In just these past two years, I have developed into a stronger, wiser, and more confident individual, and it was truly a blessing from the Lord to be placed at Cascade Christian.

Suiter: Spiritually, Cascade Christian has both challenged and nurtured my faith-walk.  I've learned to think deeply about my faith, even when that means asking hard questions and be willing to accept difficult answers. My senior Bible class has taught me that it's okay to ask these questions, and to not have all the answers, because my understanding doesn't change who God is. He is eternal, He is unchanging, and He is King. As he says in Isaiah 55:9, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." But in addition to wrestling with all of those theological questions, CCS taught me to look at the Bible as one incredible, breathtaking whole—the one Truth that I can rely on in the midst of all my human wrestling and doubt. Cascade Christian also taught me that at the end of the day, practically, all of this theology is very simple—and it involves a lot of humility and a lot of grace, for both myself and for others. As Micah 6:8 says: "What does the LORD require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God".

God is the most true and innate part of who I am; so in developing me spiritually Cascade Christian has had a huge part in my personal growth. I've also learned very practically how to love and care for people, how to listen. CCS taught me servant leadership, and the humility that goes with that. My English teachers have also taught me a lot about good writing, which is incredibly important to me, since I want to be an author. I am also forever grateful to Cascade Christian for giving me a second home where I could learn to be completely and freely myself, with all of my wild, unconventional personality.

CC: What is your favorite memory of school at CCS?

Cooksley: I honestly don’t think I could pick one memory which supersedes the rest of them. However, there are quite a few that top my charts. I think the football team winning the state championship, the volleyball team making it to state, or our class winning buff puff last year are all contenders for favorite memories. Going to Los Angeles and South Africa were definitely the most exciting and amazing memories that I have with the Cascade Christian family. Those weeks spent serving others and exploring the world cannot be compared to anything else. However, I can honestly say that my whole experience at Cascade Christian has been one huge blessing. From the first week I started, I knew that God had placed me right where I needed to be and He has continued to bless me throughout the whole experience.

Suiter: I don't think I can pick a favorite memory at CCS. From ASB, to hanging out with people in my class at all hours and all locations, to getting to know all sorts of amazing people from other classes, to I-Term. My heart aches a little bit right now thinking about it, just because I know that soon this chapter in my life will be ended. But it's been one amazing chapter, that's for sure.

CC: Who do you admire?

Cooksley: I really admire Job. If I could strive to be like any individual, aside from Christ, I would want to be like Job. In the midst of losing everything, and feeling completely lost and hopeless, He chose to remain faithful and obedient to the Lord. I have everything I could ask for and more, and yet I struggle to honor Christ every day. I hope that as I grow older, my faith can grow to be even a fraction of what Job’s was. I want to live a life where losing everything for Christ goes without question, because I can be confident of the blessings that will come with faithfulness and obedience to God.

Suiter: I admire so many people at Cascade Christian, from my fellow students—who, I learn more and more every day, have all sorts of amazing talents and personalities—to my principal Dr. Friesen, to my teachers. And the office ladies are wonderful here—like a combination of school moms and field agents. There have been days when I've come to school so heavy and downcast, and I walk into the office, and Mrs. Barnett or Mrs. Gates or Mrs. Warren will say something that lifts my spirit right back up again. People sometimes ask me who my favorite teacher is, and I list one, followed by another, and another. One time I was doing this with my mom and I realized I couldn't count all of my favorite teachers on one hand…or on two. Because all of my teachers have poured so much into me—more even than they know. I love them all, I'm so grateful for their dedication and for what they've taught me, and I will never forget them. They've encouraged me in my writing, in my walk with Christ; they've helped make me who I am, and left my heart full to bursting.

So now comes the end of a chapter for me. But it is also a wonderful beginning.

I pray that all the future students at Cascade Christian realize just what a gift they've been given in this school.