Anna Lueck

As I begin my fourth and final year at Cate, I am reminded of where I was a little more than three years ago, a recent eighth grade graduate scared out of her wits by the thought of leaving home. I was raised on a small island in Washington State, the only child of a family whose time together is often spent reading or writing in silence, speaking only when necessary. Public speaking terrified me, as did group projects in school. For many years before Cate, I was able to scrape by in school being relatively quiet. However, once I came to this school, this was no longer possible. Every teacher I ran into encouraged me to speak and participate, drawing me into discussion and making sure I was never lost in the sea of louder voices. Teachers also encouraged me to take credit for my work and be proud of my achievements rather than hiding my skills as I had always done. "If you don't celebrate what you do," they asked, "who will?" Little by little, I found ways to be brave. First in the outdoors and the pool, places I have always been comfortable, I found a way to make my mark on this place. I found my voice in the classroom and my place on sports teams. As the years went by, I found it easier to go after things I was interested in--writing for the school newspaper, helping out with clubs, tackling advanced classes, becoming a tour guide to help out other terrified eighth graders. Even if I was unsure of myself, I always had friends and faculty members spurring me on. Facing down a wave in outdoors or an opponent in water polo, I realize the most important lesson I have learned here is not to be fearless, but to accept that fear and be courageous in spite of it. This is what I love about the school--it provides a safe environment for people to stare their fears in the eye and realize anxiety and nerves only have power if you let them get the best of you. In three years here, I have gone from being scared of uncertainty to relishing the possibilities it offers me. More importantly, I have seen Cate do the same for dozens of other people of all ages and backgrounds. In that respect, my first impression of the school was spot on--it's a place anyone can feel at home in. No matter what you're afraid of, someone will be there to help you through.