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Lifetime C.S. Lewis Academy student Kollin Raudsepp and senior transfer Catherine Higgins headline the class of 2016

C.S. Lewis Academy seniors Kollin Raudsepp and Catherine Higgins will share the stage for graduation ceremonies Friday night at George Fox University’s Bauman Auditorium as valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the class of 2016.

There is very little separating their grade point averages, as Raudsepp posted a 3.99 and Higgins a 3.98, but the paths they took in becoming the small Christian school’s top students in the class of 2016 couldn’t have been more different. SETH GORDON - C.S. Lewis Academy valedictorian Kollin Raudsepp and salutatorian Catherine Higgins took different paths to the top of the class of 2016. Raudsepp has attended CSLA since pre-school, whereas Higgins was homeschooled before enrolling as a senior this school year.

Raudsepp, on one hand, has attended CSLA since pre-school, is the son of a current board member and saw both of his sisters graduate as Watchmen, so it’s been safe to assume he would follow suit.

A homeschool student her entire life, Higgins never expected to be part of any graduating class before deciding to enroll at C.S. Lewis as a senior in an effort to make her transition to college smoother.

Raudsepp has a very analytical mind and plans to pursue a degree in computer science at the University of Portland, whereas Higgins is more artistic and will apply her creative talents as a graphic design major at George Fox.

Despite the difference in the amount of time spent at C.S. Lewis, both excelled there and pointed to the same thing in identifying the most important lessons and opportunities it provided to them.

“It’s taught me the value of relationships in general,” Raudsepp said. “Nurturing a relationship over a long period of time is going to be a very useful skill wherever I go.”

Higgins’ main expectation in enrolling was to become more comfortable in the classroom, but she surprised herself at how engaged she became in all aspects of the school, from homecoming activities and lip sync competitions to costume days and performing in the musical this spring.

She was especially appreciative of how much interaction there was between students in different grades, as well as the encouraging atmosphere and efforts made to make her feel welcome.

“My horizons were widened because I met more people, which is strange because it isn’t a very big school,” Higgins said. “I think it was very helpful to get connected with so many people that care about the community and care about the kids here.”

Raudsepp played soccer and basketball for C.S. Lewis and two years of lacrosse at Newberg High School and, according to teacher Brenda Buckner, it was in his athletic endeavors that his leadership skills truly came to the forefront, as his talent and passion transcended his relatively quiet demeanor.

“I’ve really seen his desire for excellence, whether in academics or sports, influence others,” Buckner said. “That’s what I appreciate. Leaders don’t have to be bombastic.”

Colleague Jeff Adams noted how self-motivated both Raudsepp and Higgins are, expressing his appreciation for never having to check in on them.

Having gotten to know her, Adams is not surprised that Higgins ended up engaging in so many of the social and academic aspects of the school, saying that what comes to mind first about her is character.

“I wrote in a recommendation for her that I would love for my daughter to turn out like her,” Adams said. “She’s thoughtful, kind and hard working. She’s jumped in and taken on a lot of what the seniors have done. She’s talented. She’s fit right in.”

Adams praised Raudsepp not only for his immense academic and athletic talent, but his leadership.

“My biggest role has been finding ways to challenge him,” Adams said. “I’ve done that on a number of levels and he’s responded very well.”

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