Graduation falls on Mother’s day more often than not here in Atchison County! For all the mothers (and fathers) who have a high school graduate….it’s bittersweet.
I am Marisa (Smith) Hedlund and this is my seventh year as the Fairfax K-12 counselor. I was born at the Community Hospital, grew up in Atchison County, graduated from Fairfax High School and from Missouri State, and then moved with my husband Chris to Charlotte, North Carolina. After 10 years in North Carolina, my husband and I decided that Fairfax was the place to be. Chris grew up in California, graduating with 300 compared to me graduating with 20! We wanted to get out of the city and raise our growing family in a rural area close to my parents and grandparents. Luckily, there was a position for a guidance counselor open at FHS, and a family farmhouse available. Sadly, I needed to go back to graduate school and the house needed a major renovation! Thank goodness for my family that could help us out!
That was eight years ago and we are now more settled in compared to our first year here in Atchison County! We have three children that never cease to amaze us and never give us a break in all their activities! Ian (9), Natalie (7) and Collin (5) have all the opportunities to be involved in basketball, baseball, soccer, dance and gymnastics, but get to grow up in a place where everyone knows their name and looks out for them! Am I worried about them having these opportunities when they get in high school? Nope! I know that they will be able to participate in almost everything our friends in Kansas City or Charlotte are doing. And, our kids in Atchison County will be able to be in multiple organizations, activities and sports. This helps to create well-rounded individuals that will be more likely to be successful. I know, because I consider myself one of those people who benefited from being in EVERY sport and EVERY organization I could in school.
Our students who are graduating this week have, just like me, been involved in everything. We have students who are in every sport, both FCCLA and FHA (wow, I didn’t even do that) and every other organization we offer. They also perform in band, swing choir and the school play, which they had to spend countless after school hours practicing! Some even take several college dual credit classes online to get a head start on their college career. These kids are involved! Who says living in the country is boring?
My fellow counselors, Shauna and Tracy, and I are sending the graduates off to NWMSU, MU, MWSU, Peru, SECC and countless other colleges to continue to be involved and make their place in the world! We also have former students graduating from those colleges who will be our future radiologists, physical therapists, electricians and teachers. I am so proud of them and I wish them luck wherever they land. I know some of them never want to get too far away from home and some of them need a chance to see the world, leaving their friends and family in Atchison county behind. Someday, I hope they will come back to our county, like me!