Super Kid: Ariel Jensen, 17, Lakewood High School
A: I'm a Lakewood Lifer, as we say here. Kindergarten and all 12 grades. I love our school. We have about 200 students in our senior class and we're all friends.
Q: What is something most people don't know about you?
A: Well, I look like my Norwegian heritage with blond hair and blue eyes, but I also am part Potawatomi Indian.
Q: Your principal, Dale Leach, said you missed a semester of your sophomore year. What happened?
A: I was running cross-country and was working hard, but I was so tired. My times were way off what I had achieved as a freshman. Five minutes slower. My coach Jeff Sowards urged me to get my blood checked.
Q: What happened?
A: Within 24 hours I was in Seattle Children's Hospital. My platelets and red and white blood cell counts were low. I was checked for leukemia, but it turned out not to be cancer. I have a rare form of anemia, idiopathic aplastic anemia. Idiopathic means the doctors don't know what causes it. I still have to get blood checks every two weeks to make sure I am OK.
Q: A friend who was a senior that year started a bone marrow drive for you?
A: Yes, Channie Dondrea got 47 people signed up for the bone marrow transplant list. Then we decided not to go the route of a transplant and opted for drug therapy instead. I was in the hospital for a while and couldn't get back to school that semester.
Q: Did you fall behind?
A: Yes, and I still am catching up on my classes, but thanks to Mr. Leach it looks as if I am on track to graduate in June. I also have been attending Everett Community College this year.
Q: Is that a heavy load?
A: Yes. At times it's overwhelming, but I know I will get through it. This quarter I have calculus and physics here at school, and then I drive to Everett for my global studies class. The rest of the day is spent working to catch up on world history and biology. I am an honor society member, but I don't have time right now to do any reading for pleasure or any hobbies.
Q: How is it at the community college?
A: It's OK. My brother Avery is there, as is our friend and former Lakewood exchange student Matt Horseman. Matt lives with my family. He's from southern China. It's great having him and his English is really improving.
Q: What music do you like?
A: Taylor Swift. With her new album "Red" she is redefining country music.
Q: Do you like the Christmas season?
A: I love Christmas. If you have a chance you should go to the Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach. Their doughnuts are really good.
Q: Do you have volunteer work you like to do?
A: I have participated in the track team's kids camp each year. It's really fun because the little kids really get into it.
Q: So what happened to your cross-country career?
A: Well, I play on a select soccer team, so in the fall of my junior year I played soccer at school. I've been playing soccer since I was a 5-year-old. But this year I went back to cross-country and I was able to make it to state. It was cool. Lots of people made the trip over to Pasco to see me run in the state meet.
Q: Do you participate in other sports?
A: I run track in the spring. The Everett Community College cross-country coach would like me to run there next year.
Q: You plan to earn an associate degree at Everett?
A: That would make sense, but I am also applying to some other colleges where I might have a chance to run cross-country. And I am applying to the University of Washington.
Q: What do you want to study?
A: My time at Children's was really eye-opening. People are working hard there to make life better for kids. I want to go into the medical field, and I would like to work at that hospital. I am not sure I want to spend the 12 years it takes to become a doctor. Perhaps a nurse or a nurse practitioner.
I also had another good experience that came out of being at Children's.
Q: What happened?
A: Because aplastic anemia can be fatal, my doctor at Children's signed me up with the Make A Wish Foundation. This past summer they sent us to the Olympics in London. I got to see the U.S. women's soccer team win their gold medal, and I got to meet the team. It was really, really cool.
Herald writer Gale Fiege
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