Fifth-grader Rachael Henske balances her schoolwork with diverse passions - she is an avid swimmer, speller, martial artist, and musician.
She says the St. Andrew’s community has supported her and encouraged her to suceed.
“St. Andrew’s has helped me learn to never give up and that it is okay to make mistakes,” she said.
Rachael, who started at St. Andrew’s in first grade, says art is her favorite subject because she can be creative. “I don’t have to follow specific instructions – I can style my artwork however I want.”
Her portfolio of pursuits outside the classroom are just as original. Last year she swam in her first Junior Olympics, and expects to swim in several events this year, including breaststroke and individual medley (IM).
She has played the guzheng, a Chinese harp, for two years. She recently received a gold medal for her performance of "Happy Farmer" at the Princeton International Chinese Music Festival.
“It felt really good,” Rachael said of her accomplishment. “I felt nice because my teacher recognized that I was good enough to do it.”
March will be packed for Rachael. She will test for her black belt in karate and represent St. Andrew’s on March 3 at the regional spelling bee – she won the Intermediate/Middle School spelling bee in January with the word “Kilimanjaro.”
When it comes to balancing her activities, Rachael said it’s all about her approach.
“You have to put different mindsets on each one,” she said. “The mindset for karate might not work for spelling, and the mindset for swimming might not work for guzheng.”
Her parents, Dr. Melissa Stick and Capt. Stephen Henske, said she has received incredible support from her teachers and classmates.
“Her teachers have accommodated requests for homework in advance when Rachael had to miss school because of swimming and music competitions, have made school fun while continuing to challenge her, and provided an environment where she is happy.”
“St. Andrew’s has an incredible community of students, as evidenced by the support and enthusiasm displayed at the spelling bee. Rachael is fortunate to be a part of St. Andrew’s,” Stick said.
Rachael said she is looking forward to meeting new teachers and making new friends in middle school, and aspires to study medicine after she graduates.