Small Town News


Transfer student embraces pursuits at NMHS

Belfair Herald of Belfair, Washington

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It's hard to imagine growing up in a town smaller than Belfair, but Brinnon transplant Austin Sandquist knows what it's like.

The North Mason High School senior and his family moved to Shelton last year, after spending most of Sandquist's childhood on a 36-acre home in Jefferson County.

"It was awesome," he said. "We lived in the Duck-abush Valley. I really, really miss it."

Sandquist, who is the oldest of six children, was born in Redmond, but his parents chose to move to Brinnon when he was 2, in order to get away from city life.

They also decided to home-school their children instead of placing them within the Brinnon School District.

"There was no stoplight in Brinnon, but I had a lot of friends from Quilcene," Sandquist said.

The family relocated to Shelton after Sandquist's mother could no longer home-school the children —she is currently pursuing her master's degree in Christian counse1ing, Sandquist said.

"Our lives were kind of transitioning," he said. "We wanted my brother and sisters to attend a Christian school, so we moved to Shelton."

Sandquist's youngest siblings (Ava, 8, Avery, 10, Gus, 12, and Arin, 13) attend Mason County Christian School, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Shelton, while he and his sister Alivia attend North Mason High.

Sandquist chose to go to school in Belfair, rather than Shelton, because NMHS is a smaller school with a basketball program that appealed to him.

"I liked the history and the coaching staff," he said. Sandquist has played basketball for four years now, two of which were at Quilcene High School while he was home-schooled.

"I like how basketball is really fast-paced and upbeat," he said. "Plus, I think I'm just naturally gifted at it because I have good hand eye coordination."

The transition from being home-schooled to taking part in a typical high school experience has been easy, Sandquist said.

"There's a lot of awesome kids here at this school and a really welcoming group of people," he said. "It was also easy since I had played sports for the high school."

As the oldest child, Sandquist usually finds himself thrust in a leadership role, and he takes pride in being a role model, especially a spiritual one, to his younger siblings.

"It was a lot of fun growing up being the oldest," he said. "It was always pretty easy. Being a role model in spiritual faith, I've always had to be a role model in that sense."

In that vein, Sandquist hopes to go to Olympic College next year for an associate's degree and then finish his bachelor's at Multnomah University, a biblical college and seminary school, in Portland, Ore.

"I want to go into the ministry to become a pastor," he said. "I feel like I'm a naturally gifted leader. I kind of feel like I've been molded to that."

The senior would also like to minor in music, one of his many passions —he's played piano for 12 years and guitar for three years, and he also plays bass and drums.

He's not in a band now because he's too busy, but he does play music for his church, Shelton First Baptist, and youth group.

Sandquist's other passions include writing (he's currently enrolled in AP Literature and Composition and last year he took AP Language) and acting (he's performed in plays like "A Christmas Carol" and "The Importance of Being Earnest" since he was 5).

He says he gets his creativity from his parents: his father is a "ridiculously good" professional cabinetmaker, while his mom is good at interior decorating, he said.

When he's not busy with his artistic pursuits, or basketball and football, Sandquist dedicates his time to the Student club, helping other new kids transition into North Mason High.

"When I first moved here, they really helped me out a lot," he said. "I think the best thing to help with new kids is to figure out what excites them and be excited with them, just to show that you care. It's a really big deal."

Copyright 2012 Belfair Herald, Belfair, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: January 19, 2012

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