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Post Falls High School: Alexia Schaad is on the fast track to give back to her community

When 17-year-old Alexia Schaad graduates from Post Falls High School this month, she will also graduate with an Associate of Arts degree from North Idaho College.

Six days later, she plans to transition full-time to Lewis and Clark College’s Pathways to Accelerated Certification and Endorsement (PACE) program, which will earn her a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 19.

And she’s the first in her family to go to college.

Saying she’s focused on her education doesn’t begin to tell her story, a story that might not have turned out the way it did under most other circumstances.

Schaad’s parents, Kourtni and Joe Schaad, met as teenagers in California. Kourtni got pregnant when she was 15 and Joe, who was only a few years older, had just returned from a behavioral camp in Mexico. They were young people on a bumpy road.

Kourtni was able to graduate from an alternative high school, which allowed her to take baby Alexia with her to class; Joe did not return to high school, but instead began working in construction to support them.

“My father, who was a delinquent boy, told me that I was their saving grace,” Alexia Schaad said.

The teenage couple married and moved to the Coeur d’Alene area, where she worked in the service industry and he continued to do construction work.

And they took care of their baby, with their son, Austin, 12, arriving a few years later. “They came here with nothing, just me,” said Schaad, who added that while his parents, who are still married today, weren’t particularly focused on education, they were always very much there. in her life and supported her in everything she wanted to do.

“They took on a great responsibility, wanting more for me than they had, and they gave me what they never had.”

Schaad’s mother is one of seven siblings, many of whom live in the area.

“I’m the eldest of 30 cousins,” Schaad said, “so every weekend growing up, there were at least 20 family members coming together to cook and have fun. That’s a lot of quality time.

As far back as she can remember, Schaad loved reading, but as much as she loved books, she read slowly. She was enrolled in a course that helped her develop her reading skills, and she’s been a voracious reader ever since.

When she was in college, the family moved to Post Falls, and in high school she took classes with honors, including courses that counted toward a college degree. She has participated in student government, DECA, and the North Idaho Science Fair. During her junior and senior years, most of her activities focused on the community, particularly through Real Life Ministries, where she led a middle school group and participated in a worship group. She also works as a barista.

Her parents gave her the warm, secure family she needed to thrive, she said, and “my teachers kept me going and gave me the educational support I needed to get here”.

Schaad is particularly drawn to mentoring young people, including her cousins, and plans to become a middle school teacher.

“I know what I received from my teachers and how some of them allowed me to continue my studies,” she said. “Now I hope to be that person in the lives of the students in my class.”