-- Age: 18
-- Graduates: Wednesday
-- GPA: 3.7
-- What's next?: Hicks is headed to study art and animation at the
-- For more graduation stories, visit yakimaherald.com/graduation.
The 18-year-old is the senior class president at the
But in eighth grade, when her parents transferred her from
"I was still in my shell when I started here, but they cracked it and I've made lifelong friends here," Hicks said. "This school is like a family."
Coming to a small school opened up a lot more opportunities, Hicks said, especially to be a leader. She played basketball, competed with the track team, and wrote letters to local businesses asking for donations to sponsor school activities.
Principal Reyln Strom said Hicks' leadership and initiative have had a big impact on the school community. She and her friends were the ones who dreamed up a trip to
"She's helping to change our image here, getting the word out that
"Mariah shows that you can go to college when you go to
Hicks is headed to the
She's always been passionate about art and, last year, she attended a two-day workshop at the
"When I went to AI, it was really fun and I could just see myself doing it, like for a long time. Something clicked," Hicks said.
Hicks draws inspiration for her art from all kinds of sources, from video games to her horse, Red. She's done portraits of her teachers and drawings inspired by traditional tribal art.
"I just draw what I like," Hicks said. "I'm inspired by Disney and Japanese anime (a type of animation). I want to incorporate both and come up with my own style."
The small animation program, like her small high school, is appealing, Hicks said.
Plus, she has
She plans to move soon after graduation because classes start in July. Moving on feels both exciting and a little bittersweet after five years with her
"This school and the teachers, that's what I'll miss. This whole school really left an indent in my brain."
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