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Hop, jump and two skips

McKay, 13, is the youngest freshman at WLHS


by: VERN UYETAKE  - Sarah McKay, 13, is the youngest freshman at West Linn High School. The well-rounded girl skipped two grades and estimates she spends three hours each night on homework. Although Sarah McKay just turned 13, she has already taken life into her own hands. The youngest freshman at West Linn High School chose to skip eighth grade in effort to stay focused and engaged in her academic career.

It's not the only grade McKay has skipped. The bright, young girl from West Linn also skipped first grade.

The would-be seventh-grader began taking high school classes last year while attending Athey Creek Middle School.

“I was in my counselor's office and I just brought it up,” McKay said, noting she originally planned to take four high school classes this year. “I said, 'Well, can't I just be a freshman?'”

The decision, she added, surprised her parents and was done “mainly for academics” yet “lacrosse also came came to mind.”

McKay is currently taking Advanced Placement geography, chemistry, trigonometry, Spanish II and leadership. Her favorite subjects are math and science, and she estimates she spends about three hours per night on homework.

“I just took the ACT test,” she said, smiling. “I got a higher score than I was expecting.”by: VERN UYETAKE  - Sarah McKay estimates she spends three hours each night on homework.

The transition academically from middle school to high school has been smooth so far.

“The workload is very different. It's not extremely hard, just different,” she said. “I have more homework and studying. ... I had a few Bs at the beginning of the semester but now I've gotten those grades up.”

This spring, she plans to run for sophomore class director of the West Linn High School Associated Student Body. She said about half her classmates know she's the youngest person in school, the other half just assume she is a middle school transfer student.

“I was a little bit nervous socially,” she said. “But it's not like I'm a shy girl, I'm not very shy at all. It would have been a different decision if I was quieter. Being involved in leadership has helped me alot.”

This year, the former gymnast was captain of the JVII soccer team at West Linn High School. But her real passion is lacrosse. McKay has been playing lacrosse for six years.

She plays an attack position year round with Club Lacrosse Northwest and will start her first season at West Linn High School in February.

“I'm a little worried about my age,” she said, wondering if coaches will treat her differently. “But I've been playing on high school club teams for a few years.”

Her ultimate goal is to play lacrosse for a Division I college.

“I like the intensity of the game and how it's a lot different from any other sport that most girls play,” she said. “You really have to work as a team.”

Although still quite a few years down the road, McKay wants to become a doctor because she enjoys science and helping people.

“I used to like Stanford University but now I've kind of opened my mind a bit,” she said, expressing interest in both Stanford's academic standing and lacrosse team.

Until then, McKay is busy with homework, practice and the joys of being the middle sibling in her family. Ultimately, she is happy she took her academic career into her own capable hands.

“I'm just really happy with how the year is going,” she said. “I've had a couple of struggles with my grades but I've gotten those up. I'm just really glad that I skipped eighth grade.”




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