Andi Garcia-Ortiz, our 2018 'Amazing Kid,' strives daily to make her school and community better.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Andrea Garcia-Ortiz has been pushing herself to leave her community a better place before she graduates from high school. She works to feed the homeless, help younger students and donate blood to those who need it.Andi Garcia-Ortiz's room is what you'd expect from most high school seniors.

Photos of family and friends line the walls. Her desk is filled with artwork Garcia-Ortiz has made. Near her bed is a pennant for the Los Angeles Chargers.

And then there's Stanley, the human skeleton Andi keeps near her window.

"Stanley is my pride and joy," said Garcia-Ortiz, 18. "That's definitely the best thing in my room."

The Glencoe High School senior sees nothing strange about her bedroom decor. She plans to study premed in college next year. Each of the skeleton's bones is labeled with its scientific name.

"I've gotta study," she said.

But it's Garcia-Ortiz' work outside the classroom that led teachers to nominate her for this year's Amazing Kids award from the Hillsboro Tribune.

Check out the Pamplin Media Group's 2018 Amazing Kids publication in a digital flipping book format.

An honor roll student all four years at Glencoe, Garcia-Ortiz works to better her school and her community every day.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Eighteen-year-old Andrea Garcia-Ortiz, a senior at Glencoe High School who plans to study premed in college, describes her human replica skeleton 'Stanley' as the best thing in her room."I really like helping out the community and the feeling you get knowing you left someplace better than when you came," Garcia-Ortiz said. "My goal in life is to affect as many people positively as I can. Service is a way to know you made someone's day. Even if you just spend two hours planting trees, those plants will make the world a little bit better and bring someone else happiness."

Outside of school, she served as a camp counselor for a special-needs basketball clinic last year and works to recruit and educate blood donors for Bloodworks Northwest. She also has worked as a camp counselor at a local girls' soccer camp since 2015.

Garcia-Ortiz has packaged food at the Oregon Food Bank for the past few years and got CPR- and AED-certified so she would know how to respond in an emergency.

She helps plant native plants and every few months visits Portland as part of Night Strike, a community service group organized to feed and care for Portland's homeless community.

"Community service lets you meet people you'd never meet and do things you've never done before," Garcia-Ortiz said. "I've made it my goal this year to get out of my comfort zone and see how many new experiences I can have. I want to leave Glencoe knowing that I made an impact in people's lives."

Garcia-Ortiz said her first experience helping with Night Strike opened her eyes to a level of service she'd never thought of before.

"It was cold, but everyone was so sweet and polite," she said. "I thought, 'This is what I want to do all the time.'"

Growing up, Andi's father, José Garcia, made a point of bringing his daughter to volunteer with the Oregon Food Bank, and to worksites for Habitat for Humanity.

"We came from low-income families," said Andi's mother, Georgina Garcia, who works as a school psychologist for the Beaverton School District. "Education helped us get out of there. We want to give back and it's important for us to give others a hand, if we can."

At Glencoe, Garcia-Ortiz works with freshmen as they transition from middle school into high school and serves in the school's Key Club, which performs community service activities. She also finds time to play soccer and participate in track and field, as well as manage the Glencoe basketball team. She's active with Health Occupation Students of America, a health-sciences club for premed students at Glencoe.

Garcia-Ortiz has dreams of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Even this career goal is geared toward helping others.

"I've seen people with broken bones. It sucks," she said. "I'd really enjoy being able to give people back the [activities] that they love to do."

"Plus," she added, "surgery is just awesome."

Read more about this year's Amazing Kids honorees and the April 30, 2018, event at which their accomplishments were celebrated.

Garcia-Ortiz is always willing go above and beyond to help her classmates, according to Barbara Scott, a Glencoe math teacher who nominated her for the award.

"It is truly rare for me to find a high school student who puts the welfare of others as a priority," Scott said. "Andrea exemplifies this in everything she does. That is easily observed in the classroom when she takes time to help those who are struggling with an assignment, knowing that it will result in her needing to take her assignment home and complete it on her own time. She willingly gives of herself to help others."STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Glencoe High School senior Andrea Garcia-Ortiz enjoys giving back to her community, something her parents and teachers have taken note of.

Editor's note: This story is adapted from a feature that originally appeared in the 2018 Amazing Kids publication produced by the Pamplin Media Group, the News-Times' parent company.

By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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