WA grad Kennewick battled anxiety to effect social transformation


Sarah Lindgren is a special education student who started out as a shy freshman but worked hard to gain academic and social confidence at Southridge High School. She will receive her diploma at the commencement ceremony on June 11 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.



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Distance learning has had a big impact – both mental and academic – on students.

But for Sarah Lindgren, that’s when she really took off.

After the COVID pandemic forced abrupt changes at schools, the Southridge High School sophomore found she was doing better with fewer distractions at home.

Lindgren, a special education student who also took general education classes, had struggled in school before the pandemic.

Like most students, she procrastinated in completing her homework, but quickly found that the new deadlines suited her learning needs well.

“It was the best I’ve ever done,” she told the Tri-City Herald. “A lot of kids had trouble with that, but for me it was the opposite. I was good at just about everything, including storytelling.

She found new ways to study and even made friends as the class returned to in-person.

She worked hard to develop her academic independence and social confidence. And this weekend, she will be among 344 other graduates of Southridge High’s class of 2022.

“I think Sarah finally realized she could learn content despite her health issues and the labels she was given for her learning disabilities,” said Angela Escobar, a special education instructor at Southridge and former Lindgren’s Learning Lab teacher.

“She came in first grade – very, very shy – but wanted to fully participate in high school and get this full experience,” she added.

Difficult transition

When Lindgren entered her freshman year after attending Horse Heaven Hills Middle School, she was “super shy.”

“I would be the kid hiding from everyone, especially at lunch. I didn’t even want to eat lunch because I was so scared, anxious, depressed,” Lindgren said.

Lindgren was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in her senior year and had previously been diagnosed with ADHD. It’s something she struggled with for a long time.

As a result, her mind is always racing and there is a constant feeling of unease. It was hard to make friends in high school.

She avoided lunch for most of her freshman year.

Sarah Lindgren Southridge grad 22.jpg
Sarah Lindgren is a special education student who started out as a shy freshman but worked hard to gain academic and social confidence at Southridge High School. Bob Brawdy bbrawdy@tricityherald.com

Escobar was one of the first teachers to find out.

She reiterated to Lindgren how important a good meal was and how it would help her succeed in the classroom. With the help of her parents, she began to eat more regularly.

Later in her freshman year, she also made her first friend in high school in history class and continued to make other friends that year. In her senior year, she ended up co-founding Southridge’s Dungeons & Dragons Club after school.

Lindgren says she loves art and has used drawing and coloring to overcome her anxiety.

find success

“She’s really learned to measure her success based on her effort rather than the mark she receives. And then use it as a feedback tool to learn how to improve,” Escobar said.

Experimenting with his study habits also resulted in successes.

Sometimes she will put on 20 minute deadlines with some homework. During her studies, she would call a friend to talk to him about the concepts and questions.

“It’s always been hard for me to learn and to just sit and study – it’s terrible for me,” Lindgren said. “I have to find something interesting or challenging, or something that interests me so I don’t get bored of it.”

It’s hard to sum up one highlight of the past four years, she said, but she enjoyed many of her teachers and classes: ceramics, materials science, learning lab with Escobar, and working as an assistant. at the front office.

Lindgren plans to take the summer off and enter the workforce in the fall.

She doesn’t yet know what career she wants to pursue, but hopes to find work that is both engaging and interesting.

This story was originally published June 10, 2022 1:52 p.m.

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Eric Rosane is a civic responsibility reporter who joined the Tri-City Herald in February 2022. He previously worked for the Daily Chronicle in Lewis County, covering education, county government and the Legislature . He graduated from Central Washington University in 2018.