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The growth of 8th grader Emily Arroyo, now a NVMS leader

For eighth grader Emily Arroyo, a bit of self-reflection in her young life has led her to some already profound conclusions. Those conclusions have propelled her into leadership roles at Nooksack Valley Middle School as Arroyo serves as captain of the cross country team while embracing the lessons she knows she must still learn. 

“I think that I gave into peer pressure when I was in sixth grade and I regretted that a great deal,” she says. “Cross country was where I found my passion, where I found people who cared about me and where I found out who I truly wanted to be and how I wanted to carry myself.”

Now, as the team captain in her second year with the squad, NVMS ASB advisor Maria Sanford calls Arroyo a positive role model and an “excellent leader for her teammates.”

“She encourages others, is inclusive and inspires us all with her training she does outside of practices for races, having just completed a half marathon (on Oct. 6),” Sanford says.

This year Arroyo also embraced her creative side, designing team gear and a team logo. She drew four designs for her team, which they voted on. In the end, it was her NASA-inspired logo everyone agreed would mark the team.

As team captain, it is about more than designing logos and training, with Arroyo’s goal “to make sure all of the kids are enjoying themselves, working their hardest and improving themselves,” she says. “They can have someone to lean on if they need it. I have learned that running won’t ever be easy for me because there is always room to improve.”

For Arroyo, that improvement has come at the benefit of those around her.