New Friends Make All the Difference

By Vernika Jain (4th from left), HY Board Member, an Eighth Grader at Pacific Cascade Middle School

As published in February Connections. In photo above, Vernika (middle back row) is with her HY Board friends and others, at Highlands Day 2018.

Four years ago, when I was nine years old, I zipped up my backpack and walked out of the house. We were headed to the airport to fly to Seattle. As I gazed out the window, I reminisced everything that had happened to me in California and thought about what life would be like in Issaquah Highlands. Would I like it there? Would I make friends?

I arrived in Issaquah Highlands with a heavy heart. The drive to our house was silent as everyone took in our new city, which would now be our new home. My first few days here were not how I had quite imagined. It rained incessantly; the sun never came out. A couple of days later, I started school at Grand Ridge Elementary and things started to change. I learned that the weather did not dampen my classmates spirits. They were warm and welcoming and made my transition to a new school effortless. My new friends made sure to show me around the school, catch me up on projects, help me with homework, and make sure I was at ease. Without them, I know I would have struggled.

Within my first few months of living here, I realized that Issaquah Highlands is a close-knit and special kind of community, unlike anywhere else I’ve lived. It is located in a great area close to various shops and parks where friends can meet up. The people that make up this community are kind-hearted and inclusive, and I eagerly waited for the events organized by Highlands Council.

Last year, I applied to be a member of the Highlands Youth (HY) Advisory Board to give back to the community for the welcome I’d received. I attended several of their events, which were always fun and entertaining. Being part of the board has made me feel more connected to the community because I get to brainstorm ideas with my peers and see what it takes to organize events that people enjoy.

If you are a kid moving into the Highlands, it is a great community and I’m sure you will love it! I would recommend attending the events thrown by the Highlands Youth Board because you will get to meet new people and have fun! If you are a parent helping your child adjust, stay in-the-know about upcoming events. The HY board throws a Parents Night Out twice a year, where kids can have fun and parents can have an evening to themselves.

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that a true Californian girl like me, who loved the sun, sand, and sea, would embrace the long winters by skiing and looking forward to sledding and building a snowman on snow days. If someone had told me that, this is me in a few years, I would have never believed it. In spite of the constant rain and lack of sunshine, with the cheerfulness and camaraderie throughout this community, I was able to make Issaquah Highlands my home!