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Grace Academy valedictorian heads to the moon

Grace Academy sent 23 young people off into the world last month, including from left, top row; Thomas Bethel and Andrew Conklin. Next row, valedictorian Natalie Spencer, Andrea Cline, Stuart Montgomery, Kimberly Weinberg, salutatorian Kaitlyn Retherford and Nicholas OKelly. Next row: Erik Larson, Rodion Novozhiov, Courtney Webb, Levi Wennersten, Ian Lugg, Derek George and Eric Munneke. Front row: Dolly Singh, Angela Roberts, Trechie May Tubera, Nicholas lee, Jason Plumb, Esther Martin and LaShani Rios. -
Grace Academy sent 23 young people off into the world last month, including from left, top row; Thomas Bethel and Andrew Conklin. Next row, valedictorian Natalie Spencer, Andrea Cline, Stuart Montgomery, Kimberly Weinberg, salutatorian Kaitlyn Retherford and Nicholas OKelly. Next row: Erik Larson, Rodion Novozhiov, Courtney Webb, Levi Wennersten, Ian Lugg, Derek George and Eric Munneke. Front row: Dolly Singh, Angela Roberts, Trechie May Tubera, Nicholas lee, Jason Plumb, Esther Martin and LaShani Rios.
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MARYSVILLE Aptitude plus attitude equals altitude.
When Natalie Spencer of Arlington heard that phrase, she took it to heart and hopes someday to take it all they way to outer space.
The Grace Academy class of 2007 Valedictorian soars both in and out of school and takes her faith as seriously as her studies.
With a perfect 4.0 grade point average, that says a lot. And the 18-year-old had a lot to say at when she graduated along with 22 other seniors last month at the Christian school next to Cedarcrest Golf Course.
Spencer touched on the work of God in her address and later explained how the beauty of creation spurred her to get a pilots license and aim to be an astronaut someday. She will study engineering but the race is for space, she said.
Ive always just looked up at the sky and how beautiful it is, Spencer said, stressing that every thing God created is beautiful, including space, something she described as A beautiful, untouched place that I would like to explore. When I found at that you actually can go up there, I was fascinated. It was an impossible dream only a century earlier.
She will study at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., where she will major in engineering physics. Shes aware that a male-dominated field might be tough, but Spencer said that kind of academic pedigree will help her chances of working at NASA.
I think it can be a challenge in some ways, Spencer said. I think women have to be careful.
Often women breaking new ground for their gender say they want equality but often dont want to bear the consequences, according to Spencer.
Its all about the person, the individuals skills and not the gender, she added. I am going to be careful, I want people to judge me by my skills. I dont think its an issue as long as people dont make it an issue.
Spencer has a huge list of activities that make you wonder how she fits it all in: yearbook editor, tour guide, six years on the student leadership council, National Honor Society President, varsity soccer, basketball and track, as well as playing on the golf team and serving as a page in the Washington State Senate. In addition to earning her pilots license Spencer was a volunteer with the Future of Flight during her junior and senior years. She also plays the saxophone, likes playing with computers, baking desserts and performing in choir.
Her list of awards and honors are literally too numerous to mention they would look like General MacArthurs ribbons. Suffice it to say that in addition to a scholarship from the Marysville Rotary, she earned seven others from various organizations including her chosen school and the Museum of Flight. The daughter of two public school teachers, Spencer is quick to commend the smaller environs of Grace Academy.
Its a great education, Spencer said. I did fine on the SAT and all that. Its home away from home.
Her graduation speech reminded the graduates of the long line of believers who have kept and spread the faith for 20 centuries. Being part of that chain can be confining, Spencer said, but it is also a reassuring tether that keeps a believer from wandering off the correct path.
There is just a legacy of people who have been willing to stand up for Christ, Spencer explained a few days after commencement. Its something we cant break, we have to continue the legacy.

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