2016 graduates: Siena Podgorny — Steamboat Mountain School senior takes “say yes” approach
Steamboat Springs — Many teenagers that transfer schools during their junior year would have a hard time finding their place again just 18 months before graduation.
But that wasn’t the case for Seina Podgorny, 18, who graduated in May from Steamboat Mountain School.
Podgorny got her first taste of the then-Lowell Whiteman School as a toddler living on campus while her mother was a teacher.
She spent the rest of her life living in Paonia, Colorado, before moving back to attend Steamboat Mountain School as a boarding student during her junior year.
“It’s a really nice small community,” said Podgorny. “I feel like I’ve gotten to know so many people in the last year and a half.”
To get familiar with her new school, classmates and staff, Podgorny took a willing approach.
“I just said ‘yes’ to everything,” said Podgorny, who tried skiing, traveled to Ecuador and Tanzania with the school’s Global Immersion Studies program and pushed herself in classes, even those she found difficult, like math.
“I like learning anything,” she said. “Even math I am terrible at, but I still like that class.”
In another effort to get involved, Podgorny reached out to the campus dean who set Podgorny up as the organizer of the school’s weekly community dinner where those that live on campus and community guests can come to eat.
Podgorny organizes reservations, decides on seating arrangements and assigns student waiters and waitresses.
“Siena has taken over,” said Marta Miskolczy, director of marketing and advancement for the school.
She’ll use the skills she’s sharpened through organizing the community dinners when she returns to her summer job in Paonia, where she’s a waitress at an inn.
Podgorny’s playful spirit is a delight for those around the school community, including Academic Dean Joanne “Doc” Lasko.
“Siena laughs her way through every day as she seriously tackles her academics, selflessly gives her time to the school and consciously forms broad-reaching bonds among students and faculty,” Lasko said. “She exemplifies what it means to care about your community.”
This fall, Podgorny will leave Colorado for Washington state, where she plans to attend the University of Puget Sound.
She’s unsure of a major just yet, but is interested in psychology and science, including learning more about marine biology.
“I’ve always been in Colorado so I haven’t really gotten to explore that,” she said.
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For many, the days of riding the school bus have long passed, but watching students through the back windows of a bus that is stopped at a stop sign can bring back memories.