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Wed, June 26

Trinity Christian's valedictorian is school's youngest graduate

Lisa Irish/The Daily Courier<br>
K’Tera Bartels, 14, is valedictorian of Trinity Christian School’s 2012 graduating class and its youngest graduate.

Lisa Irish/The Daily Courier<br> K’Tera Bartels, 14, is valedictorian of Trinity Christian School’s 2012 graduating class and its youngest graduate.

Trinity Christian School valedictorian K'Tera Bartels wrapped up her busy senior year at an age when most teenagers start going to high school.

K'Tera, at 14, is the youngest graduate the Prescott school has had in its nine-year history, and she started attending the school when she was 4 years old, said Carole Stensrud, stewardship and community advancement director of Trinity Christian School.

"K' Tera started reading when she was 3," said Benjamin Bartels, K'Tera's father. "We knew we had to do something to keep her interested in learning, but we couldn't enroll her in a public school when she was 4 because of government restrictions."

So Bartels said he and his wife, Dr. Shelly Klein, brought K'Tera to the private school that eventually became Trinity Christian where teachers were "flexible to let K'Tera work at her own pace."

K'Tera said what she appreciates most is the critical thinking skills she's learned.

"We were taught logic, rhetoric, how to thoroughly research, filter issues through our own experiences, compare them throughout history, and not to take what we're told at face value," K'Tera said. "We learned how to think things through, not what to think. That's a subtle thing."

It's also the essence of the classical education taught at Trinity Christian School, Stensrud said.

Like many students, K'Tera took online college classes, played sports, and performed in school plays.

"I really like being part of a team, and doing my part," said K'Tera, who plays basketball and soccer.

K'Tera, who portrayed Agatha Christie in the school play of "Murder by the Book," said seeing things from another person's point of view makes acting rewarding.

Last summer, K'Tera sharpened her creative writing skills by attending a Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth summer program, and experienced life in Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C., and Boston while vacationing with her family.

This year, K'Tera presented her thesis on mythology and culture and performed the violin with the Prescott Pops Symphony.

"It's a great experience being a part of the symphony and playing with those accomplished musicians," K'Tera said. "Now when I listen to music, I can hear the strings section and pick out the other instruments out of the entire piece."

After graduation, K'Tera said she plans to continue taking college classes online through Rio Salado College and attend classes at Yavapai College to complete core requirements for a bachelor's degree. She said she is considering attending Grand Canyon University and majoring in psychology.

"I plan to build off that and eventually go to graduate school," K'Tera said.

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