Chloe Bethke loves animals and hopes to become an interior designer so she can design new habitats and enclosures for zoo inhabitants.
“I believe animals deserve as much respect as we do,” said Bethke, a vegetarian.
She has been described as a caring individual with a “sweet spirit” and a great example of someone who is compassionate.
“She is well-loved by her peers and the adults that know her because she is genuine, honest and loyal,” said Bonnie McKenney, director of teen renewal at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor. “She is an inspiration to her peers as she is a great example of someone who seeks to better herself.”
Bethke has struggled through adversity in her life and credits her Chapel Hill youth group, Soar, with helping her grow. She was young when her father disappeared, and she later coped with bullying at school. She said it was a painful experience, and she tried to find various ways to cope.
“It really broke down my self-esteem, and it was hard getting through the day,” Bethke said. “With the help of my church group, I’ve been able to accept and love myself for who I am, as well as gain confidence,” she said.
Bethke has been a member of Soar since she was in ninth grade, and she credits it with her success.
“It really anchors me, and I’ve grown a lot while there,” she said.
Bethke said she overcame her struggles by becoming involved, not only with the youth group but with other clubs and activities. She joined Key Club and took ballet and dance classes.
“It was hard to find something that was motivating physically,” she said. “Ballet was a good way to express myself.”
Bethke has challenged herself to work harder and accomplish more, and she’s distinguished herself through her compassion and integrity.
“Chloe sees who is not a part of the mainstream and intentionally includes them in activities and conversations,” Gig Harbor High School counselor Kim Lubin said. “She has even been asked to assist teachers with upset students when it seemed they were unreachable. Chloe, with her special gifts, just seemed to have the right words at the right moments to soothe and connect.”
Bethke said she’s been able to use her experience to raise awareness about bullying at school.
“It took a while, and I still struggle with self-esteem, but I feel I’ve overcome a lot,” she said.
Category: Overcoming Adversity
Education: Senior, Gig Harbor High School
Parent: Darby Bethke
Activities and achievements: Key Club, Chapel Hill’s Soar youth group, American Sign Language Club, DECA, dance/ballet classes, Humane Society volunteer, Camp Colman counselor, TideFest
Favorite teacher: Molly Pugh, AP English. “She really tries to understand the students. She goes beyond teaching in class and tries to make it fun and entertaining. She’s very nice and compassionate and keeps us motivated.”
Best thing about high school: The lunch ladies. “They are really nice and remember your name, and make you feel important. It’s a personal connection that makes your day.”