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'Class Mom' cares for others

Sadie Kasiah was voted "Class Mom" by her fellow seniors at Ashland High School, but she's not surprised.

"People have been telling me I would get that since freshman year," she said.

For the last four years, Kasiah's been a member of AHS' leadership class, responsible for planning all the school's events. She hosted the Jack Frost Festival in February to raise $5,000 for Jack Dorr, a 10-year-old Ashland boy who died May 16 of spinal cancer. She also helped organize bone marrow drives at Southern Oregon University last year in honor of her best friend, Michael Bruhn, who died Aug. 29 after a long battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

As a member of the Students Against Destructive Decisions Club, Kasiah talks to freshman about the importance of staying drug- and alcohol-free in high school and why she made that decision for herself.

On Oct. 14, 2012, Kasiah's 20-year-old cousin, Sabrina "Bree" Kasiah, was returning from a party with friends. The driver, who was intoxicated, lost control of the Toyota 4Runner on a windy, mountain road in Grants Pass, and Bree was ejected from the vehicle as it rolled down an embankment. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kasiah said she and Bree were close and got together about once a month to "hang out with family, play games and eat food."

"From the start of my freshman year, I decided I didn't want to drink or do drugs, but after I saw what happened to (Bree), I decided that's also how I want to live my life," Kasiah said. "And now I feel obligated to make everyone else responsible for what they are doing."

Over the past four years, Kasiah also has participated in the Key Club, Global Citizens Corps, Sparrow Club and the National Honor Society. Three days a week, she reads and plays with Dari, a 6-year-old boy with Down syndrome, and for the last four years, she's played varsity water polo and basketball.

In November, Kasiah tore her ACL in her knee on the first day of basketball tryouts, but after only a month off, she was back on the court and started the rest of the season.

In the fall, Kasiah will join her sister at Oregon State University where she plans to major in sociology and minor in leadership.

Kasiah said she loves hanging out with kids with disabilities, but doesn't want to be a special education teacher.

"In reading with Dari, I realized I like doing the things he enjoys but not the things he's forced to do."

Instead, Kasiah's dream job is to help coordinate the Special Olympics, combining her love of helping others with her love of event-planning.

Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.

'Class Mom' cares for others