Two years ago, Louisa County was the epicenter of Virginia’s strongest earthquake since the 1700s. The earthquake literally shook the foundation of the county’s high school, requiring it to be demolished and rebuilt.
After two weeks out of school, high school students alternated days using the local middle school with middle schoolers. High schoolers went to school three days a week and middle schoolers used the building the other two days during the week.
“(The earthquake) was scary,” said senior ShaQuan Houchens. “We had just switched (classes) and we were about to start our test we had to take … and the next thing you know the lights start shaking and things start falling … and it was just a mess.”
Despite the school’s setbacks, Houchens has managed to flourish, much like her school that’s currently under construction.
The school managed to keep high standardized test scores through the year, keeping the same accreditation level as the year before.
Houchens is pursuing her certified nursing assistant’s certification through her school, which not only allows her to attend two required classes, but brings her closer to her goal of one day working in a pediatrics unit.
“I love babies, that’s one thing that I really want to work with,” Houchens said. “The sick ones, I really want to help them because they didn’t ask to be the way that they are so I would love to help them get back to their perfect health.”
She wants to pursue her nursing degree at George Mason University but is also considering a community college, like J. Sargeant Reynolds to adjust to college life more slowly.
“It would save me more money and then I could do what I wanted … instead of moving out now and worrying about a whole bunch of expenses,” she said.
In addition to her required nursing certification, Houchens participates in Math Center, where she volunteers to help other students with their math skills.
“(Math Center) is an environment where ShaQuan was required to constantly demonstrate maturity, intelligence, leadership, patience and care,” said Houchens’ math teacher, Will Tragert in a recommendation letter. “She has consistently met those challenges and truly impressed me… .”
Houchens also performs community service with other school groups, like the Future Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). She began working with the group in middle school, when a teacher required her to join the group. She continued with the group into high school.
With the group, she has participated in activities like food drives and bingo nights. Currently, Houchens’ FCCLA chapter is raising money and drafting plans to go to the state conference in Virginia Beach. Ultimately, they hope to get to the national conference, in Nashville, Tenn.
In addition to her after-school activities and classroom leadership, Houchens finds time to work two to three days a week at Martin’s grocery store.
I can truly say that I’ve never met someone so driven both in and out of the classroom as ShaQuan,” Tragert said. “It seems that whatever she chooses to do, she does it well and gives her all.”