A show of grit at Paradise Creek

Geoff Crimmins/Daily NewsParadise Creek Regional High School senior Miranda Mings enjoys drawing as a hobby. Mings plans to attend the University of Idaho and major in sociology.

Paradise Creek Regional High School principal Brian Smith said one of the most remarkable things about 18-year-old senior student Miranda Mings is her perseverance.

Mings, like many students her age, is preparing to graduate and go to college. How she got to this point, however, is unlike most of her peers.

During her junior year of high school in 2018, Mings’ mother and sister were involved in a car wreck near Moscow. Mings’ mother had to be flown to Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene. She is still recovering from her injuries.

Making matters worse, they had just left Mings’ father in police custody the day of the accident. He was heading to Latah County Jail.

Left without any parents in the house, Mings and her sister were taken in by a Moscow foster family.

Mings said she did not know what to expect from being a foster child, but she found a support system in her new family that helped her through a difficult time in her life. She said the foster family made sure she did not have to grow up too fast.

“I was able to actually be a kid,” she said.

She also found a support system at Paradise Creek.

Because she had missed the first quarter of her junior year, she enrolled at the alternative school to make up her schoolwork.

Mings called her teachers and fellow students a “very tight-knit” group. The small class allowed her classmates to get to know each other “on a deeper level” than a typical high school class, she said. It is not uncommon for them to send texts to each other just to make sure their classmates are OK, she said.

Mings said the teachers know that students face adversity and are understanding if someone is having a bad day.

“You don’t have to be perfect,” she said.

Smith said teachers have regular meetings with students called “family meetings” and students can call staff anytime for academic and emotional support.

Mings did not just get back on track to finish high school on time, she finished her coursework early, she said.

In fact, she finished a week before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools and forced students to learn from home.

Miranda did this while juggling work with her school responsibilities. At McDonald’s, she worked her way up to manager, which meant having to work long hours after the school day ended. Sometimes she worked at the restaurant from 7 p.m.-3 a.m. and had to get up in time the next morning to go to class.

She said it was difficult, but she found work fulfilling.

“Work makes me super happy,” she said.

Now, she has moved out of her foster home into her own apartment. Mings will attend the University of Idaho this fall where she plans to study sociology. She wants to become a licensed counselor or psychiatrist. She is fascinated by what makes people who they are and she wants to be in a position to help them.

“I want to be there for someone to talk to,” she said.

Smith said Mings has approached every obstacle in her path with a positive attitude. He said she almost always tries to find the good in any situation.

“It’s really inspiring to watch,” he said.

He said that feeling is shared by his coworkers.

“The entire staff is incredibly proud of Miranda and how she’s shown herself to be an independent thinker,” he said.

Paradise Creek’s graduation ceremony took place Wednesday at the 1912 Center in Moscow.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.

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