Remarkable grad: Toutle Lake senior learns to balance chronic illness and school | Education


EVERYTHING — Emma Lienhard’s high school career has been one of babysitting, creative writing accolades and learning how to manage chronic illness.

Lienhard was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes the summer before eighth grade, and since then the soon-to-be grad has learned to balance the highs and lows of her fluctuating sugar levels during busy school days, culminating in her graduation from Toutle Lake High School. this spring.

Lienhard plans to follow in her mother’s footsteps by studying to become a teacher and achieve her selfless goals.

Stand-out Grad is an annual series featuring local public high school students who overcame challenges large and small before graduation. The…

“I love helping people and I love children,” she said. “I want to do my best to make a difference.”


Lienhard was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after he started sleeping constantly, being constantly thirsty and losing about 60 pounds.

“My body was shutting down what wasn’t essential,” she said.

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His illness was recognized at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland. At the time she was fired, she could give herself insulin injections and check her blood sugar.

“Diabetes itself is quite complicated and difficult to manage,” she said.

When her blood sugar is low, Lienhard said she gets tired and needs to eat or drink to raise her sugar levels.

When her blood sugar is high, Lienhard says she is more vocal and stubborn. It is more difficult to remember school lessons; she is dizzy. Once, while driving home from school when the levels were high, she unknowingly found herself in the wrong lane. She had to stop and call her father, a paramedic, to pick her up.

Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disease that prevents the pancreas from making insulin, which controls the amount of sugar in the blood and gives you energy, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity and an inactive lifestyle. One in 10 Americans has type 2 diabetes, reports the CDC.

“So many people who care”

At Toutle Lake High School, where Lienhard transferred her freshman year, classmates are open-minded and eager to learn more about the disease, she said.

“I’m truly blessed where I go to school,” she said.

Diabetes did not stand in the way of Lienhard’s success. Her first year at Toutle, her classmates voted for Lienhard to win first place in a creative writing competition in which she wrote about a dog sewn from different canine body parts in a Frankenstein-esque horror tale .

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Ryan Taft was assigned the creative writing task.

“Emma is one of those rare students who reminded teachers why they wanted to teach in the first place,” he said. “I can honestly say that Emma has made my job a joy.”

Lienhard joined the cheerleaders in the fall, babysat in his spare time, and hauled and hauled hay in the summers to earn money. She said she overcame battles with anxiety and depression, conditions common in people with diabetes.

After graduation, Lienhard plans to attend Lower Columbia College for her prerequisite courses, then transfer to Washington State University in Vancouver to become an elementary school teacher. His mother, and career inspiration, works at an elementary school in Chehalis.

For people struggling today, Lienhard has some advice: don’t wait to ask for help.

“The longer you wait, the worse you can get,” she said. “There are so many people who care.”

Stand-out Grad is an annual series featuring local public high school students who overcame challenges large and small before graduation. The series will run until early June, before the schools’ graduation ceremonies.

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