ASB president shows commitment to MPHS classmates

MARYSVILLE — Alisha Purdom is the student body president at Marysville Pilchuck High School. The 18-year-old spent her summer making 1,550 friendship bracelets to welcome each student back to class after they watched their school become national news last fall when a freshman shot five classmates, killing four of the teens, before turning the gun on himself.

Educators say Purdom’s bracelet project is just one example of her commitment to helping others.

Question: How has the school changed since the shooting?

Answer: It was definitely hard at first. No one knew what to do. We were all trying to help each other heal but we needed to heal ourselves. The week after it happened everyone pushed all judgement aside and we all wanted to be together. Now, we’re all bonded because we’ve been through this together. We understand each other on another level and that calls for a lot of empathy.

Q: What made you want to do the bracelet project?

A: I’m definitely my toughest critic. So when I was elected student body president, I wanted to prove I was dedicated to my school. I wanted to do something that was a sacrifice and dedicate my time to it.

Q: How’d you manage to make 1,550 bracelets?

A: The first day, I made 11. I was like alright, this is going to take forever. I mapped it out and figured I’d need to make at least 12 a day all summer. But then a few friends and their families started helping and it just grew from there. I ended having more than 40 people help. It was my project but it became much bigger than that. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all ends up.

Q: I understand you also wrote a blog about your project?

A: In January, I’d been noticing tension at school. People weren’t really talking about what happened so I wrote a blog about what I was seeing. And it blew up. Tons of people read it. So after we finished the bracelet project, I wrote another blog to explain why I did it and posted pictures of all the people who helped. I kept track in a journal so I could thank everyone.

Q: What was the message you hoped to send to fellow students?

A: I wanted it to be something everybody could have in common. They could look down and see somebody cared. They matter and are a part of the school. I wanted to remind everyone that we’re getting stronger and that one day doesn’t define us.

Q: What else are you interested in?

A: I basically live at the school because I love people. I’m captain of the volleyball team and we’re hoping to go to state again this year. I also enjoy writing. I play guitar and sing a bit so I like to write music, too.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: I’m considering Oregon State University in Corvallis but I’m not sure where I’ll go or what I’ll study yet. I just know I want to help people. I want to get really involved with a new community and find my calling.

Q: Where do you think your desire to help others comes from?

A: My parents Connie and Wayne Purdom were good about teaching us to serve others. It’s strong in my roots and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to apply my gifts to that.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @AmyNileReports

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