He’s ‘average’ — and more

Mountlake Terrace senior shares view from the middle of the pack


Herald Writer

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — The observations Chris Jensen offers up to the nation each month are not filled with insights about how to get admitted into Harvard.

A young woman from Kansas wrote those columns last year.

His, instead, provide the perspective of a student in the middle of the pack during his final year of high school in middle-class America. They are meant to inform rather than impress.

Jensen, a Mountlake Terrace senior, is writing the column for ACT Inc., the company behind the college entrance exam. His conversational diaries are being published in student magazines nationwide and on the company’s Web site, www.act.org.

Jensen is one of 2.9 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools this spring. He sees himself as another face in the crowd.

"I’m just an average guy living an average life," he wrote in his introductory column. "I wake up every morning, shower and head off to my second home — Mountlake Terrace High School."

That voice of "the average guy" was part of his allure to the testing company.

"We wanted someone who students can relate to," said ACT’s Kristin Crouse, who knew the Jensen family when they lived in Iowa years ago.

Jensen is the good son, the helpful brother, the football player, the student who prefers calculus to English and the guy with the part-time job at a bowling alley.

Like thousands of high school seniors, he is trying to figure out where he will go to school next fall. He’s looking for an in-state college that is the right fit for him, preferably one with a good teacher-training program, small professor-to-student ratios and an intramural bowling league.

At times, he said, his house feels like "college central" with all the brochures, financial aid forms, drafts of his resume and scholarship paperwork.

"The pressure is starting to get to me," Chris wrote in October. "I’m dealing with homework, sports, my job and — oh yeah — finding a college. I don’t have much time for anything else."

Well, he does have time for his mom’s visits to his room.

"She will just come in, give me a hug or a kiss on the cheek, and I’ll say, ‘What are you doing?" and she will say, ‘I’m not going to be able to do this next year.’ "

Chris realizes separation will be a two-way street. "I’m not going to be able to say, ‘Mom, what’s for dinner?’ "

His mother, Deb, is also writing regular columns for ACT from a parent’s point of view.

"We’ve raised him to take flight and pursue his own dreams," she wrote in a fall column. "And I certainly am not one of the mothers who wants her son to always be her little boy! OK, well, maybe I’m not totally ready to let go of the apron strings."

Even so, when her son is gone, "I just think I am going to be crying buckets of tears," she said.

What is sometimes lost in the crush of shining resumes, stellar grade point averages and top-notch college entrance exam scores is the essence of the applicant.

Jensen may describe himself as an average guy, but his politeness and respect for others is far above the high school norm, said Steve Gering, a Mountlake Terrace assistant principal.

Chris Jensen has a soft spot in his heart for special-needs children and has shared that in his monthly column. His younger sister, Whitney, has Joubert syndrome, a rare genetic condition characterized by neurological involvement, developmental delay, low muscle tone, and eye, liver and kidney problems.

Whitney, a student at College Place Middle School in Lynnwood, has achieved far more academically, physically and socially than many experts once predicted.

When she was 4, it was Chris who coaxed her into taking her first steps and called Mom and Dad to see for themselves. As she grew older, her brother helped with her athletic teams and recreational endeavors, such as bowling and skiing, which catered to children with disabilities.

Teaching Whitney has taught Chris that he wants to make a career out of working with young people.

"She kind of opened the door to me to become a teacher," he said. "I have seen her progress and have seen her defy what all the doctors said. You can’t really express it, but it’s a good, good feeling."

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

An emergency overdose kit with naloxone located next to an emergency defibrillator at Mountain View student housing at Everett Community College on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
To combat fentanyl, Snohomish County trickles out cash to recovery groups

The latest dispersal, $77,800 in total, is a wafer-thin slice of the state’s $1.1 billion in opioid lawsuit settlements.

Deputy prosecutors Bob Langbehn and Melissa Samp speak during the new trial of Jamel Alexander on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Second trial begins for man accused of stomping Everett woman to death

In 2021, a jury found Jamel Alexander guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Shawna Brune. An appellate court overturned his conviction.

New Jersey company acquires Lynnwood Land Rover dealership

Land Rover Seattle, now Land Rover Lynnwood, has been purchased by Holman, a 100-year-old company.

Dave Calhoun, center, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Jan. 24. (Samuel Corum / Bloomberg)
Boeing fired lobbying firm that helped it navigate 737 Max crashes

Amid congressional hearings on Boeing’s “broken safety culture,” the company has severed ties with one of D.C.’s most powerful firms.

Authorities found King County woman Jane Tang who was missing since March 2 near Heather Lake. (Family photo)
Body of missing woman recovered near Heather Lake

Jane Tang, 61, told family she was going to a state park last month. Search teams found her body weeks later.

Deborah Wade (photo provided by Everett Public Schools)
‘We are heartbroken’: Everett teacher died after driving off Tulalip road

Deborah Wade “saw the world and found beauty in people,” according to her obituary. She was 56.

Snohomish City Hall on Friday, April 12, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish may sell off old City Hall, water treatment plant, more

That’s because, as soon as 2027, Snohomish City Hall and the police and public works departments could move to a brand-new campus.

Lewis the cat weaves his way through a row of participants during Kitten Yoga at the Everett Animal Shelter on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Downward cat? At kitten yoga in Everett, it’s all paw-sitive vibes

It wasn’t a stretch for furry felines to distract participants. Some cats left with new families — including a reporter.

FILE - In this Friday, March 31, 2017, file photo, Boeing employees walk the new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner down towards the delivery ramp area at the company's facility in South Carolina after conducting its first test flight at Charleston International Airport in North Charleston, S.C. Federal safety officials aren't ready to give back authority for approving new planes to Boeing when it comes to the large 787 jet, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. The plane has been plagued by production flaws for more than a year.(AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)
Boeing pushes back on Everett whistleblower’s allegations

Two Boeing engineering executives on Monday described in detail how panels are fitted together, particularly on the 787 Dreamliner.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.