When Calyssa Lawyer moves to a new town and enrolls in a new school, she does one thing that she must to get used to her new surroundings: She makes the best of it.
As the daughter of a colonel in the Army stationed at Fort Gordon, Calyssa has moved more than most of her classmates, having lived in eight U.S. cities and in Heidelberg, Germany.
"It was a great cultural experience," said the 15-year-old of her years in Germany. "I was friends with two German girls who lived across the street, and they taught me German and I taught them English."
When she's asked how she adjusts to a new town and new school every few years, Calyssa quickly replies that she's accustomed to the changes.
"I'm so used to it," she said. "I make new friends. I can say that I have a lot of friends and they live all across the country."
The daughter of Col. Calvin and Rosalind Lawyer, of Fort Gordon, doesn't let a new school or new town deter her from doing what she enjoys, namely volunteering with the Red Cross and, most recently, running track.
Her volunteer work at Fort Gordon includes working with the American Red Cross at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center by visiting patients and assisting with paperwork.
"I just feel like it's a sense of giving back," said Calyssa, a sophomore at Augusta Christian Schools who has been a Red Cross volunteer since she was in the third grade. "I just feel like God has blessed my parents with a stable financial system and this is a way of giving back."
Calyssa also has found great rewards in running track with the Augusta Christian Lions.
This summer she trained with Nino Fennoy, the head track coach at East St. Louis Senior High in East St. Louis, Ill.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee's high school track coach, Kim Jennings, a former hurdler at Tennessee State University, was her hurdle coach.
The high point was being able to meet Joyner-Kersee, an experience that was nothing short of amazing, she said.
"She is an awesome lady," said Calyssa, who qualified for the Junior Olympics this summer in Baltimore and placed first in the Region 9 immediate girls high jump. "She said my standings were pretty good considering that I haven't been doing track that long."
Calyssa boasts of holding the state title in relay this year, having won the first leg of the relay.
She credits her father, who also ran track, with giving her inspiration to run.
Calyssa, who wants to go to Tennessee State University and run for their track team after graduation from high school, also credits her coaches for giving her the opportunity to show what she's made of.
"I just want to thank coach Bryan Wilson, who was my first track coach at Augusta Christian," she said. Wilson is now at Curtis Baptist School in Augusta. "And, coach Keith Walton taught me how to high jump. It portrays the character of the school that they were willing to take a chance with me."
Calyssa said she chose to attend Augusta Christian Schools because she knew when she walked through the doors that she was meant to be there.
"I went to a couple of other schools and it didn't feel right," she said. "But as soon as I walked in the doors of Augusta Christian, I kid you not, I felt comfortable. And, the experience has been great."
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