Brooke is a senior at Kings High School who has her eyes set on heading south next year. I met her through Young Life and quickly noticed that she is genuine and sincere, and that her friends value her in their lives. She’s a cheerleader in more than one sense of the word. Yes, she stands on the sidelines shouting for the Knights (not to mention, she’s the cheer #captain). But, she’s also a friend who advocates for the people and things she loves. She’s an encourager and a listener; and when she believes in something, she shares about it with grace and excitement.

“I put so much of my worth into doing well in school. My dad passed away when I was 10 and I do a lot of things to try to make him proud. School is absolutely one of those things. I’ve been working hard lately to try and fix my eyes on Jesus rather than my own doomed attempt of being perfect at everything I do. I want to care more about relationships with the people around me rather than striving to be perfect.”

Brooke’s favorite quote is “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” -Dumbledore. I’ve seen her live this out. She is steady in joy and I think it’s because she remembers to look for it.

“I want to be remembered as the person anyone could come to when they needed a smile or to be encouraged. I want to be known as the girl who led someone to Jesus and as a person who tried her best to be a light at Kings High School.”

At the very end of her session, the sky turned into a cloudy mix of purples and yellows and the wind picked up. I took a couple shots of her windblown hair because there has always been something about those windy photos that I love. I think they remind me that things aren’t mine to control. And when I actually embrace that belief by giving up control, it’s easy to spot beauty in places I would have otherwise missed.

Brooke, you’re the calm before the storm (and through it). You have a quiet confidence and your presence feels like a safe place in the room. Whether it’s because you’re a determined student, talented performer, or selfless friend, I know your dad is beaming with pride at what a beautiful daughter you are. And even on ‘off’ days when you could have seemingly done better or been kinder, I hope you never forget that you’re incredibly important and lavishly loved. Keep cheering for the things you believe in, but don’t forget to be your own cheerleader, too.