When Pastor Jeff Parish was called to be the Senior Pastor at Indian Rocks in 2007, he and his wife, Martha, had four school aged children. Upon completion of the move from Tampa, they enrolled their children in IRCS. Their second child, Dorothy was entering 8th grade at the time.
When I asked Dorothy how her 5 years at Indian Rocks prepared her for college, her answer was a lot more extensive than I anticipated. With this in mind and the detail she included, I feel that I need to directly quote her response so you can read it in her own words.
“IRCS prepared me for college in countless ways! But a few of them stand out in my mind:
a.) By challenging me: IRC offers many courses that are designed with college prep in mind. Several of my AP and junior/senior level courses were taught with an emphasis on outside-of-class work and being prepared for class. Having to learn time management and study skills was difficult at the time but was WELL worth it when I got into my college curriculum.
b.) By growing me: The time management I learned at IRC was not only necessary for academics but also for extra-curricular activities, of which Indian Rocks offers so many. I had the privilege of being involved in several of them, including cross country, track, National Honor Society, choir, and theater. The academics at IRC are excellent, but the extra offerings gave me the chance to grow, be well-rounded in knowledge and experiences, and learn to balance everything on my plate.
c.) By encouraging me: The teachers at Indian Rocks are what make it a unique learning environment. By the end of my senior year, I considered many of them my friends. If ever I was feeling discouraged about grades, the future, or interactions with my peers, I always felt I could go to a teacher and get help. I had such a positive experience with the teachers at Indian Rocks that I carried the habit of getting to know my instructors into college.”
And that was just the academic part, but IRCS is so much more than that. An education at IRCS also has a very strong spiritual component. Dorothy had the opportunity to go on four different mission trips during her time at Indian Rocks. She went to Arizona/Los Angeles, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Tuscaloosa, AL. Dorothy stressed that each of these trips had a profound impact on her relationship with the Lord and opened her eyes to the world He has made. She made new friendships on each trip and learned lessons that she says are still impacting her daily life.
Another one of the spiritual building blocks at IRCS are the chapels. Dorothy said, “Some of my sweetest memories came from going to chapel every Thursday morning. Many students would grumble and complain about chapel, but I sincerely loved it and want the faculty at Indian Rocks to know that. Having a weekly time set aside to hear from God’s word and sing praises to Him was just the best. I often cried in worship time as I wrestled with teenage emotions and having faith in high school. I didn’t always love the speaker and was not always fully engaged, but being given the opportunity every week to hear a new word from God had a huge impact on my life.”
Another of Dorothy’s favorite memories was her participation in our Fine Arts department’s musical each year. “Being in musicals at Indian Rocks was a highlight for me and one of my favorite high school memories was getting cast as Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” my senior year. I remember feeling so excited and honored. I had been in all of the musicals I could leading up to that point and getting cast in a lead role my last year was really special. I can’t even begin to describe how fun the comradery is amongst a cast at Indian Rocks. Rehearsing and performing together was a blast and inspired me to be involved in musicals in college.” Dorothy was able to act in college level productions of Les Misarble and Into The Woods.
When asked if there was a particular teacher that impacted her life, Dorothy responded, “This question is difficult to answer as well because ALL of the teachers had an impact on me and taught me so many things! Mr. Weeman is the reason I know how to type quickly. Mrs. Pacecca taught me about geometry and how to write proofs. Mrs. Springman taught me stoichiometry and the makeup of a cell. Mrs. Busjahn taught me about Edgar Allen Poe. Coach Buchanan taught me about Judges and Psalm 139. Mr. Futoran taught me about physics. The Haywards taught me how to study. Mrs. Renshaw taught me about Philippians 2 and having the attitude of Christ. I could go on and on! But perhaps one teacher who has a special place in my heart is Mrs. Jane Duquette. Mrs. Duquette taught 3 sections of high school Spanish and so I had her as a teacher for three years in a row. Put simply, she was Jesus in a classroom. Everything she did exemplified Christ and pointed students towards Him if they wanted to know. She took prayer requests every week. She prayed faithfully for a family friend who was pregnant when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and rejoiced with me when my friend had a healthy baby and was declared cancer free (and she still is to this day). She led my mission trip to Guatemala and inspired me with her love for people. She has a gentle, humble spirit that I long to have! Her constant presence and encouragement left an impact on my life and I am eternally grateful.”
Dorothy just graduated from medical school and is now a Physician Assistant. I know this because my grandson, Jack, was recently seen by her. Now that she is finished with her rotations and internships she is working in cardiology, right here in Clearwater. She is very excited to see how the Lord is going to use her in the medical field. And so are we! We are proud of you and congratulate you on finishing this demanding course of study.