Sophomore Aspen Strauss tackles many tasks

Ally Monaghan

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For a typical teenage high schooler, there are so many things to try and juggle every day– from things like sports and homework to working jobs and even just finding time for yourself. For sophomore Aspen Strauss, she has found an easy way to handle her busy schedule.

One of the things Aspen has tackled is her love for horseback riding. However, this sport has not always interested her.

“When I was little, my mom kind of forced me to ride horses,” said Aspen, who has been riding for three years. “She grew up riding and wanted me to have the same experience. As a young child, I hated it.”

Although Aspen did decide to leave the barn for a while, she found a profound passion for riding when she saw her cousin in a horse show a few years back.

“I went to go support my cousin and watch her in a show,” said Aspen, who rides at Kathy Williams Quarter Horses. “I started to [gain an interest] and my cousin was definitely an inspiration to start riding.”

Since reinventing her passion for riding three years ago, Aspen has participated in many horse shows with her horse, Riley. She was apprehensive to start showing her horse at first and faced a few challenges before showing her horse for the first time ever.

“I was nervous, and Riley could completely tell I was nervous,” Aspen said. “Right before I was about to enter the show, go jump around, and show off my horse, we were practicing, and I got bucked off my horse. I landed on the ground really hard. I ended up having to get back up and try again, but once again, I fell off. Multiple times I fell off the jump, and I got bucked off my horse eight to ten times in about twenty minutes.”

Although she has faced that hardship, many shows have since gone very smoothly for Aspen. She has won multiple ribbons in a wide variety of shows.

Being able to show off her horse and riding skills is one of the most rewarding parts of horseback riding for Aspen. She works endless hours in the winter to ensure that her summer shows go as smoothly as possible.

“In the Summer Advance, we begin to jump higher,” Aspen said. “This year, we are beginning to jump two feet and three inches. It doesn’t sound very high, but when you are on a horse that could basically say “nope, I don’t feel like going over thata�� and decide not to, that’s scary. I wasn’t sure if Riley could jump that high, but with practice, we have found that he can do it. He really seems to like it.”

Riding horses takes much dedication and so does starting a business. At only sixteen-years-old, Aspen has started her own sticker company, Sticker.Go.

[Doing so many things] really takes the stress off of me. When I have other things to think about, it doesn’t make me so completely revolved around school and stuff. It’s more calming.”

— Aspen Strauss

“I don’t really have a reason for wanting to start this business,” Aspen said. “I thought it would be fun to have people be able to express themselves with stickers. As a freshman, I covered my folders with stickers, and I thought it was cool. So, why not make them and try to sell them at a cheaper price than other places?”

Beginning her sticker-creating journey was an easy choice for Aspen. In her free time, she enjoys drawing and creating things and decided to take her passion to another level. Since beginning the business late last year, she has already created a few stickers such as cacti, “chem is cry,” a few animals, and her own artwork: two painted coy fish.

“Right now, I really just want my sticker business to start becoming more public,” Aspen said. “But, it’s just more of a fun hobby that I would like to start up.”

Aspen had to go through a long process to get her stickers on the market. First, she had to come up with ideas for the stickers and create the artwork. Then, she had to submit them to a different website to be produced. Lastly, after ordering a mass amount of the stickers, she began to sell them throughout the school and began to promote her sales online.

By starting a business at sixteen, Aspen shows not only dedication but creativity as well. These qualities shine through not only in one aspect of her life, but many– especially in her musical life.

Aspen is a part of Women’s Chorus at FHC and has been participating in choirs throughout her whole life. Going to school in East Grand Rapids, she always took their choir courses, and now at FHC, she plans to participate throughout her high school career.

“I love being in a choir that works together and makes beautiful music,” Aspen said. “When we are all in sync and finally master [a piece] that we have been taking weeks to work on, it is really satisfying to hear.”

Particularly, Aspen enjoyed last year’s Singsational, a concert put on with a theme by all choirs at FHC. Within Singsational, members of the choir are able to participate individually with solos and small group songs.

“At last year’s Singsational, my friend Taylor Koetsier and I sang “The Climb” in front of a huge group of people,” Aspen said. “It was really scary, but it was awesome.”

For Aspen, choir is not only rewarding but a great bonding experience with the other members of Women’s Chorus and her choir director, Sean Ivory.

Participating in so many things at such a young age is not only fulfilling but hard work. No matter what, Aspen has always made her busy life something to be proud of.

“[Doing so many things] really takes the stress off of me,” Aspen said. “When I have other things to think about, it doesn’t make me so revolved around school and stuff. I like that. It’s more calming.”