Grace Ohanesian’s love for nature and art stems from her roots at Goodwillie


Senior Grace Ohanesian has always had a love for beautiful things.

Birds, watercolor pallets, breathtaking landscapes, and all things nature are what she continually finds peace in, she says. This began when her family moved from Jacksonville, Florida to Michigan in fourth grade. She didn’t know a lot of people in the Ada area, so she made the decision to attend Goodwillie Environmental School, a unique outdoors-education school for fifth and sixth graders. 

“Finding friends after moving for the first time was really really hard,” Grace said, “So I [had] heard about this opportunity to go to this new middle school where everyone would be new to each other. I thought that I would really enjoy it, so I tried it out and happened to get in.”

There, she says the work was less centered upon traditional classroom settings, and instead, she found herself immersed in hikes and daily adventures, which are a direct reflection of the “outdoorsy” reputation that Goodwillie holds. For Grace, the natural component of the school was important, especially, she says, with climate change being such a prevalent issue in today’s society. 

Another one of the school’s values was art, and this is where Grace began to thrive. With the support of beloved Goodwillie teacher Mr. Woody, she started to develop confidence and love for her artwork. 

“[Woody] was always really supportive of me,” Grace said. “[He] was always helping me and [being] really nice. There, I was kind of quiet, and I didn’t really fit in with anyone, but my artwork stood out to everyone. It was something [that] I was really proud of at the time.”

Now, long after her years as a Goodwillie student, Grace still has many positive things to say about current FHC art teacher Tyler Fewell. She says that, in the past year since he began teaching, there has been an upward trend in the number of students taking art classes. After attempting to secure a spot in an art class this semester and realizing that there was no room, she noticed how full Fewell’s were. 

“Fewell is a really great teacher,” Grace said, “I feel like he tries to form good relationships with the students, and he’s really nice and encouraging when it comes to our pieces.”

In regards to art classes, though, Grace is enrolled in a photography class this year but chose not to take the infamous AP Art class in order to allow her practice to remain a hobby instead of turning into stressful deadlines. 

“I really wanted to do [AP Art],” Grace said, “but I’m not very good with deadlines. I like to do artwork when I’m inspired and when I want to, and [I don’t want to] force myself to do a lot of work. I want to be able to enjoy [art] and not dread it; I don’t want to get sick of it.”

Some of Grace’s favorite places to be when she chooses to work on her pieces when she’s inspired are outside because that is where she feels “most inspired” and “at peace.” In continuation of her love for all things peaceful and beautiful but her unwillingness to squash hobbies into work, Grace hopes to attend Northern Michigan University to study psychology and, in the future, become a therapist. 

“I think I’m a good listener,” Grace said, “and I think it would be really cool to know that I’m making people’s lives a little bit better. I can’t explain it; it just makes me happy.”

Part of her inspiration for this as well as in other aspects of life such as her art and overall mental thought process stems from her father, who she says suffered a lot of hardships before even entering high school. Knowing this, she says, helps her cope with her problems or worries in everyday life, and she categorizes him as one of the most impactful people in her life. 

“Hearing how [my dad] got through it all and how he’s still here and [is] successful today [inspires me],” Grace said. “It just makes me think if anything goes wrong in my life, I will be okay; I can get through it like [he did].”