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Dreams made of law and lavender

Before Sequim High School senior Melissa Karapostoles leaves to join the Ivy League, she has a few things to finish.

With a resumé that reads like someone two to three times her age, Karapostoles, 18, is starting the school year through Peninsula College's Running Start program.

She graduates this spring with a high school diploma and associate's degree in hand.

Both her brothers graduated the same way.

"I love it," Karapostoles said about college life.

She said she felt the high school social setting was hard to adjust to but since joining Running Start, a new comfort surrounds her.

"I like the atmosphere of being around people with different life experiences and a lot more diversity."

When she transfers from Peninsula College, her top choice is Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but Washington State University, Willamette University in Oregon and University of Puget Sound are her backups.

A member of the National Honor Society, Karapostoles' near perfect grade-point average would be just that if not for calculus, she said. She took it as a junior, two years before most college students.

"When I took calculus, it was like hitting a brick wall."

She has been selected for the college's student council along with another high schooler. Her title, outreach director, has her partnering college students with citizens to work cooperatively in the Port Angeles and surrounding areas.

Entering college opened her horizons to stage production, too.

She served as stage manager for the student-directed one-act plays last year and keeps the same role this winter for "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."



Add the dance, court

Nearly four years removed from Sequim Middle School, Karapostoles remains active as a volunteer there.

At the school's winter wish assembly last year, each student made a wish.

One boy asked for a tutor in math, so Karapostoles was connected to him.

"He was struggling in the basics."

A few months passed and her tutoring helped.

"His scores rose above district average," she said. "I was really happy with how things turned out and that's why I'm doing it again this year."

Karapostoles has learned to mix things up for middle schoolers, too, at least on the dance floor.

She and her friend Nicole Masangkay have served as volunteer disc jockeys for the school's dances.

"To bring a D.J. in from Seattle is so expensive."

The two take requests and pick the most popular songs.

Some songs are so popular that they are requested multiple times as non-dance activities also take place and some students miss a song.

She worked all three dances last year and intends to do the same this year beginning with the school's Harvest Festival.

Last summer, she was a princess for the 2008 Irrigation Festival court.

As the youngest sibling with two older brothers, Karapostoles said she grew up a tomboy.

"Putting on a dress was a little weird, but fun."

Prior to the festival, she spent summers working at Purple Haze Lavender and The Oak Table Cafe, where she still works today.

"I learned a lot about lavender. It's not just 'lavender' but I learned all the types."



Political teen

Politics is Karapostoles' career goal. Her start came three years ago as a page for State Rep. Kevin Van De Wege.

The following year, Van De Wege nominated her for the Legislative Youth Advisory Council, a new youth outreach group formed as a voice for Washington students.

She and 22 other students met six times that year in Olympia.

"We'd discuss bills beneficial to youth and meet with legislators," she said.

"We haven't had any legislation successfully go through yet, but someday."

One topic she tackled was high school dropout prevention using the Build Bridges Program.

Karapostoles plans to study law in college and focus on international public law.

Her goal is to live in The Netherlands, where the International Court of Justice presides, and become a law clerk.



Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.



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