Chartiers Valley student's message heard, and seen, loud and clear

| Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, 10:39 p.m.

Heidi Schmidt took her message home, but the wind had other ideas.

With the help of other Students Against Destructive Decisions club members, the Chartiers Valley senior decked out the front of her family's Scott home on Oct. 17 with a pair of huge red ribbons and a banner reading “The Best Me is Drug Free.”

“They didn't last very long,” Schmidt said. “It was pretty windy the day we did them, so they fell down the next day.”

The purpose was served, though. Pictures of the enlightening home went out to the National Family Partnership as Chartiers Valley's entry into the group's nationwide Red Ribbon contest. Winners will receive an iPad and $1,000 for their school.

As for the wind? That could have been a gust left behind by Schmidt, one of the busiest students you're likely to meet. Her role as co-president of Chartiers Valley's SADD chapter is just the tip of an iceberg loaded with charitable endeavors, academic groups and sports.

“I always take on more than I can, but I always find a way,” Schmidt said.

The high-honor roll student's gaudy list of extracurriculars includes being president of the National Honor Society, as well as membership in the Spanish and Quilting clubs and Quiz Bowl team. She also was a four-year letterwinner on the Colts' soccer team.

Is that all?

“No,” Schmidt said last week between classes, “because right now I'm trying to organize tutoring for honors bio kids. There's like 24 of them, and I have a presentation after school.”

The presentation was about one of the highlights of her stacked calendar the past year — a trip to Costa Rica.

Through a World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh scholarship, Schmidt went to the Central American country with a group of students from across the nation. The month-long visit included a stay with a host family and trips to the rainforest and a chocolate farm.

“It was more about learning how the country functions, how the people live, compared to a tourist thing,” she said. “It was definitely an amazing experience and something that has encouraged me.”

There has already been plenty of encouragement, though. Just take a look at the success of Schmidt's nonprofit — yes, she's a business owner, too.

In the sixth grade, with some family and friends, Schmidt helped start Kids and a Cause. The group sells purses, blankets, jewelry and other products to raise money for UPMC's Hillman Cancer Center.

“So far, we've raised over $15,000 in the past six years,” she said.

The work also steered Schmidt toward a future she hopes is spent as a cancer researcher. Applying to such universities as Columbia, Case Western, Duke and North Carolina, she plans to study biomedical engineering next fall.

But, believe it or not, she might take a breather first.

“For this year, I want to try and have some free time,” Schmidt said, “but I'll probably just fill it with something else, just knowing me.”

Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-388-5816.

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