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Glacier High School senior thrives on helping others

Daily Inter Lake | May 31, 2023 12:00 AM

Maggie Frisbee is a natural at connecting with people.

Sitting in the foyer of Glacier High School, the senior often stops mid-conversation to say hello or smile at those who pass by.

Frisbee served as a student aid for English teacher Carrie Power, who says she’s exceptional because of how much joy she brings into a room.

“She is always willing to help others and looks for any way that she can help,” Power said. “Maggie is an ever joyful presence in the halls of Glacier High School, everyone knows Maggie's name, she is a friend to everyone she meets.”

Her parents Bob and Christine describe her as “outgoing” and “gregarious.”

“The isolation of Covid was hard for her,” Bob said. “This year she’s so much happier. She’s making up for that lost time.”

Adopted from an orphanage in China at the age of 7, she persevered through the challenge of learning English. Teachers say she’s not afraid to ask questions to make sure she understands the task before her or to admit when she doesn’t understand so she can complete the tasks to the best of her ability.

She had never seen television but later told her parents that she learned by watching the people around her. They watched her on video chat in the orphanage solving a Rubik’s Cube, and then struggle to learn English once she arrived in the U.S.

“She had so much to learn — how to get along in life,” Christine said.

In China, Frisbee had rickets and suffered breaks to both her femurs, and both of her ankles were broken. While she was well-taken care of she spent much of her time in the hospital and because of a misdiagnosis of brittle bone disease wasn’t allowed to play.

Her parents say that with every challenge their daughter has faced physically and learning about the world, and how afraid she must have been as a young child, they are amazed at the person she has grown into today.

“She’s my role model for resilience and kindness,” Christine said. “We’re so proud of Maggie.”

Now on the precipice of graduating with the Class of 2023, Frisbee has set her goal of one day becoming a traveling nurse. She’s set to attend Flathead Valley Community College to become a nursing assistant and has secured a job working at Immanuel Lutheran Communities.

“I love helping people,” Frisbee said. “I tend to help people without even being asked.”

Her mom says Frisbee made friends with all of the hospital staff when she was in the orphanage in China.

“I want to travel around and help people,” Frisbee said. “I want to go to a place like Africa where they don’t have enough nurses and help people. I want to help as many children as I can.”

AFTER YEARS of not being allowed to play in the orphanage, when doctors in the United States cleared her, she took full advantage of her new freedom.

For several years, she played a list of sports until about 18 months ago when she twisted her leg, fracturing it for the fourth time. That’s when doctors said she could no longer play sports for fear of another injury.

She stayed close to sports by serving as a manager for the girls basketball, flag football and the track and field team working behind the scenes.

“I love learning about new sports, but I also like making new friends,” Frisbee said. “I love to hang out with people.”

Always ready to help with a smile is how Mark Kessler, the head girls flag football coach, describes Frisbee. She went beyond helping set up equipment and assistance for the team, serving as a DJ for practice and playing music that would get the team working harder and enjoying practice.

“While many people could come and be able to provide assistance in getting equipment, or helping with errands; Maggie brought an incredible personality that only she possessed,” he said. “We were very lucky to have Maggie involved in our program. She will be missed, but we find comfort in knowing she will accomplish great things in her next chapter.”

Beyond sports, Frisbee is a member of the school’s National Honors Society where she volunteers for as many hours as she possibly can, even going over the hours required to volunteer.

It was her older siblings that inspired Frisbee to start playing music in the fifth grade. This year she participated in three band classes at Glacier High, learning to play the tuba and clarinet after already playing the euphonium.

“Music helps me calm down,” Frisbee said. “With all the things going on around me.”

She considers band to be one of her fun classes and says she likes to volunteer to keep busy so she’s always moving.

David Barr, director of the bands at Glacier, said when schools shut down during the pandemic she put in many hours of one-on-one online time to work on her music theory and get better at reading music.

“Maggie has always loved to play her instrument in the band,” he said. “She is always smiling, happy, and ready to improve.”

The tuba she plays is larger than her physically and learning the clarinet was tough for her, but she made improvements, Barr says while adding that she is one of his favorite students.

“Maggie has, through her participation, shown the rest of the band how to persevere,” Barr said. “When she was recovering from her broken leg, she continued to show up for rehearsals and never complained when the pain was still unbearable. She came to all of the marching band events.”

Glacier High School holds its commencement ceremony on Friday, June 2 at 10 a.m. in the gym. About 290 students are expected to graduate. The school is located at 375 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell.

Features Editor Heidi Desch may be reached at 758-4421 or hdesch@dailyinterlake.com.