By STEVE HART
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Jared Rippey, a 17-year-old senior at Windsor High School, comes across as a happy, well-adjusted, high-achieving teen.
He has a 4.0 grade point average, volunteers with the Red Cross and performs as principal percussionist with the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Youth Orchestra.
But Jared has had to overcome a problem that could have easily held him back. From elementary school to his sophomore year in high school, he was a victim of relentless bullying.
“It was a really hard time for me,” he said. “It got so bad that I was home-schooled for a year.”
Jared returned to school and found ways to cope.
“I spent a lot of time planning out my future, my dreams and my goals,” he said. “It really helped me stay focused.”
In seventh grade, he began volunteering with the American Red Cross in Santa Rosa. He used his skills in photography and graphic design to create fliers and other advertising for the nonprofit.
Jared helped coordinate the Red Cross Young Filmmakers Showcase, which included workshops and young artists’ short films on community themes.
He also was an assistant instructor with the Red Cross’ CPR Saturdays, which trained hundreds of people in the life-saving technique.
Red Cross officials were surprised when Jared first approached them.
“They were a little reluctant to let a seventh-grader volunteer,” he said.
But Jared quickly proved himself, said Ellen Maremont Silver, the nonprofit’s marketing and communications director.
“Jared’s really hard-working, smart and a pleasure to work with,” she said. “He’s versatile, flexible and everyone likes him.”
Volunteering at the Red Cross helped him find direction, Jared said.
“It’s an amazing organization,” he said. “Being a volunteer really made me see how much I love helping people.”
In 2007, Jared received the Red Cross chapter’s Sally Parks Award. Named for a retired volunteer director, it honors a person who exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism, Silver said.
Jared performs on timpani with the youth orchestra and plays a variety of instruments for fun, including piano, guitar, mandolin, ukulele and accordion.
“I like classical music, but what I listen to on my iPad is a lot of electronic music,” he said.
Photography is another pastime. “It’s always been my passion — that and music,” he said.
Jared lives in Santa Rosa with his mom, Susan, and dad, Ron. He has three older siblings — Travis, Mitchell and Shaunna.
He hasn’t had a problem with bullying since he transferred to Windsor High two years ago.
“Windsor was a great transfer for me,” he said.
Jared hopes to attend Brigham Young University and then go to medical school to become an ophthalmologist or eye surgeon.
Jared said his experiences have taught him to persevere.
“It will be better in the future,” he said. “I really need to stay on my path.”
You can reach Staff Writer Steve Hart at 521-5205 or email@example.com.
Family: Parents Susan and Ron, older siblings Travis, Mitchell and Shaunna
School: Windsor High School
Activities: Volunteer, Red Cross of Sonoma and Mendocino counties; principal percussionist, Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra
Goal: Attend Brigham Young University, medical school to become an opthalmologist or eye surgeon
Quote: “Being a volunteer really made me see how much I love helping people.”