Ephrata High School senior Abby Binkley loves school.
"In the summer, I can't wait to come back," said Binkley, 17, daughter of Mike and Vanessa Binkley, of Ephrata.
"I take school seriously. Just like a house needs a firm foundation, school is the foundation of my future.
"My main goal is to try to make something of my life and try to make a difference in school."
The thoughtful honor-roll student, who fits the mold of someone in the caring profession, wants to be a teacher.
"I would rather do something for someone else than myself. In a heartbeat, I would help someone else, even if I don't know that person. Whenever anyone needed help, I would go over and try to help."
Binkley plans to major in special education/early education at East Stroudsburg University. The ESU track and field coach has recruited her for the team.
A sprinter, she holds school records in the 4 x 400 meter relay and pole vaulting. Last month, the 4 x 400 team qualified for the indoor state track meet.
Binkley, who describes herself as "energetic, loud and outgoing," ranks 67th in her class of 293 students, with a grade-point average of 3.95 weighted, 3.532 unweighted.
She will graduate with three Advanced Placement courses - calculus, statistics and German 5.
"I picked (German) up as an elective in eighth grade and fell in love with it," she said.
Her favorite subject is math.
"I love challenges. The feeling you get after you complete a big problem, you can't describe."
Her favorite course is the district's Service Learning Project, for which she observes and teaches in Jami Loercher's kindergarten and first grade special education classroom at Fulton Elementary School two periods most school days.
"I love getting to know them," she said. "I love the atmosphere. They're great kids to teach.
"In the classroom, I want to create a safe environment that promotes good, lifelong learning habits. I want it to be somewhere they want to come, not somewhere they dread coming."
With an easygoing nature, she said she is able to "go with the flow" in the classroom.
"You never know what's going to happen. Every day is different. I'm learning from the kids; they're learning from me."
Binkley worships at Ephrata's Grace Fellowship Church, where she helps in the nursery school and attends Sunday school "every Sunday."
"We spend an hour with the pastor before the service. We read books and discuss them. We just finished 'The Prodigal God.' It's a great book. I learned a lot from it."
On weekends and evenings, she works at the Cloister Car Wash in Ephrata.
Her parents and brother, Dylan, 21, are her heroes.
"My family has had the biggest impact on who I am today."
At school, Binkley served with the German American Partnership Program committee last year and through the program hosted a student from Germany for three weeks in October.
In June, the student will reciprocate, hosting Binkley in her home in Germany. During the monthlong trip, she will tour Germany, Switzerland and France.
She also served on the school's Youth Peace Council for three years, including two years as vice president of the Lancaster/Lebanon YPC.
"We promote peace in schools. We'd have speakers on bullying and abuse and learn how we can take that back to our school and promote awareness.
"I've seen things, bullying and putting people down. I've seen so many kids just throw their ability and talent away. I hate to see that happen."