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From childhood struggles in Georgia to student leader at Comstock Park

Determined student overcomes family challenges, move to new state and school

To say that Abbie Glass has overcome obstacles and adversity might be a huge understatement.

Mature beyond her years, outgoing, personable, optimistic, friendly: All are used to describe Abbie, a popular student leader and graduating senior from Comstock Park High School. But she didn’t come by those traits easily.

Her story starts in Monroe, Georgia, her birthplace a couple of hours east of Atlanta. By age 10 her parents were incarcerated and she moved in with her grandparents. Her parents divorced while they were in prison.

After the death of her grandfather, the main source of income for the family, the family lost their house. The summer before her freshman year of high school, Abbie’s aunt Jessica Borgeld offered her a way forward. Borgeld and her husband, Jim, live in Comstock Park and welcomed Abbie into their home.

“She invited me to come up and make some money babysitting and meet some family I haven’t met,” Abbie said. She helps take care of the Borgelds’ daughter, Gabriella, 8. To add to Abbie’s challenges, Jessica Borgeld is now deployed overseas in Kuwait and had her deployment extended until August.

“Growing up the way I did, I matured a lot faster than a lot of people I know. I never really had a childhood,” said Abbie, who left a brother and sister behind in Georgia.

A Rocky Start

Abbie Glass (center) with her Michigan family, Jessica and Jim Borgeld and their daughter Gabby

Jessica Borgeld said Abbie was nervous about starting high school and not knowing anyone. Borgeld took her to meet some young adults through a special program before school started.

“I told her to just be herself and everything would fall into place and it has,” Borgeld said.

It wasn’t a smooth start, however. Abbie describes her freshman year as very rocky. She fell in with some classmates who “influenced me to do bad things.” She used to judge people and got involved with a lot of drama, she says. But by sophomore year, she said, she started making some better decisions and new friends.

Junior year was a highlight year: She kept her grade point average above 3.5, worked part-time at Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, and started going to football games and other sporting events.

“I put myself out there. I tried to be there for everyone and be the positivity while everyone had a lot going on,” Abbie said.

She got involved in student leadership, ran for class secretary and won. After her successful year, she decided to run for senior class president and won again. She takes the responsibility seriously, as many look to her to lead. Abbie also tutors students who struggle in Spanish and algebra.

Not one to take it easy her senior year, Abbie is enrolled in three Advanced Placement classes – chemistry, psychology, and language and composition, which she continues to take online. She plans to attend Grand Rapids Community College to become a dental hygienist.

“Abbie is a great leader. She’s always done whatever she could to help with the school,” said Wynter Ward, Abbie’s best friend since her early days in Michigan. “She loves and cares for all of her friends and never leaves anyone out.”

Abbie Glass, left, with her best friend, Wynter Ward

Relationships with Faculty

Abbie has become close with a lot of CPHS teachers and administrators, including Maggie Parrish, who taught Abbie in Psychology 1 and 2, AP Psychology and government. Parrish got emotional and teary eyed when talking about Abbie.

“She’s just fabulous. She is one of the students that will stay with you forever,” Parrish said. “I’m just so unbelievably thankful to play a little bit of a role in her life. Going to high school is kind of nerve-wracking for all students. She switched school systems and switched states and she just ran with it.”

Parrish describes Abbie as dynamic, “with a southern drawl that helps gets some of the kids’ attention, especially when she was new.” She commends Abbie for her resilience and vision despite the ups and downs with her family.

“The other piece is that she genuinely cares. She’ll call kids out when they’re misbehaving,” Parrish said.

Given Abbie’s great talent in working with others, Parrish  hopes she will  use her story and background to assist others even if it’s some sort of mentoring.

Despite that rocky start, Abbie enjoys high school at Comstock Park.

“When I go there it feels like all of us are just a family,” Abbie said, adding that before the school closures, “I looked forward to going to school because of how much it felt like we were united.”

Abbie Glass is president of her senior class
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Karen Gentry
Karen Gentry
Karen Gentry is from Evansville, Indiana and St. Joseph, Mich. and a graduate of Lake Michigan Catholic High School and Central Michigan University. She moved to the Grand Rapids area in the mid-1980s and has been a resident of Comstock Park since 2002. She understands the complexity, rewards and challenges of the teaching profession as she has five years experience as a high school teacher at River Valley High School in Three Oaks, Mich. and St. Stephen High School in Saginaw. As a reporter for the Advance Newspapers and Mlive she covered Sparta, Kent City and Northview schools. She is happy to be reunited with some of her journalism colleagues and writing about Comstock Park Public Schools for the School News Network. Read Karen's full bio or email Karen.

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