Mark arrived in the summer of 1996. He had a huge personality from the get-go — silly, engaging, always ready to laugh, a lover of absurd humor. His first word was “Deeee!” – “Cheese!” – for the constant photographs. He loved to talk – a lot – and he learned to read at the age of 4. He was friendly and kind to every single person he met – young or old. He hated conflict, getting shots, yard work, and was excellent at avoiding responsibility.

Incredibly smart and quick-witted, school was a cake-walk and he barely did the work, yet he delighted his teachers and classmates. He tested well – got a 34 on the ACT and well over 2200 on his SAT (I guess I can brag about this now) – and was admitted to the highly competitive Virginia Tech School of Engineering. He was so excited to finally start taking aerospace and astrophysics courses as he began his sophomore year in August of 2015.

He adored his big sister, Sarah, and always, somewhat secretly, wanted to do everything she did – up to a point (he drew the line at color guard).

His favorite pastimes were gaming (he was an avid, avid online gamer – mostly Counterstrike Global Offensive), hanging out with and making silly movies/parodies with his friends, singing, musical theatre, reading, eating, youth group, sleeping and getting in your personal space.

Here are some favorite videos Mark made with his friends, which round out the picture.
How to Make the Ultimate Cake
Middle H (music video — it’s a parody!)
The Night
Sarah was born in the coldest part of 1994. With enormous grey/blue eyes and an ever-8c5e1d_4a00a316fa184cf09ac1e0000e379190watchful gaze, she is the quieter of the two, and a very keen observer. Even as a toddler, she demonstrated innate, old soul intelligence; she could sum up situations neatly, with few words. She is one of the strongest, most capable people I know.

Sarah loved singing, books and reading from the age of 1, and was often completely lost in literary bliss. The Harry Potter series remains a favorite; when she was admitted to the advanced academic program in 3rd grade, Sarah declared she “felt like she’d been invited to Hogwarts!”

Her 10 year old self would never believe the determination, power, grace and beauty Sarah has come to exemplify as she has pursued the passion she discovered her sophomore year of high school: color guard. It has become her singular pursuit. Three summers were devoted to 12-16 hour days of nothing else as she marched with Drum Corps International. Now that she has aged out of the activity, she continues sharing her skill and joy as a coach to high school students. You can watch her do what she loves here.

She will graduate in 2018 with a master’s degree in early inclusive childhood education. We can’t wait to see what the future brings.