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'One hour at a time': Billings Skyview High senior juggles 18 extracurricular activities

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Posted at 10:43 AM, Feb 26, 2024

BILLINGS — Between academics, sports, or even a social life, a high school student does a lot of juggling. But one Billings Skyview High School senior is proving that she can do it all.

Not only does Vanessa Afraid of Bear own her own business, but she's a part of 18 extracurricular activities.

Whether it's being a leader in Billings Public Schools Student Tribal Council, or performing her duties as president of Skyview High's All Nations Club, Afraid of Bear has her hands full.

“Just taking it one hour at a time or one day at a time really helps me focus on that club in particular. I don't know, I make a lot of lists...Surprisingly, I don’t have a calendar so it’s all in my head," said Afraid of Bear on Wednesday.

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Skyview High School senior Vanessa Afraid of Bear

Skyview High Track and Field, Business Professionals of America, Skyview High Pep Band, DECA, Crow Tribal Youth Council and Nigh Hawk Dance Society are just a few.

It's a passion that started when she was just a kid. 

"In third grade is when I cofounded the Soaring Eagles Dance Group. It was a group that was bascially to help promote Native American dancing, especially in an urban setting," Afraid of Bear said.

“She was at Sandstone helping the Native Club down there make fry bread. And she was always right in, willing to help out, even as a little girl,” said Clint Valandra, the Indian Education home to school Coordinator for Skyview High and one of Afraid of Bear's mentors.

It's just one aspect of her busy life.

“I founded my business when I was 17-years-old. it’s called Good Fortune Creations. I do Native American art and jewelry and then I’m also Miss Teen Montana State University,” added Afraid of Bear.

She says her Crow and Lakota heritage is a huge motivator for her. Nearly half of the extracurriculars she's in are Indigenous-focused.

“That’s like one thing I learned never to hide, is being Native in such a diverse setting. I try my hardest in whatever I do to nativize it or indigen-ize it,” Afraid of Bear said.

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Clint Valandra

It's this attitude that makes it tough for mentors like Valandra to see her go.

“Every year it’s always sad to see seniors graduate but I know when Vanessa and that group go, they’re going to do great things,” said Valandra.

Great things are just the beginning for Afraid of Bear. Once she graduates, she'll take summer classes at Little Big Horn College before attending Montana State University in Bozeman in the fall for environmental engineering and Native American studies.

“My main goal is just to spread joy and happiness and just really make the world a better place. And if I can do that with a bunch of clubs, I can do anything,” Afraid of Bear said.