Abby Deneen is a busy sophomore at Buffalo High School. She is involved with music, sports, Student Council, activities such as Impact Leaders, and volunteering in the community. She enjoys most of her classes, especially science and math, and plays clarinet in the Varsity Band and piano in the Jazz Band.
Abby plays soccer for Wright County Soccer Club. She has just completed her seventh season, and her second as goalie. Her season ended a little short with a pretty major injury in June, but she looks forward to playing again next summer, and is managing the Girl’s Varsity Soccer team this fall as a way to stay involved.
This will be Abby’s fourth year of volunteering at local elementary schools.
I just do odd jobs like putting up art projects or doing reading tests with the kids, but either way it’s always enjoyable.
Abby’s parents are Bill and Katie Deneen. Bill works at the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant, serves on Zion’s council, and is involved with many other things around Zion. He is also very involved with our local soccer club. Katie works at Northwinds Elementary School as a first grade teacher. She has also volunteered at Zion in many ways, including Sunday School and VBS. Abby’s younger brother named Peter is in seventh grade this year, and loves playing soccer and being outdoors. The Deneen family also has a dog named George who is “our big, floppy Goldendoodle”.
The Deneen family lived in Plymouth when Abby was younger and attended St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church. After moving to Buffalo when Abby was in first grade, they continued to drive to Plymouth every weekend, whether for a Saturday night or Sunday morning service. When Abby was in about fifth or sixth grade they realized it was time to find a church home closer to Buffalo, and found Zion to be the best fit for their family.
Zion has become like a second home to me. I can always come and find someone to talk to, hang out with, or just get a hug from when I need it. You don’t find a place like this very often, and I am so lucky my family did.
During middle school, Abby was part of Sunday School and Grapple as a sixth grader, helped with VBS and an after-school program at Zion, and completed the two-year confirmation program with both her parents as confirmation guides.
This past year as a freshman, Abby started volunteering in Zion’s Sunday School program and had “the privilege of spending almost every Sunday morning with an awesome group of pre-schoolers.” She is excited to be able to help out again this school year, too. She also started attending Graceland, Zion’s senior high youth group. She had heard from some friends that “it is a ton of fun and you get a lot out of it too.” Having looked up to the older students when she was in middle school, Abby also liked the idea of being one of those older students to look up to for someone else. She found that the other students (even the boys) welcomed her. “Never once did I feel out of place or not accepted. That’s a pretty great feeling.”
Although all the other activities I’ve taken part in here have been great, the one I love the most is Graceland. Once I got into high school and got to be a part of it, my Wednesday nights were the best they’d ever been (not that Confirmation wasn’t fun; Graceland is just a little more fun). The mission trips were a lot more fun than I was expecting too (well, maybe except for 100-degree bus on the way back from Colorado).
Abby found that other Graceland participants were in her classes at school, serving on the Student Council with her, and riding her school bus. After a year of spending time with them in Graceland, she developed a bond with many of them.
A lot of the upper class girls became like older sisters to me and I am going to miss them so much this year now that they’re off to college! Especially after going on the mission trip together this past summer, all of our relationships have grown stronger and that’s something I’m so thankful for. Without being a part of youth group, I would have never formed these bonds.
Abby’s advice for others who think they might want to get involved with the senior high group is to just do it.
You won’t regret it one bit, and you don’t get an experience like it anywhere else. Where else can you get free food, hang out with some pretty cool people and learn about God? I mean, come on!