Flourish Where You Are Planted

“I feel like plants are really inspirational,” said Smoky Mountain High School senior, Meredith Stack. “They can’t go anywhere. They are rooted in the ground, and they just bloom there. This year, I’ve really been working on trying to flourish where I’m planted.”

Meredith Stack is one of those rare individuals whose mere presence lights up the room and makes it a happier place to be. Her generosity, positive attitude, and gentle demeanor have earned her the admiration of her peers and the respect of her teachers. SMHS Librarian Jackie Methven said, “Meredith is one of the kindest and happiest people I have ever known. She never fluctuates in her kindness toward others. It is just who she is.”

Meredith was born in Sylva and has attended Smoky Mountain High School since 9th grade. A true servant-leader, she is the Senior Class President, FCA Leadership President, National Honor Society Vice-President, and an active member of HOSA and the National Art Honor Society. She has taken the most rigorous courses available and achieved a 4.5 weighted GPA. She was also selected by the school faculty to receive the Miss Mustang award for outstanding achievement throughout her high school career. Lead Teacher Dr. April Avery-Ferguson said, “Meredith is such a wonderful example for all of the students here at Smoky Mountain High School.”

Meredith is one of the kindest and happiest people I have ever known. She never fluctuates in her kindness toward others. It is just who she is.

Ms. Jackie Methven, SMHS

When asked about her time at Smoky Mountain, Meredith replied, “This is such an awesome school. I love the teachers. They don’t just see you as an item. They really do care about whether or not you succeed. Teachers have such a big impact on students’ lives, and I feel like the teachers here really have used their job for the better. They truly do make a difference in our lives.”

Making a difference in the lives of other people is very important to Meredith. She is actively involved in her church and is passionate about serving others through missions. Her first mission experience was a 13-day trip to Ecuador. In 2014, she spent six weeks in Africa digging wells for villages and caring for children with AIDS. In 2015, she spent eight days in Nicaragua. And this year, she is scheduled to spend the month of July in Zambia providing medical services, rebuilding a church, and working in an orphanage caring for children with AIDS. She said, “I’m especially drawn to Africa. AIDS orphans--that’s definitely on my heart--seeing their poverty level, their need for good health care, and their need for just being loved.”

To offset the high cost of her mission trips, she recently turned to another one of her talents. Meredith is an accomplished, award-winning artist who recently earned second place in the 11th Congressional District Artist Discovery Competition. She thought, “I love to paint. Why don’t I sell my paintings for my trip?” So, she posted a couple of pieces on her Facebook page to see if anyone was interested. “I didn’t think it would work out,” she said, “but people began buying stuff.” As a result, she raised about half of the money required for last year’s Nicaragua trip.

Meredith continues to sell her paintings today through her newly created non-profit organization, “New Creation Paintings.” All of the money collected through the organization supports her mission trips and her efforts to care for orphan children with AIDS. Her upcoming trip to Zambia will cost well over $4,000. But, to date, she has covered all but about $700 of that amount through the sales of her paintings. Meredith does not maintain an inventory of her work. Instead, interested buyers commission her to create paintings for them to purchase. Examples of her artwork can be seen on the New Creation Paintings Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/newcreationpaintings/

After graduating from Smoky Mountain, Meredith plans to attend Western Carolina University to study nursing and become a nurse practitioner. Her dream is to use her education on the mission field. “I would love to be a missionary somewhere,” she said. “There’s something about having less that makes me more appreciative of what I’m here for.” When asked who inspires her, she replied, “I would say my dad. He is so humble and so smart, and he’s very wise. His outlook on life is incredible.”

When Meredith is not painting or studying, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, running, and planting flowers. And, through the process of caring for those flowers, she has come to realize that each plant is special in its own way, and each one can bloom and live a beautiful life no matter where it is planted. Meredith gives this advice: “It’s easy to think about changing the whole world, but we forget to look at each individual life. We forget to think we can change their world. That’s how someone can change an entire world—through one person. And, if we all do that, the world can be changed. Don’t be so wrapped up in the future that you forget where you are.”