Class of 2020 Senior Profiles: Andie Clutter (posthumous honor)
Andrea Marie Clutter, known as Andie, passed away suddenly on November 18, 2018 at the age of 16 from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death from EPilepsy). Andie's battle with epilepsy began at age 4 when doctors found a leaking "cavernoma" (a tangled blood vessel) in her brain, causing absence seizures and complex partial seizures. The next morning, Andie underwent brain surgery to remove the cavernoma & stop the seizures. Her family was warned the previous bleeding and surgery left scar tissue, and seizures may or may not return--there was no way to know if or when. Andie enjoyed almost 9.5 years seizure-free until her first grand mal seizure on her bus, at her bus stop. A second seizure, about six weeks later, renewed her previous epilepsy diagnosis. Andie battled the condition another 2.5 years, and never let it stop her from living her best life. She also never let it make her bitter, even when every seizure meant a six month delay to apply for her driving permit.
When SUDEP stole Andie's future, she was an 11th grade student at Upper Perkiomen High School. She was also attending Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center for cosmetology, and she had dreams of becoming a cosmetology teacher. She enjoyed working at McDonald's in Pennsburg, and planned to become a volunteer firefighter. She was also active in youth groups at LCBC-Branch Creek in Harleysville, Lighthouse Church & St. Mark's Church in Pennsburg.
Andie was a creative free spirit, indulging in drawing, writing her own poetry and lyrics, listening to and creating music on music.ly, ceramics and photography. In elementary school she enjoyed playing the flute. She also had a love for cooking, baking and the outdoors, especially swimming. She enjoyed many different sports/activities when she was younger, including swimming, cheerleading, soccer, softball, dance and being a basketball manager at UPMS.
Many will fondly remember her immense bear hugs, willingness to listen and ability make you smile, no matter what was going on in her life. She enjoyed spending time with her friends--Andie LOVED to laugh! Andie was a passionate advocate for epilepsy awareness and anti-bullying. Her loss is felt by many in Upper Perk, and the Upper Perkiomen School District is honored to present Andie’s diploma posthumously.
Special thanks to Andie's mom, Alyssa Sandt, for providing much of this information, and for answering the senior profile questions below on Andie's behalf:
What activities were you most involved in during high school?
Andie enjoyed the many creative courses available. Photography class was a favorite as it increased her skill and love of photography. However, Andie MOST enjoyed her time in Cosmetology at WMCTC.
Which teacher/class/experience had a profound impact on you, and why?
Andie greatly appreciated ALL the support she received from her teachers, counselors, nurses & bus drivers through her years at Upper Perk. They were all made aware of the potential for seizures since kindergarten, and once her diagnosis was renewed, they were all aware of that and remained alert for any potential seizure behavior, since not all of her seizures were the classic grand mals most people know about.
Her battle with epilepsy showed her, and others, how strong and resilient she was. From her times at CHOP, Andie wanted to be a nurse. But she soon learned that she enjoyed teaching/helping others, and by the end of 10th grade, after talks with some of her teachers, she was very excited about her choice to become a math & science teacher.
Events she witnessed in school built her passion to stand-up for herself and others against bullying.
After Andie began the cosmetology course, she noticed math and science is a big part of the trade. She made a decision to teach cosmetology, as it meant she would still be teaching those subjects but also get to share her creative side. Andie most enjoyed her time at WMCTC. She was excelling in the course, growing as an individual, and further developing her creativity.
What is the one thing you will miss most about Upper Perk?
The love and support of all her friends, and the support of her teachers, counselors & nurses at all the schools.
What are your plans for after graduation?
Andie had planned to complete an extra year at WMCTC in order to meet the requirements needed to become a cosmetology teacher, and then possibly "go away to college", but the specifics of college were not decided before she was taken by SUDEP.
What is your ultimate goal in your career/life?
In addition to wanting to be a cosmetology teacher and a volunteer firefighter, Andie also wanted to raise awareness of epilepsy. She and her mom planned to participate in epilepsy walks every year. In November, she dyed her hair purple, the awareness color of epilepsy. Her mom, with the help of her family and friends, intends to continue raising awareness, in Andie's honor, of not only epilepsy, but also the condition that took Andie from all of us, SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in EPilepsy). They've created a Facebook page (Andie's "ROAD"trip) with a kindness rock/rock finding group, sharing epilepsy information on the page. This year being the exception, due to COVID-19, they plan to have a team at the annual Lehigh Valley Epilepsy Foundation awareness walk. Anyone interested in joining is more than welcome! The team name is Andie's Warriors. There is also an annual scholarship gift planned to begin this school year, and a hope to one day begin a foundation in Andie's honor, to further raise awareness of epilepsy, SUDEP & provide access to resources for those battling epilepsy.