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Student abandoned at birth flourishes at Catholic school

Kiara Johnson discovered her love for reading and writing at Annunciation School.

“It’s just a fun thing to do, maybe because I have such a big imagination and I am able to express myself through writing,” she said from her home in Denver.

The 13-year-old is graduating eighth grade and will attend Arrupe Jesuit High School next year.

She shared her love for books and gave a snapshot of her life last week at the annual Hope Springs Eternal Luncheon hosted by Seeds of Hope Charitable Trust, a nonprofit that serves disadvantaged, inner-city children by providing tuition assistance to attend Catholic schools.

Kiara, who was adopted as a child, was selected to receive this year’s Journey of Hope Scholarship. She spoke to the crowd at the DoubleTree hotel in Greenwood Village about her gratitude for attending Catholic school.

“During my time at Annunciation, my faith has been strengthened because we go to Mass and I have time to spend with God,” she said. “This is important to me because it makes me feel at ease and I am happy and calm in his presence.”

She said the school feels safe and the teachers willingly give their time and talent to help with questions.

Her adoptive mother, Debra Johnson, needed assistance paying for tuition at the school after suffering a coma and left unable to work.

“As a result of that we had to sell our house and move in with a friend of ours,” Kiara said. “Just last week we were able to get our own place again.”

Debra, who was unable to have children, now works part time at Annunciation. She’s cared for Johnson since the child was 3-weeks old and adopted her at age 3. Her biological mother was unable to care for her.

“She had a drug addiction,” Kiara told the Denver Catholic Register. “(Debra) watched me over a weekend. After she watched me that weekend, (my biological mom) never came back. She had other children; I was just one of them but she gave me away.”

Kiara said she thinks she has a better life with Debra who she respects and considers her best friend.

“We always love to go to the movies together, and I know she will always be there for me,” Kiara said. “That is our special connection.”

Kiara has attended Annunciation for 10 years. She wouldn’t have attended without a scholarship from Seeds of Hope. This year she was accepted into Arrupe, a Catholic Jesuit school in northwest Denver that serves inner-city, low-income students.

Debra said she’s impressed with her daughter. Her speech during the luncheon “was moving” and she heard many compliments about her.

“I am very proud of her,” Debra said.

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