Just Spit it Out: Baird lights up lives with wit, wisdom

By Lindsay Cameron

She has the best laugh possible, her friend’s mom once told Cassie Baird, a junior at Ashland University who is majoring in child and family studies.

Baird, who is trying to soak up her time in college as a normal girl, has a life filled with the unusual-a stuffed animal Dalmatian named “Stripe,” stolen lawn gnomes from her neighbor, and dead bodies in her basement.

Icing on the cake? Baird has stage fright, yet she and her high school chorus sang with Kenny Rogers in 2007 and did two performances with Andy Williams during one weekend in 2006. She was vocally trained by Toon Vandevorst, a composer, vocalist and musician who studied piano education at The Hague in the Netherlands.

The “no drama” New York resident, whose town has two stoplights, said, “I’m not really a country girl, but there’s country all around me,” referring to the wilderness around her house she loves, but the music she doesn’t. She and her friends used to pack food and spend hours in the woods jumping across rivers, building campfires, and chasing deer.

At AU, Baird enjoys teaching her friends wilderness survival techniques, such as identifying bears from which to run or which to “play dead.” Her favorite view in her home is her bedroom window on the second floor, which overlooks the pine trees.

Many issues surrounded Baird during her last two years of high school-a friend’s father passed away, she and her best friend had a falling out, and she went through a distressing break up. Baird left high school with baggage, wishing for a fresh start.

Baird said her current boyfriend, Andrew Sobiesiak, whom she has known for four years, helped her through the rough times.

“I’ve spent a lot of time putting up walls,” Baird said. “This summer I looked at old stuff that would have made me sad, and it didn’t make me sad anymore.”

She attributes this to the help of Sobiesiak, who said he is blessed to be with Baird, but also to her band and choir director, George Standish, whom she admires.

“I suppose in 20 years if people said, ‘Who are some students you remember?’ she [Baird] would be one of them,” Standish said.

Baird said Standish would let her have silence in his office, where she could let out her emotions. He was always available if she needed him, and gave her space she needed throughout the school days.

“We just got along. She understood me, I understood her,” Standish said. He described her as a memorable, respectful, dependable student whom every teacher would love to have in the classroom – “just the whole package,” he said.

If Baird would need to confide in him again, Standish said she knows she could look him up and come talk to him.

Her trust issues stemming from her high school experiences have kept some of her college friendships from having depth, Baird said.

Baird’s friend, senior Katie Mock, said Baird, a freshman then, asked if she could sit in Convo with Mock and her friends, all sophomores. Mock’s first impression of Baird was her bravery.

Later, her reliability as a friend, and her humor stood out more.

“She can always speak her mind and whatever she says is either perfect for the situation or really funny,” Mock said. Mock and their other friends are some of the few on campus who know Baird well.

“Anything with music makes me think of Cassie because she has the best taste and understands my obsession with Jared Leto,” Mock said. “And definitely the lunches last semester, including when she scared people away by talking about having bodies in her basement.”

The dead bodies are from her father’s funeral home business.

Baird gets along well with her parents. It was her father who named her Dalmatian friend “Stripe.” Baird said she has grown to value her antique white bedroom set because it is her mother’s. The bed once had a canopy.

Baird said she was raised in a Christian household. The fun she has is different from the typical college drinking parties; they do not interest her.

“I think my compass on what’s right and what’s wrong is usually pretty much right on,” Baird said.

An example of ‘Baird fun,’ Sobiesiak said, includes a time when she stole lawn gnomes out of the yard of the most disliked, grumpiest teacher at Wayland-Cohocton High School. Baird, her brother Quint and her best friend Megan, army-crawled (dressed in black) into the teacher’s yard and took a gnome out of his flowerbed. They later returned it by setting it on top of his mailbox.

“A lot of little things in life make her happy,” Sobiesiak said. “She takes closure in some of the finer things.”

Baird’s goals include possibly moving west, going to graduate school, and becoming a mental health counselor for teens. Having children is a goal intimate and precious to her.

“I know I don’t have everything together, but I feel like I would be a pretty good mom,” Baird said.

On campus, Baird is in psychology club, FCS club, and Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology.

“A lot of my peers are trying to do as much as they can as fast as they can,” Baird said. “Which is not a bad thing, but I’m much more laid-back.”

In this way, Baird said she stands out because she is “at peace with going slow and soaking everything in without lighting the world on fire,” though her friends might argue she already has.