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Meeting the challenge at Kentridge | Class of 2014

Joyce Lin successfully balanced her academic, extracurricular and personal pursuits as she progressed through Kentridge.  - Ross Coyle/Kent Reporter
Joyce Lin successfully balanced her academic, extracurricular and personal pursuits as she progressed through Kentridge.
— image credit: Ross Coyle/Kent Reporter

Finding your way in high school isn't easy when surrounded by clubs, sports, cliques and classes.

Finding true passions can be extremely complex and difficult, but not impossible, say two Kentridge High School seniors who receive their diplomas on Saturday at the ShoWare Center.

Joyce Lin and Eli Wills found themselves and some perspective in their four years of high school.

Lin is going to the University of Washington to study business, while Wills has transitioned to Bellevue College as a Running Start student who is considering music and theater.

Lin's choice of study, while still flexible, is based on her father's urging to follow a career that will allow her to move through different settings and meet new people.

"He didn't take many risks when he was younger. He became an engineer at a large corporation where it's difficult to jump around places," Lin said. "He really just encouraged me to not take that path and go into business where it's not so specific."

She split her time between countless activities such as student government, dance, gymnastics and track.

"I spent 25 or 30 hours doing extracurriculars each week," Lin said.

It got to the point where she was spread too thin. Despite the demands, she was glad to try out many different things.

"Sometimes it isn't about the payoff on paper, it's about how rewarding is the experience," she said. "You're always taught that grades are so, so important, but you may lose some of those opportunities trying to chase these good grades."

Lin was up to the challenge and excelled in track and field.

"I didn't pole vault till sophomore year," she said, "but I discovered that I was — relative to the other competitors — way better at pole vault than I was at hurdles."

Lin finished 14th in the vault at the Class 4A state track and field championships last month in Tacoma.

Wills, meanwhile, focused on a single activity and found great success through it. The arts moved him.

On Monday, Wills won a 5th Avenue Theater Award for an Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role as Robbie Hart in the school's production of "The Wedding Singer." He'll be flying to New York City on June 25 to represent the state for his honor.

"I'm floating still," he said, "it still hasn't hit me."

Wills developed an interest in theater from an early age when his father took him to the Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater.

When he saw his older brother's high school performance of "Fame," he was sold.

As a freshman, Wills tried out for Kentridge's "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and beat out several juniors and seniors for a part. Being in the theater program, under the teaching of Jenny Grajewski, helped him realize his talents for theater and music.

"She's incredibly dedicated," Wills said. "She loves kids, she loves helping kids a lot, too."

Staying with musical theater has been one of Wills' most proud moments because it took a lot of personal drive and motivation to know that he was doing something he enjoyed.

"It's not an easy thing to do in high school. There's a lot of misconceptions," he said. "Luckily at KR we have an amazing program. It's a lot of hard work. I'm most proud that freshman year I decided to audition for my first show."

Lin and Wills said that the biggest lesson they came away from high school was to be true to yourself.

"The biggest part — I think it's an obvious thing everybody learns, is to be yourself," Wills said. "You can try to adjust to as many groups as you want to and be a different person at parties, but you need to know what you love to do."

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