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VoKs: Kaiser, Wilson, Hernandez-Vazquez
November 3, 2021
For our third issue this school year TKC followed the prompt “Everybody has a story.” TKC staffers were randomly assigned three KHS students to write “Voices of Kirkwood” on. They capture details about a Kirkwood resident: what their hobbies are, what has been their biggest struggle and what makes them different from every other person in Kirkwood. Read Nicholas Whittington’s Vok’s to learn about Anna Kaiser, Zaira Hernandes-Vasquez and Tyler Wilson.
Anna Kaiser has never stayed in one place long. Starting in middle school, she moved schools constantly. “For sixth grade I went to St. Clement, and then for seventh and eighth grade I went to North Kirkwood [Middle School],” Kaiser said. “I then went to Villa Duchesne for two years before transferring to Kirkwood.”
Kaiser said she feels more at home at Kirkwood than at Villa. She sees having both boys and girls in the school takes away some of the pressures faced in an all-girls school. “With all girls there is always so much drama. Everyone wants to pick on other girls to feel better about themselves,” Kaiser said. “[In] the different [friend] groups, [girls] would always switch around and leave people. It was not a good environment.”
While the overwhelming amount of drama contributed to her transfer to Kirkwood, a second major reason was her ongoing battle with anorexia and the medical treatment she received for it. Though Kaiser already attended two years of high school at Villa, she is currently repeating sophomore year at Kirkwood because she was in treatment for a large portion of last year.
Coming [to Kirkwood] was a fresh start.
— Anna Kaiser
“Coming [to Kirkwood] was a fresh start. I enjoy it because I am in a new school and a [different] grade.” While Kaiser does not think the treatment was exceedingly effective as she continues her fight each day, she does believe she gained perspective from going to treatment. “When I went to treatment, everyone had something that they were going through. [Treatment] impacted me in a very positive way.” Through the experiences Kaiser has encountered, she hopes to enter the psychological field after college.
Even though Kaiser has had a difficult time switching schools, she believes the most important thing is to engage with classmates. “It’s really hard when you first come to a new school because you don’t know anyone. I would say be open to opportunities and meeting new people. When I first went to Villa I was so isolated and didn’t talk to anyone. But once I started opening up to other people and engaging with other people, it helped me so much get to know the people there. School is so much harder if you don’t have friends.”
Every summer, Tyler Wilson, freshman, visits his grandparents in Istanbul, Turkey. He said having the opportunity to visit them on a regular basis has allowed him to develop strong relationships with his family. Wilson spent his entire eighth grade year in Turkey because of online learning.
“[Due to the eight hour time difference], I would be up doing virtual school until around 11 p.m.,” Wilson said. “My day would be all before school, then I would go to bed right after I finished school at night. ”
Because Wilson visits each summer, he has been able to form strong friendships. “Turkey is very similar to [the U.S]. Most of the time I hang out with friends and just chill with them.” Wilson also met a lot of his friends on a summer soccer team in Istanbul which he plays on every year.
Being able to visit them has given me a certain level of comfort that not everyone has [with their grandparents].
— Tyler Wilson
While he enjoys visiting Turkey, Wilson said the language barrier between the U.S. and Turkey can cause confusion. “When I first came back to the U.S., I [spoke] Turkish to people [by] accident. It was so weird — I was like, ‘why are they looking at me so weird?’’
Wilson plans to continue his annual visits again during summer 2022 and may also take advantage of flexible online schooling to spend an extended winter break in Turkey. He said there was no specific reason he started visiting his grandparents, but he’s glad he did.
“I get to build a bond with both of my grandparents, especially my grandfather and all the stories he tells. When I was born, my grandparents [took] care of me while my parents were at work. Being able to visit them has given me a certain level of comfort that not everyone has [with their grandparents].”
A home cooked meal means family to Zaira Hernandez-Vazquez, sophomore. Hernandez-Vazque said cooking is a way to connect with her family. “My mother moved to the U.S. [from Mexico] when she was 14 years old and my dad moved here around 16 years old. My [maternal] grandmother grew up in Mexico City.”
Because of her heritage, Hernandez-Vazquez said she grew up around Hispanic dishes. “I would spend a lot of time with my grandmother and she would cook, which [developed] an interest in cooking [I’ve had] ever since I was a little kid.”
Sadly, cooking will never be quite the same to her after the death of her mother last summer. “While [the death of my mother] was a big transition, it has not changed my school learning. I want to get my grades up from last year. I like to have good grades, it makes me feel better about myself as a whole.”
One of Hernandez-Vazquez’s motivations in high school is that she hopes to go to culinary school to pursue cooking. While she hasn’t decided where she wants to study, this is a life path that will allow her to connect with her Hispanic heritage and family. “I [still] want to go to a cooking school to be a chef. Growing up my mom used to always cook and I would be in the kitchen with her. Cooking is a way to connect with both [my mom] and my grandmother.”