Who I Am: A collection of profiles

In a look at what makes people unique, the JagWire profiles five students whose passions and experiences have shaped who they are

March 10, 2016

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By Karissa Schmidt

In the woods, junior Brady Herron plays his guitar on Monday, Feb. 29.

Junior uses music as creative outlet

Junior Brady Herron shapes his life around songwriting and his band, Counterculture

As the lights dim and the crowd bursts into cheers and applause at the annual Battle of the Bands at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, junior Brady Herron sings his last note to the audience with the rest of his band, Counterculture, behind him.

Herron was first introduced to music when he received a guitar as a gift at the age of six. Initially, however, Herron said he “felt obligated to play it [and] didn’t like it that much.”

Nevertheless, Herron continued to play and over time began to enjoy it more. He eventually evolving into performing guitar by himself in front of his peers, performing an original song at his fifth grade talent show.

Three months ago, Herron, along with junior Jakob Errigo and junior David Kuk, formed the alternative band named Counterculture, debuting at the annual Battle of the Bands at the Nelson-Atkins Museum on Friday, Feb. 19.

Herron thinks Counterculture is different than other local bands because of their unique style and lyrics.

“I think it says it in the name,” Herron said. “We write songs towards being kind of counter-culture. We don’t want to try to come off as a bunch of hippies that are against every single thing that culture has to offer, but it’s easy to write about stupid things that everyone does.”

Junior band member David Kuk said Herron has grown since being a part of Counterculture and has greatly influenced the band as a whole.

“[Herron has] impacted our band through creating a much more unique sound,” Kuk said. “[He] is really good at writing catchy lyrics and verses and stuff. Brady makes the band counter-culture.”

In addition to performing, Herron has been writing songs since elementary school.

“I’ve definitely gotten more in tune with myself through [music],” Herron said. “Instead of thinking about my thoughts, I’m now putting it on paper and performing it for people. There’s a lot of self-discovery when you’re writing music.”

According to Kuk, Herron is perceived as the main songwriter for Counterculture.

“[The process is] very collaborative but Brady writes all the lyrics so he kind of drives most of the song and we all chime in and structure the rest,” Cook said.

Herron said it’s “unpredictable who [he] would be without music” due to the large impact it has made on him.

Although he is at the beginning of his career in music, Herron wants to continue to pursue his passion.

“[Music has] been a part of my life for so long and I really want to be a rockstar, and I want that not for the fame part of it, but just so I can do music for a living,” Herron said.

Ultimately, the presence of music in Herron’s life has shaped him into the person he is today.

“[Music] gives me a lot of opportunities to express myself and it brings a lot of people together in a lot of ways,” Herron said. “It just makes me really happy, and it doesn’t really matter what specific part of it makes me happy because it all does.”

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By Karissa Schmidt

Sitting poolside, seniors Claudia Meredith and Jennifer Sims laugh over a story.

Swimming fosters friendship’s growth

Being on the girls swim team together positively influences the friendship of seniors Jennifer Sims and Claudia Meredith

When senior Jennifer Sims moved across from senior Claudia Meredith in fourth grade, the two didn’t know they would become such close friends.

When freshman year approached, Sims taught Meredith how to swim so the two could join the girls swim team. According to Meredith, being on the team together has positively impacted their relationship.

“There’s a lot of times when you can’t find times to hang out outside of swim, especially when it’s going on, so we get to hang out more,” Meredith said. “I’d also say it adds a little competitiveness, but it’s a healthy competitiveness.”

Sims agreed, and said the competitive aspect of their friendship has also impacted other elements of her life.

“She’s pushed me really hard, not just with swim, but with grades,” Sims said. “Throughout middle school, we were competitive with everything so I would always want to get the better grade.”

Competing in swim together also brings the two closer by providing a topic for discussions.

“[Swim] gives you something to always talk about [and she] always understands what [I’m] going through,” Meredith said.

Meredith said that Sims has ultimately made her more of an extrovert and more willing to participate in high school activities.

“She’s definitely made me more outgoing,” Meredith said. “Freshman year, I wouldn’t go out as much and didn’t want to be outgoing, but she was like ‘OK, we gotta go to the football games, you have to go eat that ice cream with me,’ so that was nice.”

The two intend to continue their friendship and swim together after high school.

“We will both be attending K-State next year,” Sims said. “We plan on joining the club swim team there and [will] continue to push each other. I always have someone to go to no matter what. She’s always there. She may have moved three houses down the street now, but she’s still there.”

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By Claire Biles

Sophomore Jameson Isaacsen stands with Quiz Bowl coach Mary Beth Mattingly in her classroom.

Sophomore finds confidence through Quiz Bowl

Sophomore Jameson Isaacsen finds voice and gains more positive outlook with involvement in Quiz Bowl

Buzzing in his response, sophomore Jameson Isaacsen correctly answers a question at Quiz Bowl practice. According to Isaacsen, Quiz Bowl is a major part of his identity.

“I went to my first competition and discovered that by giving myself something to do, other than just sitting around,” Isaacsen said, “I was much happier than I had been in a long time.”

Since getting involved in an activity outside of school that he can succeed in, Isaacsen said he has been a more positive person as a whole.

“I’m a lot more driven now to succeed in what I do,” Isaacsen said. “I [now] have some goal that I am working towards and that will bring me happiness.”

Quiz Bowl coach Mary Beth Mattingly has seen Isaacsen’s confidence rise significantly since he joined Quiz Bowl.

“He’s a very energetic young man,” Mattingly said, “and I think he’s found a place where he feels he can do very well in, and it gives him an extracurricular activity that is meaningful.”

According to him, Quiz Bowl succeeds because of Mattingly, who has been the coach since the school opened.

“I think it would be different without [Mattingly],” Isaacsen said. “[She] really did help solidify [my growth] by being an excellent coach and really encouraging me to go all out and try as hard as possible. [Quiz Bowl has] really showed me something to strive towards and to be better at.”

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By Claire Biles

Junior Spencer Taylor stands in AP Calculus teacher Brian Rodkey’s room on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

AP Calculus impacts junior’s work ethic

Difficult math course allows junior Spencer Taylor to grow as a student

Although junior Spencer Taylor has stayed up late night after night finishing his AP Calculus homework, he says it has changed him for the better.

“[AP Calculus] is definitely the most difficult course I’ve taken,” Taylor said. “Other courses I’ve taken, even if they’ve been AP classes, have been not that difficult. They only required a small amount of extra studying, while [AP Calculus] has definitely affected the way I study and the way I listen and the way I do my homework.”

Taylor is glad he was given the opportunity to take the class because of how it has affected his work ethic.

“I think it’s made me a person who works harder,” Taylor said. “And now I appreciate the hard work that many people go through to complete difficult courses.”

AP Calculus teacher Brian Rodkey agrees that the class has its benefits despite being a challenging course.

“There’s a huge aspect of academic success in college, that is around organization, time management, and just being willing to work through problems,” Rodkey said. “Realize from past experience of success in class that just because you hit something difficult, doesn’t mean you have to get stopped by it.”

Ultimately, Taylor believes that taking AP Calculus was a good decision in the long run, and he is thankful for the opportunity to have taken the class.

“I’m able to embrace harder courses now,” Taylor said. “And I feel like I’m prepared for anything after [AP Calculus].”

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