Mimicking the style of the popular blog ‘Humans of New York’, The Harbinger takes a brief look into the lives of three East students.
Clayton Phillips, freshman
A soft sunrise. Glowing granny-smith green mountains. Jagged stones jut out underneath a dark figure’s feet in the doodle, and six letters appear within each shape spelling out the company’s logo: Google. The 2011 Doodle 4 Google theme was “what I’d like to do someday,” and freshman Clayton Phillips wanted to “find beauty in everything.” So he drew just that.
Clayton entered the Doodle 4 Google contest when he was in sixth grade, just to see what would happen. He brainstormed ideas and sketched four different drafts. He ended up spending an entire day on the final draft, penciling in details and trying to make it as good as it could be.
He’s always had the drive to make art. It’s been natural for him since he was a kid, going to the Nelson Atkins to take classes and look at art. It’s his passion, and it’s the kind of thing he wants to do for the rest of his life.
Google called his mom a month later. He’d made it to the top 10 in the grade four through six division out of everyone in the nation. He was shocked. He never imagined that his school would have an assembly to announce it, or that Google would fly him to New York City for the awards ceremony. And out of thousands of applicants, he never imagined that he would win the whole contest.
Before the contest art was just a hobby. But winning helped him realize that he could make art his life. It’s been three years since he won; now he wants to go to school for art, maybe become a graphic designer. There are so many possibilities, and for him, it’s only just the beginning.
Viviana Rodriguez, senior
She thought they were talking about her. They were always talking about her. It was elementary school, and senior Viviana Rodriguez’s family had just moved to the U.S. from Mexico. She didn’t understand English very well; she felt different. She started to cry when she saw the two other girls talking to each other and looking at her. But during recess, the girls walked up to her and said they only wanted to play and be friends; they didn’t notice that she was “different.”
Viviana didn’t know what an immigrant was until middle school. After elementary school, she went to an all-Hispanic school where the kids would joke about green cards. But it didn’t really hit her what being an immigrant meant until she was in high school. It meant her friends qualifying for the Dream Act, people assuming her family didn’t pay taxes. It meant knowing that some of the only jobs they could get were the jobs no one else wanted.
Since she started high school, she’s been giving talks about immigration to kids around Kansas City. She’s trying to inform people, to combat ignorance. For her, immigration means a lot. There’s a stigma about it, and there’s a lot of misinformation. At one of her talks, a kid asked if she watched “Spongebob.”
Of course she did. Despite what a lot of Americans call immigrants, Viviana knows she’s not an alien. She knows she looks a little different, but she’s not from Mars. She’s a human being.
Ian Rhodes, senior
The guy on his left was from Seoul, South Korea. The girl on his right was from the New England Conservatory of Music. In the waiting room before his audition, senior Ian Rhoads was facing competition from around the world. He was terrified. When he’d finally auditioned in front of one of Berklee College of Music’s professors, he thought he’d done well. As time progressed he kept thinking of more ways to criticize himself, and he didn’t think he’d get accepted. Berklee was one of, if not the, best music schools in the country. There was no way.In the third grade, Ian’s dad asked him if he wanted to take guitar lessons. Why not? He started playing, and it came naturally. Putting different fingers on different frets, switching tempos and rhythms; it was second nature. He progressed faster than the other kids, and when Ian figured out that playing guitar was something he enjoyed, he decided to put more work into it.
Since then he’s competed in various jazz festivals, won numerous awards and made East’s top jazz band. On a whim he auditioned for the Marine Jazz Ambassadors, the official touring band of the United States Army, and made it on his first try. They play for dignitaries and heads of state, sometimes even the president.
He wants to score films. Or go into music education. Of course, Ian wants stability and a nice paycheck, but he also wants to be creative. Berklee would give him this opportunity. On Jan. 31 at 12 p.m., when he opened his email, Ian finally received a notice that Berklee had made their decision. He clicked the link to their website, but it wouldn’t load. He sat there, continually refreshing, waiting for the words to appear. At midnight, he got his answer. A wide grin spread across his face, and he raised his arms and cheered. He’d made it.