GRANITE FALLS — Jacob Kerst, 18, is a senior at Crossroads High School who is finishing the final requirements for graduation despite missing his freshman year. He has overcome anxiety to become a leader at his school and a musician and artist.
Question: So you’re graduating in June?
Answer: Yes, I should be, even though I missed my freshman year. I didn’t get any credit for that year, but I’m graduating on time.
Q: Why did you miss freshman year?
A: I just had an anxiety fluctuation. It just showed up out of nowhere. I didn’t know anything about it. It was probably always was there, but around freshman year it just came out and was like, ‘I’m going to come at you full force and hit you with everything I’ve got.’ I didn’t know how to handle it, so I started physically getting sick. I would puke on the way to school and at school. It just got (to be) too much, to the point where I didn’t feel it was worth it. It took until sophomore year to get it figured out.
Q: What have you had to do to get back on track to graduate?
A: I like to do things alternatively, so I’ve really worked with the teachers to help me figure out how to get it done quicker and not just sit and do packets. I’ve done things like volunteer and that would give me credit. My senior project is a music project I’m doing after school here. For part of my Washington State (history) requirements … I want to go to a drum circle. Since the first quarter is about Native Americans, I thought it would make sense to go do something instead of just doing a bunch of packets. Also, for world history, two of the quarters I’m doing projects instead of packets. I think I’ve had eight or nine classes the entire time I’ve been going to school because I’ve been making up credits.
Q: Tell me more about the music project.
A: Every Wednesday we open it up and we just let people come in and show their talent. We just jam for an hour. Anybody who shows up, we ask them what songs they want to play and just go with it. We usually learn and start playing new stuff because of the people who come in. We keep it a nice free, open space where people who don’t usually show their music ability can come out of their shell a little bit. I know there’s a lot of people here who have those abilities but they’re not confident enough to go out there and do it. I’ve had that problem myself.
Q: So music is a passion of yours?
A: One of my biggest. I’m in the after-school band and I have a private band I’m in. My instrument that I’m great at is guitar, but my favorite thing is vocals. I like instruments in general. I’ll pick up and learn any instrument I can. I can play a bit of piano. I can play the bass or the drums a little bit.
Q: What other things are you involved in?
A: Mostly it’s music. My other biggest thing, and it’s not really the season for it, but I love hiking. Photography is one of my hobbies, and everything creative, I guess. I like making pottery, too. Drawing isn’t really my thing, but sculpting is. I’d like to learn glass blowing. It’s definitely something I’m going to get into when I can afford it.
Q: What’s after high school?
A: I’ve applied to college. I’m really, really trying to get into Western … My original thought was (to study) engineering, but math is where my ability falters. I’m not supreme at math. I’m going to try to do biochemistry or environmental science or scientific journalism. Basically, what I want to do is study the environment and study animals and go places and research. I can tell people what I want to do, but I have different majors that can fit what I want. I’m going to minor in music. I can concentrate in vocals and learn orchestral vocal training, which is what Freddie Mercury did, and he had one of the best voices.
Q: What would your advice be to other students?
A: Every assignment you do counts for graduating. You have to remember that. You don’t want to slack. It’s just four years. Learn the way that you need to learn, but just bite down and do it. And you don’t want to let your relationships affect your personal education … When you’re not feeling all those emotions, you’ll look back and you’ll feel regret. Yes, you’re feeling really horrible, but you’re not in the state of mind to make a decision as big as, ‘I’m going to give up on my education.’ I really feel that’s the biggest thing I had to learn.
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org