Herald Super Kid Avery Hohenstein attends Leaders in Learning High School in Monroe. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Out of hardship, actual roses for Leaders in Learning senior

MONROE — Avery Hohenstein finally found her groove at Leaders in Learning, an alternative program, after two years of school struggles. The budding singer now grooves with her band, set to perform its first live show Friday, which also happens to be her 19th birthday.

Question: So tell me about your high school experiences.

Answer: It’s been a disaster, really. I started out my freshman year at Monroe High. That lasted a year. I pretty much failed my way through it. By the end of the year, I gave up. There were home life situations. I ended up moving in with my mom in Lake Stevens. I went to Insight School of Washington (but due to registration issues) didn’t really earn any credits. I had two years of high school that were kind of lost.

Junior year I transferred here to Leaders in Learning. It was a completely new world. The teachers work with you one-on-one. … I’m a “super senior” now, but things have finally come together. I’ve learned more here in the last two years than I have in my entire schooling. I feel I can teach others better because of the hardships. … I’m really excited to be done — finally.

Q: So what are your plans for after high school?

A: So many things. Right now I’m singing in a band. … I kind of want to go that route, making my way through music. I’m an artsy person. I garden otherwise (with my mom through my uncle’s landscaping business), and make pretty good money. I also like cultural anthropology, and I could see myself doing something with that if I ever did go to college.

Q: Tell me about your band. What’s the name?

A: Lacy Gibbet. It’s a name of an ice climb in Index. … I’d say it’s like a mix between rock, and a blues type of feel.

Q: Your boyfriend, brother, stepbrother and stepdad made up the group. And you joined about a year ago?

A: We have a studio downstairs in our house, so they’re practicing all the time. They called me down one day, and from there we took off. I pulled in a friend, who plays piano. … We just started jamming like crazy. We all clicked.

Q: You just got done recording your first album?

A: We’re in the process of mastering now. And we’ll be performing our first show. It’s sort of our trial, for Hempfest. It’s exciting, a brand-new experience. I’ve never been one to be at the center of attention.

Q: All this while finishing school. What classes are you taking right now?

A: Right now I’m taking my fourth time through an art class. I’m doing cosmetics right now — painting my face and taking pictures. I did this whole outline and you can do things with cosmetics to look like you’re from another time in history.

I’m also doing journalism — I was excited about this; I get to be on the other side of things. I’m also doing things here and there for PE credits.

And I volunteer at Frank Wagner Elementary. I have a little sister, Meira, who’s in one of the fifth-grade classes. I hang out and help them with math. We don’t live in the same house, so to spend that time with her is really special. It’s a blessing in disguise, something that I didn’t see at the time, which I’m really thankful for.

Q: I imagine those young kids look up to you. Is there anyone you look up to?

A: I can think of so many people. I look up to my mom a lot. She’s the strongest woman I know. She’s been through so many things and still been able to keep it together. She’s had our backs, all the way through.

My uncle is another person I look up to. They grew up in a really crazy home. They didn’t get past eighth grade. (It’s inspiring to see him) come out on top — and without any excuses … because he didn’t have a choice.

Q: What advice do you have for a teen just starting high school?

A: I feel like all the cliches you hear are true. Like to stop and smell the roses.

Q: You have a story to go with that one. Can you share it?

A: My mom and I were out on a gardening bid in Kirkland, and I was dead tired. … I started working around my usual place, attempting to get into my place of zen, right as this rose bush stabbed the back of my pants. Instinctively, I whipped around to look at the damage and smacked my face into the rose itself. I remember right there, my first response was to smell the rose as it was stuffed into my face.

Immediately after, I laughed at myself for this situation because it just showed how much we react so quickly to everything, without even thinking. And even though some things get trying and tiresome, it changed my perspective right there to just stop and slow myself. To quite literally stop and smell the roses. To laugh and to make light of all things. It was a seriously perfect slap into reality.

Life can seriously be a series of obstacles, but nothing’s better than just stopping to take it all in. All the smells, colors and views.

Melissa Slager: mslager@heraldnet.com, 425-339-3432.

If you go

What: Lacy Gibbet plays its first live show as a six-person band

When: Some time between 7 p.m. and 12 a.m. Friday

Where: Tony V’s Garage, 1716 Hewitt Ave., Everett

Cost: $10

More info: www.facebook.com/lacygibbet.official

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