LYNNWOOD — Aurora Kerr is a student in the Edmonds School District’s eLearning Academy, where students mostly learn online and meet with teachers periodically at a classroom on the College Place Middle School campus. “Aurora is kind, caring and always welcoming to students in our student learning center,” Principal Katie Bjornstad said.
Question: When did you start taking online classes through the eLearning program?
Answer: I came in 10th grade; it was the second half of the year. I went to Mountlake Terrace High School the first half of my freshman year. Then I moved in with my grandma and went to Highline in Burien. We moved my grandma back here for assisted living. So I went to Meadowdale for a bit. Since the second half of that year I’ve been doing all online and some college classes (at nearby Edmonds Community College).
Q: Why online classes?
A: In seventh grade I got pain problems. My ribs would hurt all the time and they couldn’t find out what it was. My dad had scoliosis, and it turned out I have scoliosis, too. Last year they also finally diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. I would miss so many days of school. In 10th grade, I missed over a hundred days. My grades were so low. I knew I could do better than that. (With online classes) I don’t have to get up early or miss a lot of school days. It went so much better. I’m all done with my high school requirements now except for math.
Q: I imagine online learning isn’t for everybody?
A: I feel like it’s not hard if you keep on pace. It’s a super organized program and easy to get used to. It can be for anyone. It’s just like high school, except you can be at home eating food and stay in your pajamas and wake up at noon.
Q: What do you take at the college?
A: I’ve been doing Running Start since I was a junior. I started with an American Sign Language class and really like it. I started taking culinary arts classes senior year. But it was too hard with the pain. You have to stand all day. … I’m sad. I could do it, but I’d be pushing myself too far. You need to be physically healthy to be emotionally healthy.
So now I’m studying psychology… I think I want to go into counseling with drugs and alcohol abuse, either people struggling with that or their families. There’s a lot of that in the world. Parents see their children changing into people they never thought they could be.
Q: You’re also taking a sculpture class. Your instructor is having you create a bust out of yourself using wire?
A: It’s hard. … He also wants us to find litter on the ground and make it into art. I thought, well, if he likes garbage, he’s going to like my sculpture.
Q: You recently got back from a trip to Mexico. What brought you there?
A: I went with my boyfriend because his aunt was going to get remarried. She got married right on the beach. We had quesadillas and tacos and ribs — great food every day. We’d go in the water. It was amazing. I’ve never been to Mexico before. I loved it — I didn’t want to leave. It was 80 degrees. I came home and I was so cold.
I love traveling. I want to go to all 50 states, and more. Paris, mostly — basically all of Europe.
Q: Why Paris?
A: The whole reason I wanted to become a chef was from watching “Ratatouille” as a kid with my dad. I wanted to go to Paris after that, too.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I like to play basketball. I like to draw. I cook at home a lot. Crème brûlée (is a specialty). We have chickens, so I use fresh eggs. I feel I’ve perfected the recipe I got from my mom. I scrape vanilla bean in it instead of using vanilla extract. One of my friends one time said, “Why’d you put dirt in the crème brûlée?” I make really good cakes too. I’m not too good at making them pretty, but good-tasting cakes.
Q: How does it feel to be at this stage of high school? You’re in the home stretch.
A: I feel kind of relieved. I feel like it’s been a long haul since middle school, when I felt it never was going to get better. … I definitely feel from 17 to 18 I grew up a lot. I was almost 17 when I got in a car accident. After that, I didn’t take life for granted. I should do what I want to do in life before it’s my time to go and strive to reach my goals. It kind of woke me up.
Q: Do you have a mentor or someone who’s inspired you?
A: Definitely my mom. My mom is like my best friend. I’m definitely a mommy’s girl. She’s never said anything negative to me — it’s always, “You can do it. Never give up.” She puts these inspirational quotes on the bathroom mirror and my door.
Also, my math teacher, Kristi Riggin, has stuck with me for a long time with math. I feel I can pass math because of her. All the teachers here overall are so helpful and kind. They don’t give up on their students.
Q: You also look up to your older brother (now, anyway). Tell me about your names.
A: My brother’s name is Navarre, after a movie my mom watched called “Ladyhawke.” She named me Aurora because she always came home at dawn, and the Spanish word for “dawn” is “aurora.” Everybody’s like, “You’re named after the princess, right?” “The Northern Lights, right?” “The street, right?” (Rolls eyes.) Right. The street…
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 425-339-3432.