Humans of HHS

Some of you may be aware of Brandon Stanton’s storytelling phenomenon on various media outlets–Humans of New York. His success is widely due to its organic, grassroots appeal wherein strangers get to meet strangers–a web of experiences that readers relate to and from which they gain meaning. We at the Herald were inspired by Brandon Stanton and decided we want to recreate his idea using the sea of students we are surrounded by. At the beginning of any school year, we all are essentially strangers. But the Herald will hopefully change that as we seek to diversify our readership and allow our school to feel connected by sharing unique stories and experiences along the way. Our interpretation is Humans of HHS. #HofHHS

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"[the Gaming Academy] started in freshman year–like, when I was in freshman year. So I've been with it since it started, basically. I was one of the first cohorts, and I really enjoyed it. Especially in the beginning because it's high school, and I came from a different kind of school. I came here and I didn't really know anyone. I had a couple friends, but other than that, I just kind of felt really isolated. I was scared, 'cause there were so many people, so many new faces and all that. And…what the Gaming Academy did–and still does–they kind of put you in a class with the same people, almost for three years. You're basically all taking the same class together, so you get to form stronger friendships than you normally would. You get to feel kind of safe, in a way. Not only do you get to do things that you want to do–like pertaining to what you want to do for the future, obviously 'cause you signed up for the Gaming Academy–but you also get a community who also loves to do those same things. So it's not just you in a class full of people you don't know.” [Xander Paeplow, senior] #HofHHS

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(3 of 3) "The situation, for one, made me laugh and broke the ice, and the entire experience. You’re talking about small kids, and the reality was that he was just a funny kid and he had been through so much, but he was hilarious and he still had a dream just like any other kid. And that is actually the moment I decided I wanted to be a teacher. Because I realized that all kids have dreams. All kids, it doesn’t matter what their lives are like, have these dreams, and they want to do certain things and they want to go somewhere, and they just need someone to listen to their dreams. And that’s why I’m a teacher. All because of a Somali kid who wanted to be a pirate.” [Ms. Yates, English Teacher] #HofHHS

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(2 of 3) "I was sitting there and I was talking to them about geography, and we were having trouble kind of getting into it. So I was like, okay, well I’ll figure out who these kids are, they don’t know me, I don’t know them. So I asked them ‘what do you guys want to do when you grow up?’ And this little boy said, ‘I want to be a pirate.’ And this is the same summer that "Captain Phillips" had come out with Tom Hanks, so I’m sitting there going ‘Oh my gosh, a Somali child wants to be a pirate… How am I supposed to respond to this?’ And he kept saying ‘I wanna be a pirate, I wanna be a pirate!’ And I kept looking at him thinking, ‘you can’t be a pirate! I feel like I should nip this in the butt.’ But finally, because he realized I was having trouble understanding him, got up and zoomed around the room with his hands out going ‘vvrruuuuuuu you know like a pi-rot, you fly.’ And we realized that it was because he couldn’t pronounce the difference between ‘L’ and ‘R’ and he was really saying he wanted to be a pilot." [Ms. Yates, English Teacher] #HofHHS

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(1 of 3) “A few years ago I did not want to be a teacher, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was kinda out there, floating around. I was even in graduate school and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I was in a counseling program and I didn’t even want to be a counselor. I had the opportunity to go back to Kenya, I grew up there, and do some work with NGO’s. But by the end of the summer I ended up working, randomly, with a Somali Refugee school. And this was actually the exact same year that the Somali famine got really, really bad. And so there were a ton of refugees just flooding into Nairobi. I worked in this school and we would go in and it would be like tons of students just crammed into this room and they didn’t have textbooks, they didn’t have anything, and I was told to teach them Kiswahili, and I don’t know Kiswahili. They didn’t really know Kiswahili. So, it was kinda useless. We decided, instead, to teach them geography." [Ms. Yates, English Teacher] #HofHHS (p.s. the shoes are from Kenya)

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(3 of 3) “Since the type of tumor I had developed in utero, the embryonic cells are all over my body, so my tumor could grow back anywhere. I started getting full body MRI’s every three months after my first surgery. I lay in the tube staring at the top of it for a really long time and all I do is think, “What if it’s back.” It is the worst thing ever. And I don’t get the results until a couple days later. This experience has made me a lot stronger. If I could, I would tell my past self that it does get better and eventually you heal. There will be times when you think it's never going to change but you wake up one day and it does. Even though at the time, it feels like you’re never going to heal. After my first surgery, I was in and out of the hospital for months. Then eventually I had my second surgery and I continued to go there. My life was in and out of the hospital that it's made me fearful of that place. At the time, there was no getting better. But it does.” [Kayla Clark, senior] #HofHHS

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(1 of 3) “When I was 14, I was diagnosed with a sacrococcygeal teratoma, which is a tumor that forms in utero. Mine grew on the inside of my tailbone instead of outside, so my doctor never diagnosed it. It was growing on my tailbone for fourteen years until they found it. Before that, I had been suffering from really bad migraines and one night, I woke up and was rushed to the hospital for abdominal pain. The doctors found that my tumor had ruptured my rectum. The next day, November 20, they had to do emergency surgery to remove the tumor. When they did, the doctors removed my entire tailbone as well. I basically reverted back to being a baby and had to learn how to walk again. It was miserable." [Kayla Clark, senior] #HofHHS

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