Alumni Focus: Sarah Jane Kline

In the Fall/Winter 2016 edition of Scribe, ESK features several alumni who are doing great things in the Knoxville community and beyond. We will bring those same stories to the blog here at Sarah Jane Kline is currently a senior at Asheville School in Asheville, N.C. She graduated from ESK in 2013. 


1. How did your time at ESK prepare you for high school?

There are a lot of things that ESK taught me before going into high school. The first thing I noticed I was thankful for about ESK was knowing how to write an analytical paper which includes the elements and structures for paragraphs, MLA formatting, and citing sources. I was very thankful that Mrs. Lancaster had already taught us that before freshman year, for a few of my classmates had to learn that for that first time while I had already been exposed to it. This, in turn, allowed me to grow as a writer faster and more efficiently. On a broader scale, I think playing sports at ESK helped me a lot in finding friends at Asheville School. Going to varsity volleyball preseason as a freshman was scary, but because I knew how to work and play with others, I was able to bond quickly with them. This made the transition from middle school to high school a little easier for me socially.


2. Was there a teacher (or can you think of a story) that captures what makes ESK special?

It was seventh grade year, and I had been dreaming of basketball season. Early in the season we travelled downtown to First Lutheran School for a game. We warmed up and began the game. After a made shot by Madison Howell, who played position 4, we were transitioning to defense. Closing out on the other team’s point guard, I ran close to her to pressure the ball; she tried to run around me lowering her shoulder right into me, and we collided. We had hit each other so hard I heard my collarbone snap. I looked over at Megan Jenkins (my coach at the time) and immediately signaled to her that I needed to come out. I knew something was wrong with my arm. I couldn’t move it. My dad drove me to the ER that night with my brother riding in the back. After meeting with the doctor, it was determined broken. My dad an brother attempted to lift my spirits with trivial “dad jokes” like they normally do, but nothing was going to change my mood on that night. Then Mrs. Jenkins walks into the room; she had come to check on me. That is what makes ESK special. The fact that my teacher, at 9 o’clock at night, came to the Emergency Room to check on her player. That is care, dedication, and humanity which is something that ESK cultivates everyday on and off of campus. Too often, especially in our ever-violent society, youths are so impressionable to the things happening around them that they succumb to the societal movements of dehumanization and self-orientation. ESK is special because it goes against these popular movements to promote that humans are stronger in a community, and mutual respect is necessary in order for these communities to healthily progress.


3. What has been the most rewarding part of your time at Asheville School?

The most rewarding part of my Asheville School career has probably been being able to meet so many different people. I feel much more reward in friending somebody than in something trivial for example, a sports win. One of the most rewarding things is knowing that I have opened myself up to different people and adventures, and knowing that I have learned from those, is satisfactory beyond belief. People from all over the world attend Asheville School. They represent many different socio-economic, religious, racial, and geographic backgrounds that come together to create an, in a way, intimidating, but diverse, community. My reward has been reaching out to those people, getting to know them, connecting with them, hearing their stories, and learning about them and their values, beliefs, and cultures. These adventures and people have educated me in a way that a textbook cannot, and that is what is rewarding. Knowing that I did not waste that opportunity to learn by experiencing something so different is an award that will stay with me longer than a plaque on the wall.


4. What role, if any, did ESK play in helping you make the decision to attend Asheville School?

I mostly made this decision on my own. The only role that ESK really played in that was supporting me and my ambitious goals. They never tried to question me or harass me, but instead, helped me come to a healthy decision through conversation and positive reinforcement. Essentially, ESK had my back along with my parents and friends. Through that support, I think that ESK made me confident enough in myself to feel as if I could do it, to feel as if this goal was something that I could accomplish and succeed in. ESK didn’t waiver in support of me, and therefore, it helped me to more easily resist wavering in my decision making process.


5. What made you pursue being a prefect? What has that experience taught you?

Being a prefect is something that was not really on my mind freshman year. I became a proctor my junior year and then realized that I like being a leader and advocate. Yes, prefects enforce the school rules. Yes, being the co-head prefect I am the student chair of the Conduct Council and that isn’t always easy. It just isn’t. But being a prefect, for me, was more an initiative to make this campus as great as it can be. I thought to myself: how can I be an effective leader? And then realized people had told me in order to lead, you have to know where you want to go. I knew where I wanted to go. I wanted to be an advocate for the students who need me. The students who need an approachable person who will listen to them and their concerns, troubles, and triumphs. The students who need a friend. I did it to push myself to be a role model. I took on this position because I feel like this school attempts to create something great every single way. I believe that this school has potential to even change the lives of some of it’s students and I want to be a part of that. I want to be a leader that is leading people towards the threshold to a higher life through mutual respect, open dialog, integrity, compassion, and many other things. To me, that is what being a prefect is all about.


6. Can you talk about the leadership skills you developed at the captain of the volleyball team?

This is a hard question because I have to be blunt. Being a captain is hard. You have to be the role model of the team. You have to always have it together, and you cannot let your attitude effect the other members of your team. You have to instill in them to play with emotion and not on it which is really difficult to do when you are on a team with fifteen teenage girls. It is hard being a competitive, experienced athlete and having girls thrown into games who are not ready, but you cannot underestimate the ability of teenage girls to adapt. It is difficult when players are not performing at a level they need to be in order to beat a team. That is frustrating anywhere, but as a captain I have learned to embrace mistakes, to accept them, and learn from them. This positive reinforcement amongst teammates is something that can be applied anywhere. The motto “team over self” is everything. One person cannot do it all, and this attitude is what being the captain has taught me.


7. What are your plans for after high school?

As of right now, I do not have any set plans for after high school because I haven’t yet been accepted to any colleges. Hopefully, that will turn out in my favor come the spring, and i will be on track to attend some college and do great things. That is the goal. But, in reality, I am still uncertain of my plans. They are up in the air. I am aware that it is a luxury for me to be able to have my plans “up in the air” to be able to “not know what I want to do”, so I don’t want to rush it. I want to make sure I am testing the waters and figuring out what I like so that this luxury is not something that is wasted. I want to make sure that what I dedicate my life to is something that I am passionate about and will be able to share with others. I am always torn between writing and science. The idea of going into pre-med excites me, but I am scared of giving up my creative expression through writing.