Olathe Student Selected To Speak at KC Storytellers Exhibition


Tyler Burkett, Writer

Junior Ashleigh Strom was recently chosen to be one of 30 teens to tell her story at the KC Storytellers Exhibition on April 4 at the Plaza Library in downtown Kansas City.

“KC Storytellers is 30 people around the Kansas City area who are selected to tell their stories,” Strom said. “They get a chance to explain how they grew up.”

Strom was one of two students chosen to represent West at the exhibition. Going with her is junior Maya Wood who is enrolled in Peter Mishler’s AP Langauge and Composition class along with Strom.

“In AP Lang, Mishler gave us an open-ended question and made it about ourselves,” Strom said. “We had three approaches and the third approach was a personal story, and I chose body image and statistics with that and I said it was the most dangerous idea.”

Strom wrote an essay on her personal experiences that prompted Mishler to recommend that she apply for the event.

“Mishler said it was really moving and put me in a group chat with a few other students,” Strom said. “Mishler said ‘you guys should try this’ and I applied for it.”

Mishler heard about the exhibition from LuAnn Fox, an English teacher who works at Olathe Northwest, and wanted his students to be able to take part in this opportunity.

The [stories] that have interested me most have been the ones that have allowed marginalized or underrepresented groups to speak,” Mishler said. “The more stories we hear that represent us all the more likely we are to be able to humanize those whose experiences are different from our own.”

Along with her own personal story, Strom touched on other stories she saw come from other students who contributed to the exhibition previously.

“I’ve seen many stories from how people grow up whether it be from downtown or in the suburbs,” Strom said. “ It’s just a lot about how they grew up in their culture and their family and what they struggled with and comparing it to other situations.”

Mishler also touched on the bravery that it takes for anyone, not just these students, to want to tell their story to a group of relative strangers.

“My life is sincerely richer for having branched-out from the small town I was born in,” Mishler said. “And I hope that Ashleigh and Maya have similar experiences.”