May 22, 2014 in Washington Voices

WV’s Hansen hones writing talent

Treva Lind
Tyler Tjomsland photoBuy this photo

Kyle Hansen plays trumpet with the West Valley High School band. He has won acclaim for his writing.
(Full-size photo)

While Kyle Hansen excels in academics and music, his writing captures attention. His prose has won acclaim nationally.

West Valley High School English teacher Kamiel Youseph said Hansen is a writer who strives to refine already well-written pieces. Hansen’s award-winning essay about a first turkey hunt showcases that ability.

“Even though I’ve never been hunting, as a reader, I felt I was in that experience right beside him,” Youseph said. “There was a hunger with him in terms of not just settling for an A, or just responding to the prompt, but focusing on pushing himself with his writing.”

Hansen has entered The Spokesman-Review’s youth outdoor writing contest for the past three years, and he took first place in both 2011 and 2012 among hundreds of entries. “Frozen Turkey,” his first piece describing a hunting trip with his father, advanced to win a second place in the national Outdoor Writers Association of America’s youth writing contest.

“I like writing – probably creative writing more than journalism writing,” Hansen said, with a nod again to improvement. “I’m still learning about the journalism style of writing – getting information across promptly.”

The win in writing about the turkey hunt will have to suffice; he never bagged the trophy bird. But, Hansen observes, “I probably wouldn’t have won the writing contest if I’d gotten the turkey.”

Hansen holds a number of interests beyond crafting words, though. He plays trumpet in West Valley’s wind ensemble and jazz band groups. He’s a competitor in Knowledge Bowl contests and enjoys computers, music, and long trail-riding trips on his bicycle.

He’s also tackled tough academics – Advanced Placement biology, honors English, AP English language and literature. Graduating with a 3.7 GPA, he’ll attend Western Washington University in Bellingham.

Like most teenagers, Hansen faced a few adjustments entering high school. Though he’s grown to 5-foot-4 as a senior, he worried about his small stature as a freshman. A heel-cord lengthening surgery also kept him on crutches much of that year.

“I was in a cast for quite a while,” he said. “I have cerebral palsy on my left side. Coming in at 4-foot-6 and 60 pounds, I expected a lot of issues with bullying. That hasn’t been a problem here at all. People are really nice.”

At West Valley, he tackles a busy schedule. “There haven’t been many problems in high school because of cerebral palsy, actually. It’s taken me a little longer to learn how to drive. I just got my license this year.”

Bicycle riding has kept him on the move as well, including one 54-mile trek this past summer. Hansen also stays busy with friends and family. His parents are Dan and Pam Hansen, and he has an older sister, Kelly.

Hansen first developed his love for writing in third grade, when his Pasadena Park Elementary teacher had each student do a yearlong refining of an essay. He said, “At the end of the year, we could look at the essays and see how they improved, and how our writing skills improved over that time. That really struck me.”

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