Kathryn O’Connor, an English teacher at Freeman High School, frequently likes to refer to her student Tristan Albrecht as an “old soul.”
Albrecht, 17, is mature for his age. The senior, who will attend Western Washington University next year, has already decided on his major – English with a literature focus. And he wants to be an English teacher.
“That’s something that we should have seen coming but we really didn’t,” said Nathan Albrecht, Tristan’s father. “We didn’t really identify that as something he would pursue or get his career in … it seemed like a year ago, he just figured it out … it’s like a light bulb went on for (my wife and me), like ‘Oh, that sounds perfect for you.’ ”
And when he found out his son was writing his own fantasy novel when he was a freshman, he thought it was nothing but a flash in the pan. But Tristan Albrecht stuck with it and has a 290-page rough draft finished. After reading snippets of Tristan’s work, Nathan Albrecht was impressed.
“He started writing as a freshman, but it doesn’t read like a preteen or a teenager wrote it,” he said. “It reads like a real book, I thought.”
Putting his thirst for literature into practice hasn’t surprised O’Connor, who says Tristan Albrecht grasped the content in her classes at a higher level than other students. When O’Connor assigned her AP English class “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, she was in awe of how well he understood the book and how fiction could reveal truth, something his other classmates couldn’t quite comprehend.
“He could just take those chapters and he just dove deeper and deeper,” O’Connor said. “That’s when you knew you had a special learner.”
O’Connor says WWU – where she completed her undergraduate degree – will be a perfect fit for Albrecht.
But the decision wasn’t a no-brainer for him. The prospect of attending Eastern Washington University where his 19-year-old brother Damon is a student, and staying close to home, was hard to pass up.
Tristan switched from East Valley High School to Freeman his sophomore year, leaving a place he called home his whole life. But moving to his home in Valleyford was beneficial in the long run for Albrecht, his father said.
“(Moving) for him has made him super willing to go out of his comfort zone,” Nathan Albrecht said. “Had he not done that, he would have been comfortable the whole time.”
And even though he knows EWU is within his comfort zone, branching out doesn’t scare Tristan Albrecht anymore.
“I’ve always stuck with what was comfortable and not doing anything extraordinary,” he said. “In the future I want to try bigger things. I want to see if I can become a writer full time and I want to move fairly far away for college and have more experiences.”
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