When his family moved from Houston to Spokane before his sophomore year of high school, Allen Eti wasn’t all that excited. He liked the big city.
Rather than send Eti into a retreat, the move has actually had the opposite effect on the Lewis and Clark High School senior.
“Initially I didn’t want to move, and honestly I prefer Texas in general,” he said, “but I feel like being in a new circumstance, where I didn’t necessarily want to be, taught me resilience.”
The move – which came about because his mother wanted to move to a research university, in this case Washington State University – wasn’t great at first. Eti started out at Ferris High School, and it wasn’t a good fit, he said.
In Houston he attended a private school, and the jump into public school was difficult for him. So, before his junior year he transferred to Lewis and Clark.
“I’m very happy at LC,” he said.
Given the chance to start over again at a new high school, Eti decided to try something new: He auditioned for the school’s production of the musical “Something Rotten.”
“Honestly I’ve never been too involved in the arts, and especially performing arts, so I wanted to try that out,” Eti said. “It was a pretty jarring experience for me, but it was also great. It forced me to come out of my comfort zone.”
The COVID-19 shutdown shuttered the performances of “Something Rotten,” so Eti never got to perform as Francis Flute in front of a large audience. But, he continues to sing.
“Hopefully so I don’t embarrass myself as badly as I did in the first show,” Eti said.
In just his two years at Lewis and Clark, Eti impressed counselor Kathy Blancher.
“He’s brilliant,” Blancher said. “He’s inquisitive (and has) lots of grit. Kids today have to have grit, but he has grit-plus.”
Eti is interested in programming, specifically game design. Currently he is developing a “pet breeding” game using the Roblox platform. It ties into his interests in biology and trait inheritance, he said.
He has previously developed other games, too, including some simulators and anime-based projects.
“For now it’s just an interesting hobby and something I do when I have extra time,” Eti said.
But Deborah Eti, Allen’s mother, said that he might be selling himself short just a bit.
“Allen doesn’t settle for less,” Deborah Eti said. “There’s a saying, ‘what is worth doing is worth doing well,’ and that exemplifies him. In everything, he tries to do an excellent job.”
Allen Eti said he plans to take a gap year after graduation, do some volunteer work and build more practical experience before going to college. He’s not sure where he wants to attend college just yet, but a larger city like Chicago would suit him well, he said.
“I like Spokane, but I really don’t like how quiet it is,” Eti said. “I want to get back to a big city.”
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