Keeping it cool on deadline

Kristen Lee is all smiles as she meets with fellow summer campers in the Irving College lounge area at Stony Brook University. The incoming senior at The Wheatley School in Old Westbury keeps a hectic schedule and a report card filled with AP classes. Although she leads such a busy life, Kristen keeps her stress level lower than the norm – or how she would say it: “Chill.”

Kristen Lee

Kristen Lee / Photo by Wasim Ahmad

As the new editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, The Wildcat, she can’t wait to put her own set of keys into the newspaper office on her first day of senior year. “It’s awesome,” said Kristen, 16. “I just inherited my own 7×7 locker and the keys to the office.” These luxuries did not come unearned. In Kristen’s first year of high school, which at the Wheatley School is 8th grade, she was the go-to writer. As a freshman, Kristen was the paper’s survey coordinator, which she called “The worst possible job on the paper.” Sophomore and junior year she was the editor to the entertainment section and now she is charge of all of them. Her new power gives her the ability to look down and laugh at the students who currently hold her past positions, but she decides to comfort them. “I can tell them, ‘Don’t worry, you can go up from here’,” Kristen said, “That job gave me a lot of opportunities.”

Excitement builds in Kristen’s voice as she speaks about her new position on the paper. She plans on keeping Wildcat traditions so that incoming students are exposed to the same friendly environment she experienced during the past four years. “We play something called the Wikepedia game where there’s a link on the home page that sends you to a random Wikepedia article. You keep clicking on links in the article until you find the topic we picked at the beginning of the game.” It is this type of competitive but quirky atmosphere that keeps the newspaper going, she said.

Kristen’s older sister Allison pushed her to join the newspaper because she recognized the talent Kristen withheld. “At first I was too shy to ask to help but I gradually became more social,” Kristen said.

As Kristen discussed her extra-curricular activities, she exuded passion for each of them. She is involved in the International Cultural Unity program at her school. Each year she helps organize a festival of culture which includes a talent show, luncheon and a bunch of games. The leftovers from the dishes are donated to a local soup kitchen. Kristen was also the corresponding secretary for the Tri-M Music Society as well as a member of the Honor Society. “I just like to keep myself busy so I don’t feel guilty,” says Kristen.

When Kristen is not playing the violin or staying after school for a club, you can find her being a summer volunteer as a clerk at  St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn where she is exposed to all the different departments.

Kristen also pushes herself academically. She plans on taking AP Government/Economics, AP Literature, AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP French as well as participating in the orchestra and Honor String. Although it is her senior year and many students decide to take it easy, Kristen sees things differently. “It is important to take advantage of these opportunities because it is my last chance to take tough classes that are basically free,” she said.

When Kristen isn’t overwhelmed with schoolwork and extra-curriculars, you can find her at a friend’s house or shopping her troubles away at Roosevelt Field mall. She also loves to travel and has been to Korea, Spain, Italy and France and said she intends on adding to the list.

“I just want to be happy,” Kristen said. She has yet to decide on her college major, but no matter where life takes her, she hopes that her writing abilities will stay sharp. “Hopefully I have a job that even if it isn’t in journalism, I can still find time to write.”