2019 Simply Amazing Teen: Kyra Brockhausen
October 1, 2019 | by rebecca stewart
No one’s going to learn if they’re not involved.
Those words were spoken by 2019's Simply Amazing Teen, Kyra Brockhausen, senior at Billings Central Catholic High School, and they do a great job of summing up one of the marks that this remarkable young lady aims to leave on this world. Skilled in a variety of areas, it’s her heart and its desire to see no one left behind that unfailingly shines through. Simply Family Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Kyra and her mom, Marianne, before the start of the new school year when they shared the triumphs and challenges Kyra’s experienced, and the goals ahead for her final year of high school and beyond.
The youngest of three daughters, Kyra’s family has always described her as an old soul, which they somewhat attribute to primarily being around teenagers and adults throughout her childhood – big sisters were in high school and 8th grade when their baby sister arrived on the scene. Highly driven and motivated, she strives to be the best, with honesty and integrity guiding the way in everything she does (of which there is much!). Having much older siblings had its perks. Chief among them was certainly becoming an aunt at the age of 7. Though she’s close with her whole family, she sparkles as she shares that she’s closest with her nephews and nieces (of whom there are now four, ages 10, 9, 8, and 6). “They’re almost like siblings to me, but,” she laughs, “without the fighting.”
When asked to describe Kyra as a child, Marianne notes that people always said, “Oh, she’s so quiet and shy.” It’s not shyness, explains Mom, she’s reserved, always taking in her surroundings. Though Kyra has had a golf club in her hand since age 3, her love of music came first. In fact, the duo reflects, it’s a love that seems to have started in the womb. When Marianne and her husband found out they were expecting, Kurt took earphones and placed them on her stomach, and they played Beethoven, Mozart, and all kinds of classical pieces every day. Marianne recalls going to bed with the earphones on her stomach, and there were certain pieces that Kyra seemed to come to recognize. It was Beethoven’s Fifth, they believe, that would have her “jumping” in utero. On the outside, Kyra would start Musikgarten at 6 months old, and it grew from there, starting with piano. Now, Kyra plays a variety of instruments (she tries to learn a new one every summer), though the trumpet and piano are her heart instruments.
As seems par for the course with our Simply Amazing Teens, Kyra operates with a fully loaded schedule. To create balance among her many commitments, she determines to be focused on what she's doing in the moment, so she can be present with people outside of her activities. Outside of her school activities, Kyra has been an active volunteer both at St. Vincent Healthcare (where she works the front desk, delivering flowers and wheeling patients out when they've been discharged) and at First Tee as a mentor. This summer, she also worked at Lake Hills Golf Course as a “glorified janitor.” Maybe not the dream job, but a good experience, nonetheless, plus, you know, money for college.
An avid golfer, one of the goals for the newly named team captain’s senior year is to golf the State Tournament, placing in the top 3. On the golf course (and beyond), Kyra’s goal is to make sure that everyone is included, to ensure that everyone is getting their best experience – the second half of her belief that if someone's not involved, they're not going to learn. Part of this desire to create a positive and inclusive environment is a result of her own personal journey, and it also stems from the years she devoted to First Tee of Montana (now Life Skills FORE Montana Youth), first as a participant, then as a volunteer, starting the summer of 8th grade. Kyra credits her mentorship with this program to helping her learn to better communicate with her peers, as well as gaining a better understanding of how to help people, especially with golf.
Once golf season wraps up, it’s time to focus on Debate, where Kyra will serve as co-captain with her Public Forum partner. Though she started her debate career as a Lincoln-Douglas debater, she shifted gears to Public Forum her sophomore year. The draw to the Speech, Drama, and Debate team, explains Kyra, was a desire to develop better communication skills. Plus, she says, “I thought it’d be important in life to be able to talk in front of people without getting nervous.”
The constant running through every season of Kyra’s life is, of course, music. With all of the instruments that Kyra has learned to play in her lifetime, Marianne jokes that she’s essentially a one-man band. If that’s the case, then it’s simply one of many bands where Kyra adds her talents. This year in school she’ll play upright bass in the Orchestra, and she’ll play in the Band (and is Band President this year). Outside of school, it’s Honor Band (which includes musicians from all the A and B schools in the county), Billings Youth Orchestra, and Community Band. Oh, and she was selected to play trumpet in the Orchestra at All-State, and she’ll go to All-Nationals in Florida for music in November. That was an audition process with “Bride of the Waves” by Clarke.
Not only does she play, but she composes as well. Last year, Kyra composed a piece for her "little Dixie Land group" that included a trumpet, a clarinet, a euphonium, and a bass, which "isn't really typical, but we ended up going to State and getting a 1 and I got a 5 for my composing." Fun fact: in composing that piece, she got the rules changed with the MHSA, and now students are allowed to compose pieces to be played at the Festivals.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Kyra plans to go to college and double major in Music Performance and Music Education. She’s eyeing University of Arkansas, Bradley University in Illinois, CSU, or possibly the University of Montana. Having incredible band teachers her freshman, junior, and senior years have inspired Kyra to stress the educational component of her passion for music. She aspires to be an excellent support and genuinely help students as those teachers helped her because “I don’t want them to go through what I went through. [I want] to help kids get through stuff like that, rather than have to transfer schools like I had to.”
The path through high school has not always been a smooth one for Kyra. Her freshman and sophomore years were challenging, to say the least. From her perspective, from a social aspect, she felt like she never really fit in with her classmates. Things that she valued weren’t necessarily respected (and accepted) among her peers. She shares that she would eat lunch in her car alone. She experienced cyberbullying and endured name-calling and physical intimidation. And so, she did what we tell kids to do: she told trusted adults at her school (though not her parents, for a long time; she worried that would make it worse). Kyra didn't feel heard, in fact, she felt brushed off, "Oh, you're fine, you have friends!" In keeping it from her parents, she explains that "I'm pretty reserved when it comes to stuff like that because I'm always someone who thinks that there's someone in a worse situation, so I'm not gonna make a big deal out of mine.”
It was during this time that Kyra fell in love with musicals (and Hallmark Channel Christmas movies), and she would come home, practice her music, and watch musicals and movies with her mom. Marianne shares that she and Kurt had no idea what was going on. In fact, they wondered, as one weekend at home turned into another, is this how teens are now? They remembered worrying about their older daughters getting home in time for curfew in their high school years.
As things got worse for Kyra, she recalls being more emotional with her parents, until finally that last month at school she came home crying every day and looped her parents in on what had been happening. In addition to mounting anxiety and depression, Kyra had lost a teammate to suicide, who had been kind to her, and “she had thoughts like that going through her head,” shares Marianne. “When that started, we knew that was it, we were done. Thank goodness we recognized it and did something about it. She blossomed, obviously, in her new surroundings. It’s amazing the connections she’s made.”
Counselors told the family that Kyra needed to be removed from her surroundings, that she’d always have this “brand” hanging over her and she wouldn’t be able to be herself. In a twist of fate, they happened to see Kyra’s First Tee Golf Coach during the time they were determining the best place to transfer, and they were told, “You’ve gotta try Central!” With doubts over the expense, Kyra attended a Shadow Day at Central where they learned of scholarship opportunities and Kyra finally felt seen and cared for. "People knew my name!" Meaning, they actually made an effort to pronounce her name correctly.
Coming Through the Other Side
We asked Kyra and Marianne what words of wisdom they would offer now having made it through to the other side.
Marianne reveals that she and Kurt "felt like failures. Like, this was right in front of our faces, and we didn't see it." Yet, Kyra continued to succeed in all other areas, they assumed things were fine, that she needed to put herself out there more, but she wasn’t happy. “You never think that this will happen to your child, but we had to act,” adds Marianne.
Kyra says, first: Definitely talk to your parents about it.
- If it takes transferring schools, then that’s what it takes.
- Don’t stop doing the activities you love.
- Stay strong, it is going to get better. It did for me. (Remember, these middle and high school years don’t last forever).
It’s also important, says Kyra, to recognize the signs in others – staying aware. Her experiences have made her especially watchful, which have led to some confrontations when she’s seen students being treated poorly. She’s not afraid to step in and share what she’s been through, noting that “I think with a lot of people, it’s ignorance and just talking to them about it helps [them understand].” As a senior this year, it’s crucial to Kyra to be a leader to everyone around her – to establish those connections, “especially with the underclassmen, making sure they feel welcome. I remember how intimidated I was freshman and sophomore years, and I’d hate for them to experience that.”
In the end, 2019’s Simply Amazing Teen says, “Be yourself. Don’t care what other people think.”
Senior Year Goals:
- Top 3 for Golf
- 1st Chair for Honor Band
- Maintain grades above 95%
- Take top 3 in Debate
- Get at least 4 out of 5 on the AP English exam (which would earn college credit)
- Do Model UN
- Compose for District/State Music Festival groups again this year
- Establish better connections in Band, especially as Band President this year
- Finish college auditions by February, know where I’m going by April
- Get those scholarship applications done!