Senior Kaylyn Courtney’s power is in her passion


Photo courtesy of Courtney

“Chaotic is one, stressful…, but I’d say surprisingly pleasant overall…”, are the three words Arvada West senior Kaylyn Courtney uses to describe her high school journey. Over her high school career, Courtney has been a notable student at Arvada West, participating in a number of activities and achieving high academic standards. She is an active player of the girls Volleyball team at Arvada West, a part of band, and involved in further community activities such as National Honors Society and HOSA, a premedical program.

 ¨I think overall it came out as a net positive,¨ Courtney says fondly while reflecting upon her high school career.


Courtney’s passion for volleyball began in elementary school, when she attended Lincoln Academy Charter School.  She explains, “When I was in third grade, my mom started coaching the boys volleyball team at Lincoln Academy, and my brother was playing. I just started messing around on the sidelines and I had to take stats and stuff. It started to get fun really quickly.”

The curiosity she found along the sidelines soon began to grow into much more. In middle school, Courtney began playing for her school’s team, and she further seeked opportunities to be an active volleyball player through a number of clinics and Core Values, a volleyball club she joined in eighth grade. Her active participation at a young age, grew into a four year high school career with three years on varsity.

Courtney’s love for volleyball began in middle school through her family. Today, she plays at Arvada West  and a  volleyball club ‘Core Values’.”Photo courtesy of Courtney

“… it’s a nice release from school to go smash a volleyball”,she says.

 It is undeniable that her commitment to the sport has been a key to her skills today. However, there is much more to it. Today, Courtney has a clear, strong, and persistent mindset  that she credits as a key factor in her abilities. Similar to her proficient skills in volleyball, Courtney’s mindset has come from years of practice, and an overall growth in maturity. She reflects on a change in her mindset and says, “It’s taken a lot to grow into it. You kind of just have to go into volleyball and realize that mistakes are going to happen. Volleyball is a game of open mistakes.”

She further reflects and states with confidence, “I wasn’t very mature about it. You have to know that you are going to make some mistakes. You just have to make the best of the opportunities you do have. It is helpful to understand that, and be okay with messing up. There’s always going to be another point.”

Outside of all her school and club commitments, Courtney has also taken on leadership in the volleyball community. In her free time, she coaches a volleyball team for young girls. To her, this is something that she cherishes, and a time where she gets a first hand opportunity to work with future volleyball players. Courtney elaborates on her coaching process and says, “I’ve worked with a lot of younger girls, and seeing them and thinking about how I taught when I was that age…. Some girls need actual precise skills and help. Some literally just need encouragement. I can see in their eyes, they just don’t think that they are good enough… trying to see that perspective of their potential versus what they think is their potential, is really fun for me…I love that process and I love getting into their heads.”

Clearly, her passion for the sport can be seen through her active involvement. Of course, Courtney’s passion for volleyball stems from herself, but there have also been coaches and other role models who have pushed her to do her best. However,through the years, there is one person that comes to mind when Courtney reflects back on her coaches in volleyball. She says, “My club coach for several years, her name was Coach Cindy. She is a huge inspiration to me. She’s probably one of the sweetest human beings I’ve ever met. She grew up with tons of physical struggles, and immune disorders, so many things. She found volleyball and she loved it.“

Courtney further comments on Cindy’s importance to her and how she has inspired her journey with club volleyball, “She chose to make a club that was focused on people. A lot of volleyball clubs are focused on profit. She made one that was focused on helping girls become strong women. She is a huge inspiration to me because of that.”


Another passion Courtney has is her love for the band. At Arvada West, she has played the alto-saxophone for four years; an instrument that she has had a love for since elementary school. Today, she is a member of Arvada West’s Wind Ensemble.

“It is like the most satisfying thing ever to play an instrument with a big ensemble and especially when we do symphony orchestra pieces. It’s the coolest thing ever, because each person is making one little sound. When it combines it makes one beautiful piece. I think once I started doing more complexion pieces in high school, I found a place in it. You really feel like you have an important role even though you may be playing one random note that no one else is playing. It can completely change the sound of the music,” Courtney comments about her love for instrumental music

She adds, “I’ve loved it more and more the more that I have done it…”

It is clear that Courtney has a love for her role in band. However, Courtney says that one of the best parts about her involvement in the instrumental program at Arvada West, is the unique expression that music provides her with and a welcoming community that follows. “It is that symbiosis. It is what it means to be a part of a group, and what it means to play a role as an individual… It’s been a safe space to do something different. Music is so different from everything else in the school. It’s definitely been an escape all throughout high school.” 

Even in the early days, when she first started playing, she credits the community in the band as a continuous support and acknowledges how it has fostered her skills, “The people bring so much joy to it. Originally, I wasn’t good at the saxophone. I was awful until sophomore year when I started kicking things up. But because the people were so joyful and happy, their advice wasn’t something that ever put me down. I’ve only ever improved because of their atmosphere.”

The atmosphere in the community is the reason Courntey says she has been so dedicated to band over her four eyes of high school, since she ‘tends to put more effort into improving’ if she wants to be somewhere.Courtney says that the connections and relationships she has found in the band have never stunted her growth but instead have encouraged it. She explains, “Literally some of the funniest people I know are in band … The people are  just so funny, understanding, and welcoming. Both of the teachers I have had here Mr. Hansberry and Mr. Graff have just been some of the kindest people ever.”

Clubs and community:

At Arvada West, there are a number of different clubs and activities that a student can be involved in. Along with her commitment to volleyball and her love for band, Courntey has been a member of two clubs over her high school years : National Honors Society and HOSA.

As well as through her friends and academic achievements, Courtney has joined these two activities as a demonstration of seeking opportunities, and understanding other students at Arvada West. Through this, Courtney has had an opportunity to not only demonstrate what she is passionate about, but help bring other students’ passions to the limelight. She believes that annual events held at A-west such as Trick or Treat Street are a time where the power of a large community’s individual passions are shown. She says, “All clubs want to have a community outreach, but some clubs are too small to do it on their own. That is why I think Trick or Treat Street is really helpful with that…I think all of these clubs really want to share what they are passionate about. That’s why people made the club… People built this because they are passionate about it and they want to share it with other people, and I think that that is the coolest thing ever.”

 In particular, Courtney sees the strength in passion, especially through her involvement in HOSA. While Courtney never planned to go into the medical field, she joined the club freshman year through a friend. Her involvement in HOSA has acted as an opportunity to widen her view on the different communities at Arvada West. She comments on her experience in HOSA and says, “It was so cool to learn different things… I think learning those skills was super helpful for me as an athlete. It was a completely different side of the world that I don’t necessarily always look at, or that I will necessarily see as an engineer in the future. Just Having that different view and learning about the different professions there is really cool. I stayed in it for a bit, because I thought that I could have some contribution from a different mindset.”

Courtney also views her clubs, particularly NHS, as an opportunity to encourage and help others. NHS is centered around the four pillars of: service, character, scholarship and citizenship. While NHS is an active institute in the Arvada community covering a wide range of events and activities, Courtney’s main role over the years has pertained to the tutoring committee. “That to me, is similar to coaching. I can see that people don’t think that they can do something, but really they can. They just need someone to tell them that they can… Some people get in this mindset that they think they are stupid, but they are not correct in that. I think helping people through that, and helping build the program that helps people do that has been really important to me because it is something that helps all of the people here. If everyone is supporting each other through things like tutoring, it makes the school a much better environment.”

Reflection and life after high school:

With graduation coming up,there are a variety of reactions. Especially with the class of 2023, who’s high school experience was altered and differed from the traditional experience due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many seniors seem to be feeling as if their time in high school wasn’t the same as everyone else’s, and in particular Courtney admits that she went into high school feeling almost ‘blinded’, not knowing what to expect. However despite these reactions, Courtney says that she is ready to enter the world and begin creating her life. “Being a junior escort last year and sitting at that graduation, it felt like I think I should be done too. At the same time, I’m going to miss a lot of people…I’m going to miss a lot of teachers,that’s for sure. I’ve had some incredible teachers here. But then again, at the same time, I’m kind of done with high school. I feel like I hit a wall where I’m not learning much that is useful to me…”

As May 17 comes closer and closer, the class of 2023 at Arvada West will have a kick start into their new beginning away from their moments in high school. Courtney thinks back on her high school experience and voices what high school has taught her in the end. “My biggest takeaway is don’t get too stuck on people. Like you have to know you are doing the right thing. People go through things in high school, and people change, and they do stuff that isn’t okay just because they aren’t paying attention to other things besides themselves. It is hard if you get stuck on other people. It is important to know what’s right. And you just keep doing what is right,” she shares.

While Courtney cautions to ‘not get stuck on people’, there is one name that comes to mind when she thinks about the consistent and strong bond she has made with one friend, Kelly Moon. Courtney entails on their relationship and what Moon means to her,“ One friend I have had consistently since before high school is Kelly Moon. She’s the most loyal human being on the planet. The sweetest, funniest. I don’t know how I would be arriving at high school together. I have loads of inside jokes for her from middle school…. It’s so fun to have her next to me and know that if anyone says something even remotely close to an inside joke we have, we just start dying laughing. I love those moments where we are just laughing carefree, not even caring that the teacher is looking at us weird or that people don’t know why we are laughing so hard.”

She further adds,“I love having those moments with her, because she has been with me for a very long time. She’s been more loyal than anyone else,” Courtney adds.

In her free time, Courtney enjoys a number of activities. Here, she has painted the Colorado Mines symbol and she has committed there for college. Photo courtesy of Courtney.

  In the fall of 2023, Courtney will begin the next chapter in her life. When she was a kid her ideas of what she would do when she grew up were constantly changing. Although she will not end up going down the path of her childhood dreams to become a veterinarian, zoologist, horseback rider, or even her brief fifth grade dream of being an actress, Courtney has committed to Colorado School of Mines for Metallurgical and Materials Engineering. “Around fourth grade, I started centering on engineering. My dads an engineer, and my mom went to school for engineering. I just assumed that I would do that.…”, she explains.

Notefully, Courtney credits her middle school science teacher Larry Niemic, as her ultimate push toward being eager to learn more about the world around her and for growing her curiosity in science. Courtney reflects back to her time spent with Niemic and says, “He was just so funny and really fostered my love for science. I took every possible science elective I could. He really taught me to seek out learning for myself, and not just be dependent on what is  in the classroom. That is really why I am going into the S.T.E.M. field. The reason why I am doing my degree is because of things I started finding out during his electives when I was doing my Science News Assignments. He’s been huge on the path of my life, and my love for Science.”

 When she crosses the stage with a diploma in hand,and the class of 2023 has moved the tassels on their cap from right to left, Courtney’s life will transform into a life full of opportunity, and she will be provided with her moment to create the legacy she has always wanted. “I want to be someone that shares the blessing I’m given, and I want to be someone who teaches others to do the same. I want to be someone like Coach Cindy that takes her trials with kindness. I want my legacy to be that…”, she states with hope.

 With a heart and mind ready to take its own place in the world, it is evident that Courtney is destined for her own unique and individual impact. Only time will be able to tell how she will carry herself while creating her own enduring future, and take her part in the creation of a better world.