Katherine Ford

Imagine a favorite scent–one that brings you feelings of joy, tranquility, and safety. One that moves you. One that heals you. One that makes you whole. 

Does it smell like this? 

“I can’t place or name the scent, but it feels like a drawn out and tender hug right after you finish crying on someone’s shoulder, when you finally feel like you're not alone anymore.”

Katherine Ford wrote that description. Yes, Katherine is a senior and thus qualifies for a senior feature. By age, Katherine would technically be a junior in high school, but Katherine has worked very hard since she was a freshman to graduate early. Initially she wanted to participate in a Fort Hays State University program that appeals to students who have an interest in math and science. Katherine decided that she wasn’t ready to move out as a junior in high school–students live on the FHSU campus as part of the program–and she doesn’t regret the decision to stay and graduate from Solomon High School. Staying here has allowed Katherine to truly come into her own. 

“I’ve come out of my shell since then and it only makes me happier,” she says. 

She’s incredibly complex, interesting, and funny. Katherine’s warm and generous and bitingly sarcastic. She doesn’t want to be remembered as the “smart” girl who graduated from high school in three years. Katherine wants to be seen for who she is–someone who is living for herself. 

“I hope the little frosh see me and think ‘it’s okay to be myself and it’s okay to come out of my shell,’” she says. “I hope they see in me my confidence in myself and that helps them to become confident too.”

Katherine has a very distinct look and it’s one that takes a certain degree of confidence to pull off. She wears t-shirts from heavy metal bands, ripped jeans, combat boots, and flannel shirts. She tends to juxtapose her grungy, punk look, with an array of cutesy earrings. It’s not uncommon for Katherine to adorn her ears with earrings shaped like bumblebees, mushrooms, or lollipops. She is quirky enough to pull off these dichotomies. 

Katherine’s interests are as eclectic as her aesthetic. Katherine has participated in Scholars’ Bowl, jazz band, concert band, bowling, marching band, pep band, art, cheerleading, and National Honor Society. Her love for music, literature, and art is accompanied by her ability to think logically and sequentially. Her balance of creativity and rationality make her well suited to industrial engineering, which is the career she has wanted to pursue since she was young. In addition to engineering, Katherine plans to study music in college. She’s a multi-instrumentalist who primarily plays the trumpet and guitar, and some of her proudest accomplishments have been related to music. 

“I always feel very accomplished and I am very proud of myself when I have a concert because I have to learn a lot,” said Katherine, who has even painted her own guitar. “This year I am performing seven pieces and I learned seven pieces of music. I’ve done that every year I’ve been in high school and it makes me feel accomplished. And I get to do it with my friends.”

Katherine’s musical gifts are evident to many. 

“She is super musically talented and gifted,” said Caleb Smith, Solomon High School band director. “She has the ability to bring smiles to people’s faces when she’s playing.”  

With some many talents, Katherine used to find herself pulled in many different directions, but she has learned with time that “some things are not worth the effort or stress,” and it’s important to figure out what is worth putting effort into. 

“Don’t give up your mental health for grades,” she advises. “And don’t do things that you don’t want to do.” 

Katherine has a knack for understanding that simplicity can be powerful. She understands that often the most seemingly simplistic adages or phrases can carry more weight than Atlas. This makes her a formidable writer, wise beyond her 16 years, and someone whose talents are seemingly boundless. And Katherine is just getting started. 

“I want to see myself grow into the person I can be,” Katherine says. “I think it will make me more proud of myself because it’s not an easy thing to do.”

Photos by Katherine Ford and Luka Hayes

Editing by Maya Newcomer and Lacie McLaughlin