Spotlight on Hidden Talents at RHS

The RHS community is replete with visual artists, musicians, dancers, athletes, actors, and writers. While some choose to share their passions, others harbor talents and hobbies which are relatively hidden. Featured here are three people whose “hidden” passions range all the way from knitting to skydiving.

James Harkins, Freshman: Technology

Emily: How did you first begin working with computers?

James: I’ve done it ever since I remember, really. I built my first computer at 11, but now I’ve re-purposed it as a home media center.

E: What is your favorite project that you have completed thus far?

J: My favorite project was probably my 3-D printer, which I built around a year ago. There’s nothing like having an idea, modeling it, and seeing it come to life and be tangible.

E: Do you see yourself in a tech-based career in the future?

J: Definitely. I don’t know exactly what it will be yet. It could be in audio engineering, speaker design, audio compact design, computer programming, or PCB design.

E: Is there an event or a person who initially made you interested in technology?

J: I think my dad. He would always let me take things apart and investigate. When I was little, I built an IKEA cabinet with a toy screwdriver. That environment allowed me to explore and grow.

E: What advice do you have for those who may be interested in technology and are looking for a way to start learning?

J: There’s a big problem right now with the Right to Repair legislation. A key part to learning is doing. The best advice I can give is don’t be afraid to break things.

Jordan Afromsky, Senior: Knitting

Emily: Knitting isn’t the kind of activity you might expect someone our age to do, what got you into knitting in the first place?

Jordan: Honestly, I was bored. It’s very functional, and I did it with my mom, so it was a nice way to spend some time together.

E: What do you like about the act of knitting?

J: It’s precise, creative, and a great pastime–especially while doing other things. I’m a big TV and knitting fan.

E: What kind of things do you knit?

J: I typically knit scarves. I tried a hat once, but it didn’t work out so well. I make a lot of things for my family.

E: What are your knitting needles of choice? Do you have any favorite stitches?

J: I am a bamboo kind of girl. I think the yarn tends to slip on aluminum needles. My favorite stitches are the Cable Knit stitch and the Fisherman’s Rib stitch.

E: Do you have any advice for those who may be interested in knitting but aren’t sure how to begin?

J: It isn’t as hard as you might initially think, once you get used to it you fall into a rhythm. I learned on YouTube. My favorite knitting channel is HappyBerry Knitting. Just remember, don’t give in to the initial frustration of messing up on a stitch. Don’t be afraid to unwind and restart.

Mr. Van Hise, Teacher: Skydiving

Emily: Skydiving is a unique activity that most would not be fond of. How did you initially get into it and what was your first experience like?

Mr. Van Hise: I first did it as a celebration of graduating high school with a few friends when we all turned 18. Then, about 15 years later, after I had been working, I found a place in New York where you could take a ground class for a day, go through training jumps over the course of a couple of months, and then get certified.

E: Do you have a favorite moment?

VH: So, usually every summer my dad and my brother come to the drop zone and we all go on a jump together. They do a tandem jump, so they’re strapped to someone, but we all go up on a plane together and we all go down together. That used to be an annual tradition.

E: Do you have any skydiving horror stories?

VH: Luckily no. I never got injured. The worst I had was landing a half-mile away from where I was supposed to, but I had to trek through the woods to get back and ended up walking myself in circles for two hours or so. Finally, I found a road and someone saw me with all my equipment, took pity on me, and drove me back to the drop zone.

E: What do you enjoy most about skydiving?

VH: I like the freedom of it – being out there in mid-air, nothing around you for miles. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s a little terrifying at first, but you get used to it. Like with anything else, once you focus on exactly what you’re supposed to be doing out in the air it sort of becomes second-nature. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s relaxing in a way.

E: Did you stop? If so, why?

VH: I’ve currently stopped. I had some ear issues for a while from all the pressure changes. I’m hoping to get back into it at some point, but I’m out of practice so I’ll need to get re-certified and probably go to one of those indoor wind tunnels too to get some practice. I did 198 jumps total, so I haven’t made it up to 200 yet and would at least like to finish it out.

E: What advice do you have for those who might want to give it a try?

VH: Do some research on where you want to go, but most places are usually pretty safe. I’d say, if you’re interested, go for it. It’s relatively safe, and it’s definitely something I think people should try to do at least once. 

Emily Ertle
staff writer

Graphic: Nicole Kye

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