NASELLE Airi Kondo had been accepted to the American Academy of Ballet in New York City and the Naselle High School senior says, That was an experience and opportunity I am truly grateful for. I have been dancing since I was 13 and ballet has become my main focus, a true passion I have had growing up. It is an escape, a place where I have peace of mind.
But last year Kondo suffered two ruptured discs in her back and suddenly her life changed. She says, My passion and dreams became my enemy and fear. After my surgery and the months of recovery I feel I have found who I really am. I became a friend who understands others and not just a ballerina. When I see a ballet I feel like an empty drum, but Ive learned that there is so much more to life than dancing.
She says, I am positive that someday in the near future, I will dress into my black leotard and satin pointed shoes and dance in a place that feels like home, but at the moment I am trying to pursue other adventures in my lifes journey.
Kondo was born in Pasadena, Calif., and moved to Naselle in the third grade. She has been in the Running Start program the past two years and will earn an Associates degree at Clatsop College, as well as her diploma from NHS. Airi is the daughter of Viviana Kondo-Matthews and Kyle Matthews.
She has taken piano lessons for 10 years and is in the drama and outdoor clubs at NHS and at Clatsop she is very involved with the student newspaper, The Bandit. I wrote many articles on local events and participated in the art club at Clatsop, focusing on photography.
Kondo has also worked with Jess Maclay from Clatsop Community Action. I have become very passionate about bringing justice to the homeless, neglected children, and abused women through my work with her. Helping others less fortunate is an honorable thing to do.
The introspective Kondos most prized possession is her education. Education gives you knowledge of the world, cultural awareness, and the tools to have a voice in society. She says her parents are her inspiration. They are the most giving, selfless, loving people I know. When I was a child, they not only tucked me in bed and hauled me to art class, ballet, and music lessons; they also gave me the tools and skills that are essential in life. My mother always had a listening ear and picked me up with her optimistic attitude when I needed it the most.
Kondo adds, My father, a man of few words, showed me that you can get far with courage and determination. While playing a game of chess, he explained to me how the game was like life you always have to be one step ahead. My little brother, Owen, also has made a huge impact in my life. Looking into his big, brown eyes, you can tell he has all the courage and kindness in the world. He stands up for what he believes.
Kondo says of her community and school, In Naselle we are so intertwined and respectful to each other. We give each other energy and the support we need to keep our momentum and motivation rolling. Its the little moments I remember the most about high school the confused glances while the teacher is lecturing, the laughter in class, or the silly jokes at the lunch table.
Kondo will attend University of Washington and would like to go to New York University for her post-graduate work.
Hold onto your dreams, never settle for less, be courageous and always believe in yourself. Exist as you are, because that is enough. Oh, and have some fun be spontaneous, release your inner free-bird, and have a desire for wanderlust and a need for adventure, is Kondos advice to the students at Naselle.