Humans of Parkway West 2021-22

The greatest struggle in my life would probably have to be losing my grandpa. I lost my grandpa this past July and there was a two-week span where, after my grandpa passed, a lot of other stuff happened too. I kind of bunkered down in my shell for a little bit there. I didn’t go out or see any of my friends much over those two weeks. When I did, all I thought about was the loss of my grandpa. Losing someone is hard. He was one of my biggest inspirations. My grandparents lived in Florida. Any chance they got to travel to Missouri, they would. I will always cherish those moments even more than I did in the moment. My grandpa loved to watch me and my sister play sports, especially [when I played] soccer. Whenever I would talk to him on the phone, he always told me to get out of my head because that was something I did a lot. [He] told me that I would be fine and to keep my head up. I looked up to him throughout my life. I never saw my grandpa without a smile on his face. [He was] always so funny and always loved to crack jokes. Knowing he won’t be there for my big milestones, like [when I] graduate high school, is something really difficult to deal with. He was one of the hardest workers. He served in the Vietnam war [and] then went back to Gloucester, Ohio where he worked in the coal mines for 15 years. Rain, shine, happy, upset, angry—he worked through it all to support my dad and aunt. My papa loved his family so much and showed it by goofing around all the time. I remember one time when I was seven and my papa and I were watching Nascar and my favorite driver had always been Kyle Bush. Papa said something like, ‘I hope Kyle spins out.’ Papa knew how angry I would get but always made it up with a hug. I aspire to be like him every day. My grandpa made himself who he was and always stayed true to himself. So I would say that [losing him] was really a struggle.” – Derrien Gatchel, 11

This project is carried out every year by our new journalists. Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York and just learning to interview and photograph, our new students take to the hallways to tell our school’s stories. Scroll through to meet the Humans of Parkway West.