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Photo by Mike Leiby, White Mountain Independent
Photo by Mike Leiby, White Mountain Independent

Sequoia Village third grader makes it to Optimist finals in Tucson

Posted On: 2017-05-09 09:20 AM
From White Mountain Independent...

LINDEN — What can a 9-year-old boy teach us about optimism?

A lot.

Sequoia Village Charter School third-grade student Kyson Kulish is the winner of the Optimist Club of the White Mountains 2017 oratorical contest.

His mother, Beth, said he is following in his sister Mikenzie's footsteps, who twice competed in the event and made it to district finals.

She is a fifth-grader at Sequoia Village.

Kyson's speech used the theme, "What the World Gains from Optimism."

He was an Arizona district finalist as well and competed against students from all over Arizona.

White Mountain Optimist Club President Mike Toepper said the club is proud of the young man's accomplishment.

"Kulish did a wonderful job presenting his speech about the questions posed to him," Toepper said. "The members of our Optimist Club have no doubt that Kyson has a bright future ahead of him."

Kyson said his speech was about the Olympics and how athletes from all over the world who compete in it are optimists in their own right.

He was reluctant to talk much about the honor bestowed him, but was willing to talk about his two dogs, Biscuit and Harry.

He said he taught Biscuit and Harry to jump with him on a trampoline.

"Biscuit can get down by himself, but we have to help Harry get to the ground," he said.

Kulish's favorite thing to do is read. That comes as no surprise considering the extensive vocabulary he has compared to the average 9-year-old.

Kyson said he started reading in his pre-school years with help from mom.

Right now, he is on the third book of the "Series of Unfortunate Events" written by Lemony Snicket.

The book he is reading now is "The Wide Window."

Given that he typically reads a book in only one night, it would be a fair guess that by the time this story goes to print, he will have finished "The Wide Window" and moved on to the next in the series, "The Miserable Mill."

Mom is understandably proud of her son's accomplishment and his penchant for reading.

"The competition he was in was in Tucson (the weekend of April 28) competing against students from other Arizona schools (including 12th graders) and he was the youngest … he gave a five-minute speech on why the world needs optimism and Kyson made it to being an Arizona district finalist for his speech … and he got to represent the whole White Mountains," she said. "And as part of his speech, he actually sang Katy Perry's song, ‘Rise.'"

Kyson said he used to read with mom at his side, but now that he is 9, he reads alone.

He typically finishes a book in just one night.

"I close the door and turn off my TV and turn on the light and just start reading. And I look at the time every three chapters," he said about his reading nightly regimen.

Coconut is his favorite "food."

So far, he is not all that fond of vegetables except for potatoes.

Kyson has three different career paths in mind when he reaches adulthood.

Gymnastics, a veterinarian, or maybe a publisher.

No surprise about being a publisher given his passion for reading.

Mom is not the only one who is proud of Kyson.

"The Optimist Club of the White Mountains has been participating in the Optimist Oratorical Contest for three years and has been active in the community since 2004. Other programs and service projects that the club is involved in include the library summer reading program, essay scholarship, Odyssey of the Mind, Adopting Holiday Families, Trunk or Treat, Childhood Cancer Awareness, Bike Rodeo and Safety Fair, HOBY Leadership Academy, and local school projects such as stamp classes, Campaign for Cursive and Optimist Club Student of the Month program," a Optimist Club of the White Mountains press release announcing Kulish's accomplishment stated.

Reach the reporter at

Photos: Photo by Mike Leiby, White Mountain Independent