For our annual Kids Issue, Xpress sought out local kids’ takes on what community means to them. In short: a lot. Here are a few of their essays on local heroes.

My smiling hero

As we rush by, my tired eyes gaze gloomily out of the window, looking at a shy blur of green trees. Red flashes surround me as cars turn onto the smooth paved driveway of Owen High. Fields emerge on the left as bleachers on the sides reflect the bright sun. I turn away quickly to save my worn pupils that wish to still be dreaming. Student parking lots hide behind big fields of green. As a small security hut comes into sight, we drive around the right side of it. A thin figure blocks the light making my eyes jerk closed again, too bright, too dark — no, too tired.

My eyes slowly open again and focus in on a sweet old man staring back at me, a wide smile across his face. A quiet, “Hey kiddo,” slips from his lips as his big wrinkled hands wave a welcoming “hi.” Like every morning when his kind smile greets me, a smile quickly spreads across my face and I giggle. I look ahead at the high school building that is now in sight. I start to think of all those people that I see daily that don't know who I am and still take that extra minute to appreciate me. I ask myself, “What if the world were made out of people like him?” — by Leigh Siler, The Learning Community School, sixth grade

My little hero

A hero to me is is my daughter, whose name is Perla Mariana Moreno. She has changed my whole life around. I lived in a place with my mom where drugs was all there was. I was always told that as I get older, I’m going to be a bad kid and do wrong things or make negative choices. In my mind, I couldn’t stop but think, “Are they right? What would I become if everybody’s comments were correct?”

I would feel really bad because I wanted different for myself. Sometimes, I would just not want to be here due to the fact that I had nothing leading me in the right direction. Once I was told that I was almost three months pregnant, I felt like my world lit up. The fire that I was waiting for … started burning. In my mind, I was [bursting with] joy knowing that the person I was waiting to get me on the right path was inside of me, growing every day, giving me more and more reasons to change who I am.

As days and months went by, I felt a difference in who I am. I started to have more confidence and wanted to do more things. I started finishing school, married my daughter’s father and moved to my dad’s house. Since those decisions were made, my life has been complete. My daughter is now 14 months old. I have been married for almost three years, and I am now graduating. If it wasn’t for my daughter, I wouldn’t have gotten this far and done what I have done. Thank you, God, for listening to my prayers and giving me what I love the most in this world. — by Raven Rathbone, Community High School

Community heroes

I think the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger is a hero in our community because he is risking his job for what believes is the correct thing to do. He is going against the North Carolina state constitution banning same-sex marriage and seeking to grant and approve same-sex marriage licenses. He is trying to do what he thinks is right for our community.

He is a hero to me because I agree they should be able to have same-sex marriage because they are still normal people just like everyone else. They are still human — that does not mean they should be disrespected and not accepted for who they are. Reisinger is a hero to me because he is pretty much trying to get that point across and show that he cares and accepts people for who they are. — by anonymous, Community High School

Remembering Laurey Masterton

Laurey Masterton was an amazing community leader.  She founded one of my family’s favorite restaurants, Laurey’s. I never met her in person, but I saw her when I went to Laurey’s in the past.  She struggled with cancer for most of her life and recently died of it. She was a long-distance bike rider, and, for part of her life, she worked in New York as a lighting designer for Broadway. She had two favorite hobbies: beekeeping and glassblowing.

At age 12, she lost both of her parents due to cancer. Soon after that, she was diagnosed herself. She was 59 when she died, after battling cancer for over 20 years.

I think Laurey was an amazing, inspiring person because she stayed strong, even when struggling with cancer. She was a very special person to many people because of her amazing thoughts and actions. She didn’t let cancer get in her way. She supported others during a hard time, even when she was going through a hard time herself. I know that not many people know about her, but I think she should be famous for all the amazing work she has done.  It would have been an honor to meet her in person.

Laurey made up a motto, “Don’t postpone joy.”  That motto spread to be on bumper stickers, signs, posters, and much more. Walking on the streets in Asheville, I have seen many cars with that sticker.

Now that she is gone, I don’t think we should grieve about it all the time and feel sorry. I also think we should finish what she started. She didn’t let a big thing like cancer bring her down, and we should follow her lead and do that too. We should be strong and keep going, even during an especially hard time in our lives. In that way, Laurey’s memory will be cherished forever. — by Sofia Hicks, The Learning Community School,sixth grade

Community hero

Tony Morris is truly a hero in this community. He is wonderful with people and understanding in many areas. He is a seventh-degree black belt in taekwondo and owns a TKD school named Sun Soo. He has a way of making me feel special and appreciated. It seems like he is always cheerful and pays special attention to each and every student in and outside the do jang [school]. He always shows the five tenets on the do jang walls: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.

Master Morris not only brightens the day of people in the do jang, but continues to make other people happy everywhere he goes. Hundreds of people that go to Sun Soo, both children and adults, are changed for the better by Master Morris’ positive attitude and rich personality. I have been participating in his TKD School for under two years and, since starting, I have grown much more respectful to everyone, and I feel that I am slower to anger that I was before starting. Master Morris is extremely smart and is adept at changing his tone and body language to make the person he is talking to feel comfortable.

He is also a great “Teacher of Teachers.” The three additional full-time staff members are amazing at taekwondo and kind to everyone. Master Morris is very inspiring and has touched many people over the years. He is truly someone special. — By Sterling Bishop, Legacy Christian Academy, homeschool, fifth grade


My heroes work at Dr. George Washington Carver Edible Park. They’re trying to make our community greener by planting plants you can eat. The park is really green and bright, [with] a lot of fruit and nuts growing all over the place. They have grapes and chestnuts and a lot of other things you can eat growing everywhere you turn.

When my school went to work there for MLK service day, we planted all different kinds of blueberry bushes. We planted six bushes total. The instructor (one of my heroes) taught us how to plant them. First, you dig a hole big enough for your plant. Then, put the bush in. After you put the bush in, refill the hole with dirt. Cover the ground around your plant with cardboard, then put mulch on the cardboard. Water it, then watch it grow.

I enjoyed going to work at the edible park so much. It was fun because everybody there was really nice and just wanted to help our community. Anyone can go and pick the food when it’s ripe. But if you do, you should help by volunteering. That's what I would like to do when I grow up. I mean, what's more fun than digging holes all day? — by Sam Edwards, The Learning Community School, fifth grade

Mr. West

I would say that Mr. West is a hero of mine. He helps people when they need it, and he takes his own time to listen to what we have to say and how we could fix it. Mr. West means a lot to me because he has helped me a lot this year, like with my ex-boyfriend and when I needed to talk to him about the person I am in love with … He is always there for me, and it feels good to know that someone cares how I feel and [he] makes me feel important and strong about myself. Mr. West is my hero and I love him and he is a true blessing to all of the Community High School students. — By Maria Luther, Community High School

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