Alexandra Kautzman, 17, picked up a pencil at a young age and just started writing. The Bismarck High School senior says she’s been putting words on paper as far back as she can remember.
“I can definitely see myself in kindergarten writing. I remember writing stories during free time, creating different plots in my head,” she said. “I’ve just always been writing.”
An opinion and managing editor for BHS’s school newspaper, The Hi-Herald, as well as editor of the school’s literary magazine, PenSoul, Kautzman aims to study creative writing and journalism in college and become a published writer.
The Bismarck native says she enjoys opinion writing for the school newspaper, which is a monthly publication.
“Writing opinions is definitely fun, just because it’s not formal like a news story. I get to put my voice out there and people read it, whether they like it or not,” she said.
With PenSoul, she says she enjoys working with other staff members to write poems and stories, create artwork, edit and design the approximate 100 pages and, finally, print, bind and glue the books, which are available for purchase at the end of the school year.
“It’s definitely handmade and student done. It’s really cool to see all of our hard work come together in something you can hold in your hand and look back on and say, ‘Yeah, I made that,’” she said.
Kautzman, who is also involved in BHS’s writer’s club, is this week’s Teen of the Week.
“Alex is an extremely hard worker who has high expectations for herself. She pushed herself to learn and grow and became one of my top writers … she reminds me of so many literary greats whose words have served as weapons,” wrote BHS English instructor Rosann Jacobs-Fode, in a letter of recommendation. “Her classmates admire and respect her and so do I.”
Throughout high school, the teen attended numerous journalism conventions across the country, including Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago. A write-off competition coincides with each convention and for her impromptu poetry, Kautzman received honorary mention, excellent and superior — the highest ranking — the past three years, respectively.
Music is also one of her passions. She’s played trumpet since fifth grade and participates in the concert, pep, jazz and marching bands. Private piano lessons have been etched into her schedule since seventh grade.
The straight-A student, who scored a 32 on her ACT exam, has taken summer school “every year possible” to ensure that she has room in her regular school schedule for electives, such as writing classes.
“The 100s, the As and my GPA are not only for me, but for my family, for my teachers, for all the people who support me because I don’t want to let them down,” she said. “I want to do the best that I possibly can, not just for me but for everyone else’s benefit.”
Kautzman also volunteers on a regular basis at places such as Heaven’s Helpers Soup Cafe, Sleepy Hollow Theatre and Papa’s Pumpkin Patch.
In September, she began working part time as a Papa Murphy’s crew member — a job she says she thoroughly enjoys.
“Making pizzas is a fun pastime … it’s not very hard and it’s a little bit of creating, too,” she said. “At the end, you have this pizza that you’ve made and it’s fun to sprinkle on the toppings and stuff.”
Kautzman, the daughter of Stephanie and Russell, has four younger sisters, who she helps chauffeur to and from their many activities to assist her working parents.
“I’m definitely the taxi of the family … it’s impossible to get everyone where they need to go with just one driver,” she said. “So I definitely have to step in and help my family out.”
She said her siblings don't mind, so long as she doesn't blast music from her cassette tape collection.