An Experience Like No Other

An Experience Like No Other

By Jonathan Gotlib


When most student-athletes are injured, the thoughts swirling around their heads are pretty negative. They think they'll never play again and are unsure how to proceed with their training and education. Of course, most recover and move on. But that was different for the Class of 2023's Kyle Soule of Westminster, Mass.


"In the seventh grade, I got hurt and couldn't play lacrosse or snowboard or work out because the blood flow was cut off from my patella bone," said Soule of the middle school injury. "I was extremely depressed… and I was to the point where — I don't know — I just wasn't enjoying life at all."


Kyle hard at work framing up a shot while in Wyoming.


However, his cousin, a professional photographer for about 20 years who had recently moved back to New England from Baltimore, provided a spark.


Or, better explained, the flash.


"He put a camera in my hand," explained Kyle. "I always liked photography but never really had the time to dive into it."


With his newfound time, Kyle took to photography equipment as easily as he had stepped onto a snowboard or into cleats.


Fast forward a few years, and Kyle enjoyed photography more than ever possible; he took a loan from his parents to purchase his own gear and began photographing classmates at LA.


"Senior pictures and stuff like that for my friends," he said. "I'm not going to go crazy and say that it saved my life or anything, but photography had a tremendous impact and just helped me enjoy life again."


Seen here focused in science class, Kyle always made his school work a priority, all while expanding his photography away from LA.


During the latter part of his journey at Lawrence Academy, Kyle began expanding his photography world by doing freelance work in his spare time. The extra work baffled many: A high school student balancing homework, sports, social life, family, and freelance photography work?


But Kyle spoke highly of the people in his life — both on and off campus — who supported him along the way, giving him the confidence to balance it all.


"My parents were a huge driver. They always have been. They also encouraged me to do it all," explained Soule. "There were times where I'd be like, 'this is just too much. I just can't do it. I need to pick something; I need to choose... Nobody does art and sports and school and everything,' and they just kind of calmed me down.


"Again, it goes back to that time management thing, and they instilled that in me. But it wasn't just them. Ms. Mordeno (Director of the Arts) was a huge help. Ms. McGowan (Photography Teacher); 


"Ms. Ryan and Mr. Margraf specifically on that trip because they made it possible," he explained.


What trip is he referring to? Of course, Kyle speaks of a Winterim "travel trip."


Photo taken by Kyle during his trip to Grand Teton National Park.


During Kyle's senior year, he was lucky enough to be selected (in the annual Winterim lottery) for the photography trip to the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming - a dream trip for any photographer, budding or seasoned pro.


"All the photography Winterims always get filled up first, so I was super worried that I wasn't going to get in it," confided Kyle with a smile.


In fact, Kyle even mentioned how he attempted to persuade "Tony" [referring to Mr. Hawgood, Director of Winterim] by showing him his photography portfolio and expressing how much he wanted to get on the trip.


"But I still went through the same lottery as everybody else," said Soule. "It was nerve-wracking. And I was extremely excited when I got into it."


For any photographer, getting the chance to be in a place as beautiful as the Grand Tetons can feel like a monumental challenge simply because you're overwhelmed by the sights and unsure what to shoot first and how.


Photo taken by Kyle during his trip to Grand Teton National Park.


"You feel like you don't even know what you're doing or you [tell yourself], it's not overwhelming, but your mind almost goes blank because you're thinking, 'How am I going capture this in a photo? Because it is so beautiful.'"


While Soule felt challenged by the beauty of the locale, Kyle took what he learned over the years, whether from his cousin, parents, or his support system at LA, and did what he does best; the young photographer remained level-headed and focused his sights on the scenery of Wyoming.


"I may never make it back to the Tetons in my life. I don't know, I might go back five times, but I just wanted to get the most out of the trip that I possibly could," he said retrospectively. "So there was never a second that I didn't have my camera in my hands."


Photo taken by Kyle during his trip to Grand Teton National Park.


Beyond the photographic evidence, when asked about his overall Lawrence Academy experience and how it has shaped him into the person he is today, Kyle quickly centered his answer around the academic program, his teachers, and the care he felt while at LA.


"[The faculty are] reaching out to you at some points because they're like, 'I don't think you completely got this, come by for extra help.' It would be a long list if I were to name all the teachers that helped me like that."


"That's the biggest takeaway for me," continued Soule, "above athletics, above the arts, above all [the usual reasons], I came to LA because of the academics, and I feel like it delivered a hundred percent.


Kyle (laying down in the middle), posing with the rest of his Winterim group.


"There's no question it set me up for success like no public school could have, and I'll even say that no other private school could have done."


Kyle believes that LA shows its students how to succeed inside and out of the classroom.


"In a world where everything is difficult, they set you up for success."