Molly Kerr sits on her porch. (Emma Martin)
Molly Kerr sits on her porch.

Emma Martin

Q & A: Molly Kerr

May 15, 2020

What are you most proud of?

As far as accomplishments of my own, I am proud of my summers at camp where I have grown so much in my confidence, faith, leadership skills, social skills and courage. One summer, I decided to go on  tent at a campsite, because I wanted to push myself. It was one of the sweetest results I have had because it was so challenging. I hiked many miles a day with a heavy pack and limited water, I set up tarps that I slept between with open sides as a bear stole one of our three large canisters of food, I carried the extra water to the top of a mountain where there was no stream, I set up a stove I had never worked before, and I cooked my own dinner on it. My friend once commented on how cool it was that we made our own shelter, cooked our own food and filtered our own water. We were unusually independent, with a little instruction from our counselors/guides. It still stands as a reminder that I can do all things, even hard things, through Christ who strengthens me. I am also really proud of the next summer when I was a Counselor in Training, or CIT, because it was my first real job. Even though I was not paid, I again was independent, I was learning leadership skills. On my days off I was learning how to recharge, I learned to teach theatre (thanks to the counselors who gave me opportunities to try and maybe even fai)l, and I had fun getting to know my campers while I was learning so much.

What are your favorite activities to do?

My favorite extracurriculars are chorus, theatre, musical theatre, youth ministry and confirmation.

Chorus is fun because I enjoy singing and I love my choir program here at Wando. Haha I just said it was mine like it belongs to me… But it feels like that, in a way, to be truly part of it like you are part of your own family. I wrote one of my college essays about how one time I was in the front of the classroom for something with chorus and I was just overwhelmed by seeing so many faces I cared for so much. It was a degree of joy that is difficult to describe.

Confirmation is this class at my church, St. Andrew’s, that mostly eighth graders take to learn more about what it means to be a Christian and decide for themselves whether or not they want to be a Christian, rather than calling themselves Christians just because that is what their parents believe in. I did this in eighth grade and it changed my life because it kick-started a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Jesus. I love being a part of this every year because I love my girls so much (there I go again with “my” haha) and I love Jesus, so it is so cool to be used to connect with them all at the same time.

What makes you your happiest?

I feel happy when I don’t have any schoolwork hanging over my head and I can give myself permission to relax and have fun. In those times, my favorite thing to do is probably to read and listen to God while I chill on my back porch, but other things I enjoy are going on a walk with my mom and my dog and going on sunrise boat rides. One of the things that I am the happiest while doing is theatre. It makes me so happy to act like some exaggerated character who is completely different from me and to just go all out, if that makes any sense. I love being exaggerated, quirky and silly, so being a character different from me, maybe not even in the same world as me, who is all of those things, is so much fun! I also enjoy sharing that love of silly things and acting with other people, which makes my theatre classes so much fun. I take them here at Wando and also with Charleston Stage. 

One of my favorite things from high school is the Summerstage classes — or shows — I did every summer of high school through Charleston Stage. This class of theirs is full of all middle and high schoolers, although they have an elementary age class as well, who audition the second day of class for parts in a show we will put on at the end of the four weeks. These classes include the teachers I already knew and loved when I took them — since I have been with Charleston Stage since second grade — but also had kids my age and younger who all were there because we all thought it would be fun. In the summer when I did not have school work (other than the summer work that got a little dusty on the shelf this month every year), I could put all of my energy into the show. The more preparation I put behind my characters, the more fun playing them is because I can have confidence in my preparation. And throughout this time, I developed a love for every single of the 40-person cast every year because I could get to know and watch all of them grow throughout those four weeks. Performing such fun shows with people I loved made me the happiest version of myself.

I also have had some super happy moments at camp and in chorus, but I’ll restrain myself from filling up five pages about how much joy I find in these things since I’m sure they’ll come up some other time in this interview.

What are three adjectives your friends would use to describe you?

Sweet, happy and kind are the words I probably hear the most when people describe me.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to attend University of Georgia in the fall, meet new friends, keep up with old friends, join the theatre department and choir program and take a variety of classes so I can figure out what I want to major in. Long term, my goal is simply to serve the Lord. I am a little apprehensive to journey towards the unknown, but mostly excited since there are so many amazing possibilities.

What has really helped you grow throughout high school?

My AP classes have been really influential because I have been challenged through those, and I believe people grow the most through challenges. My first of those was AP Human Geography. I learned so much in class and felt like such a better member of society because I could contribute so much more. I actually knew a bit about the world. While I was taking the AP exam, I was not caring as much what my score turned out to be as I was finding joy in putting all of my gained knowledge down on paper. I was so proud of myself for learning so much.

Also, the Wings apprenticeship program with Charleston Stage Company has helped me grow a lot because it has shifted me from only being equipped as an actress to also being the crew for some shows. I was taught a lot about responsibility and had the best teachers I could ask for to teach me life skills that can be used in any job as well as skills in acting and theatre tech.

Who has influenced you during high school? 

Wow. So many people have helped me grow. My mom and dad have definitely influenced me. I admire them and am learning from them on a regular basis. Also, my teachers have really influenced me because I respect them. I have a lot of teachers that have helped shape me, but a few that come to mind are Mrs. Carroll, Mrs. Kinslow, Mrs. Darby and Mrs. Watkins. I was a teacher assistant for Mrs. Carroll this year and she kept having to remind me to chill out, and I definitely think she saved me multiple times from pushing myself over the edge. Like all of these teachers, she is a friend and mentor to me as well as a teacher. Mrs. Kinslow let me stay in her room last year while she graded papers so that I could miss B-lot traffic, and I am amazed that she never seemed to get bored of me! I admire her constant energy and genuine care for her students, and how her caring for me would brighten my day amidst the stress of getting everything done when it seemed impossible. Mrs. Darby is so fun and funny! She gave me advice while I was in her class and also when I would see her after I finished her class, and she would always be willing to give me a hug when I needed one. Mrs. Darby is another super caring teacher who sees her first job as encouraging her students, and she sees her actual job of teaching algebra as an avenue for that. I have considered going into education because of teachers like her and Mrs. Watkins, who suggested that career possibility. Ms. Watkins is so bold, outgoing, confident, fun and passionate about what she teaches. I forgot to mention that about all of the teachers I mentioned: they all love what they’re doing and what they are teaching. Mrs. Watkins reads books in her spare time for fun and then puts them on the reading list for her AP Language and Composition classes so we can enjoy them, too. She visits authors’ houses when she goes on vacation and then gets ecstatic as she tells us about it and shows us pictures on her powerpoint. Mrs. Watkins reminds me of my second grade teacher, Ms. Hopkins, who I want to be like one day and I am still friends with. They both have passion for what they do, are full of boldness and confidence, and are loving towards everyone they meet. Of course I am already thinking of other teachers I adore, but I will move on:)

I cannot talk about people who have shaped me and not mention my teachers from Charleston Stage Company. I have been with that company since second grade and they have helped me grow throughout that whole time. Marybeth is bold, honest and a great teacher. She is so caring and creative. I would be such a different person without her! Jesse has been my teacher the last five or six years and he is a teacher/actor/director that I feel so privileged to be a student under. He is an actor first, so he often acts out what he wants us to do when he directs or teaches, which is so inspiring because he can so quickly switch to being a whole nother person for just a few seconds, undistracted by whether the person he is talking to is playing along or not, and then be himself again. He creates fully developed characters to an extent I doubt most actors do and with a thoughtful dedication I doubt many actors match. He is my role model as far as acting goes. Sam is very professional, caring in a non discrete way, thoughtful and so skilled as a musician. He was my director for two of the Summerstage shows I was a part of, and he was so kind, respectful, and confident. He gave me opportunities where he trusted me to work on a part of the show and that was great for my growth as an actor and as a person because I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and be confident in what I had rehearsed at home. Ashley, the stage manager for many shows, has shown me organization and what a good balance between work and fun looks and feels like. I learned many life and stage management skills from her. Corinne works in the costume shop and is so kind! She is full of excitement for what she does, which is one of the parts of her that makes her a great friend/teacher for me: I enjoy costumes so much. Designing, creating, wearing, and drawing costumes are all fun pastimes, so chatting about them with Corinne who cares for those around her and is passionate about costumes is so fun.

Also, my church youth pastors and confirmation leaders have helped shape me so much because they have helped me live out my faith, the largest part of who I am. I have been able to make the church my home and create a family there because of such encouraging, loving people. My confirmation leaders have been my role models for a lot of my high school career because they are full of so much love, fun, joy and wisdom. I want to care for those around me how they do, and I would not be the same person had I not had them in my life. One of them encouraged me to be a small group leader myself, and that has grown me as a leader, friend, teacher and person. Mentoring younger girls in their faith is one of my favorite things now, and I may not have been a leader if my leader had not encouraged and given me confidence to do it. She also has taught me a lot about the Bible, its importance and the lies that are fed to Christians in this day and age. Another one of my confirmation leaders has shown me how to love people through her example. She writes cards with Bible verses, writes and hands out cheesy/sweet notes, takes pictures of her with her present so the receiver can see how immensely she is enjoying it, hands out stickers to people, writes handwritten mail (that always contains unpeeled stickers) and keeps up with friends. She is so cute and I have tried to take up some of her methods of loving people because they mean so much to me and I want to give that to others. 

I have had three youth pastors throughout high school, and they have all given me opportunities to push myself out of my comfort zone, leading to my growth as a follower of Christ and as a leader. They all mean so much to me and have taught me so much that I have put into practice in my life throughout high school, changing how my world runs. The youth ministry and confirmation programs have been very impactful in my faith and thus every aspect of my life since I take Jesus with me wherever I go. Jesus is the foundation for my life, and the more trust I have in that foundation, the stronger everything else in my life will be and the more I will grow from all sorts of experiences. 

What is one of the best memories you have at Wando?

Okay, this is definitely one of the best memories because I have lots… Okay, I’ll give two. My Fatal Mystery this fall was so much fun because there were such fun people as well as some great learning experiences because I got to act off script with audience members, including my family who I pretended were strangers, while leaving an open ending on whether or not I was a murderer. That seemed so challenging when I first heard of it, but it was such a fun challenge. I also enjoyed being the murderer at the end not only because I got to perform my dramatic monologue, but because of this really cool moment that made me feel so cared for. My fellow cast members were super supportive and excited for me, all giving me hugs right before we went on for our last scene.

Another favorite memory also has to do with the PAC. Cabaret last year was a blast because I had my awesome Bella Voce girls in addition to talented, excited Show Choir students surrounding me as we all did something I already knew I loved, but is rare that my non-theatre friends will do with me: act, sing and dance all at the same time as they work together to create a story and evoke an emotion! Last year, Cabaret was on my birthday so a bunch of my classmates, encouraged by my friend Emma I’m sure, gave me hugs, cards and birthday wishes to make my day feel special. I did not have a birthday party that year, but I felt like I had already gotten the best gift I could have hoped for: doing something that made me happy with people I loved and who made me feel loved.

How has this quarantine given you a different outlook?

Quarantine has forced me to slow down and has caused me to realize that a super full schedule is not always bad. Activities and people are wonderful, but you should pick the ones you want to give energy to so you do not get burnt out with nothing left to give. I have found meaning in the in-between moments in life such as a bike ride when I feel like I can barely squeeze it in my online school schedule, but I make room. There is meaning in taking care of yourself because you have more to give when you do.

What is the most important lesson you will take from four years of high school? 

The most important lesson I will take away from high school is the importance of caring for people. No matter what I do in the future, I want to love the people around meI want them to feel loved, appreciated and inspired. If people have those truths inside of them, they are capable of doing so much good. I have seen it happen in myself, and I want to give that to others as well.

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