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Academic Achiever of the Week: Autumn McKenna

Autumn McKenna in front a parade float that she worked on.
Autumn McKenna in front a parade float that she worked on.(The McKenna Family)
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 6:12 PM EDT
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WIRT COUNTY, W.Va. (WTAP) - COVID-19 has expelled students from their usual learning facilities to their bedrooms, kitchens and mom and dad’s home offices. There’s not much to like about the situation for many students, but for one Wirt County High Schooler, there is at least one upside: she gets to draw more.

One of Autumn McKenna’s favorite hobbies is dreaming up new characters, drawing them, and writing up their backstories. She also loves to watch film reviews and discuss art with other artists online. With hobbies like those and coursework that includes theater 101 and art, it’s easy to see how she decided she wants to study film at the college level.

“I actually plan to go away for college and major in film. Specifically, screenwriting. That’s what I want to do, [that is,] write for movies and maybe even direct. That’s more of a long term goal though,” said McKenna.

McKenna says she has been drawn to the arts from a young age, mostly by the creators who made her childhood special.

“Cartoons were a big part of my childhood,” said McKenna. “Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of Spongebob, he’s like a really huge inspiration to me. I used to want to animate for Disney or any type of cartoon but I’m really more just into writing. Animation is a very long process.”

While she has a major picked out, she hasn’t picked a college yet.

“I don’t have my heart set on one place in particular, but as for in-state I was mostly looking at West Virginia State University because I believe they have some sort of film course. Out of state, I was looking at the University of North Carolina’s school of arts. Kind of like a really out there thing: California. It’s very expensive, but that’s where they have all the big film schools,” said McKenna.

Wherever she goes, she’ll have a head start. The Wirt County High School senior is taking more classes at West Virginia University at Parkersburg this year than she is at WCHS. She’s been taking college courses since she was 15 years-old and has maintained a 4.0 throughout her high school career.

“As in all the classes right now” said McKenna.

On top of her academic successes, McKenna uses her skills in the arts to make a little money on the side.

“Actually one of the positives of COVID has been, I’ve never drawn this much in my entire life," said McKenna. “I’ve been getting commissions, my first commission was last year in February. Basically, people pay me to draw for them, and I’ve been making a lot of money doing that.”

Like many academic achievers, McKenna is involved in leadership programs, like the Future Business Leaders of America and YLA, Wirt County High School’s youth leadership program.

She is also a member of the Homecoming Float Committee at school, which she says everyone should try at least once.

“The float committee is definitely something I recommend. Anyone if you have a chance to work on a float, you should. I’ve been on the float every year, I believe. It’s just a lot of fun,” said McKenna.

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