Dedication to Kinley Leonard

Kinley Leonard: A Quiet Leader

On Sunday, March 6th, THS lost senior Kinley Leonard. She is remembered by her classmates, coaches, and friends as a sweet, fun, and insightful person.  Kinley played volleyball, loved art and music, and had an interest in psychology. Her bright, dimpled smile and willingness to talk about the things that mattered made an impression on us all.


Kinley was a “back row player” who, according to her former coach, Ms. Johnson, “worked her tail off to get right there and always had the support, despite not getting the glory the front row does.” Johnson went on to describe Kinley’s kindness and leadership, saying, “She was a quiet leader. She was always kind to me and she was always giving hugs, and I think that was just our relationship.” 

Coach Tiller remembers Kinley as “somebody [he] always clicked with and enjoyed being around.” Coach Tiller recalls a particular conversation they had after a game: “She had really been struggling and we sat after a game and talked for a long time. And then the next time out, it was like she was a totally different person. She looked over at me and smiled and said, ‘Yeah, you’re right, I can do it.’” 

Madison Blair, who played volleyball with Kinley, said, “She was very positive on the court, fun to play with, and uplifting.” Rachel Kent, who also played volleyball with Kinley, said, “She figuratively and literally had a spring in her step during plays. She was supportive but also knew how to motivate you to do better at the same time. She was the ideal teammate.” 


Kinley took Art I and formed a close bond with Mr. Graham. After completing the course, she spent her free time in the art room. She enjoyed creating art out of oil pastels, drawing faces on flowers, the sun, and the moon. Graham said that he respects Kinley for the way she dealt with difficult situations. “She maturely owned up to everything. I think she held herself accountable and noticed rights and wrongs from herself and she owned up to all of that. She truly, honestly tried to be better and better as a person.”


Music played a big role in Kinley’s life. She loved throwbacks like The Beatles and Pink Floyd, and loved anything by Mac Miller.  Her friend Lily Rosser says that “She was a party girl at heart,” and some of her favorite songs were “UCLA” by RL Grime, “Thug Cry” by Solider Kid, and “Spins” by Mac Miller. Kinley also used music to help her through tough times. Her friend Abigail Woodring recalls Kinley sharing the song “Friends Don’t” by Maddie and Tae with her. This was during a rant about a boy, and Abigail will always associate this song with her. Through the music she loved, we will remember and celebrate her life and the joy she brought to us.


Kinley loved psychology, so much so that she dreamed of becoming a school psychologist when she got older. Mr. Grindstaff, her Psychology and American Government teacher, had nothing but good things to say about her: “Even if this had not happened to Kinley, I honestly don’t think I would have had anything negative to say about her.” He spoke of how she was intrigued by everything, and eager to learn. “It seemed as though she always had a smile on her face, no matter what,” says Grindstaff. 

He enjoyed having her in class–and called her his “amen corner”–because every time he would teach she would nod or even say “Amen.” He goes on to say that she had the best attitude out of all his students, and was extremely passionate about psychology. It’s hard not to imagine what a wonderful psychologist Kinley would have made.

Purple and Tie-Dye

Today, we honor Kinley by wearing her favorite color, purple, and the design she loved to wear, tie-dye. We remember an artistic, athletic, and authentic person who was, above all, kind. She was the kind of person who would lend an ear to anyone who needed it. Izzy Gilbert remembers simply running into Kinley during bathroom breaks: “We would talk about our families and our lives. She would always try to make people happy. She was just a sweet soul.”


When Kinley was a student in Mr. Davis’s sophomore English class, she wrote about her favorite smell, rain, and shared it with the class.  That same semester was the beginning of quarantine, and Mr. Davis recalls that even when assignments were not being graded, she continued to participate in class, which to him “showed a lot of character.”

Summer Rain Air

By Kinley E. Leonard

The touch of air after a summer rainfall feels almost like a new beginning. The air transitions from a bare, dry current, into something much more; a refreshing damp, and colorful feeling. It gives a sense of freshness, like we can start over now.

Many people see rain as dreary, or downing, but don’t consider the aftermath of the rain. For instance, the smell of dewy grass and new life is rejuvenating. Stepping outside on a warm summer day, after a long rain shower, is a satisfying experience. The way the moistness trickles onto your skin and decides to stick around for a while. I know it sounds almost silly, but just stop and think about it. The rain brings new life, new creatures, and refurnishes the old ones. That’s something astonishing.

We too need refurnishing sometimes, and it’s the little things, like a summer rainfall, that give us that. Also, the smell is a different type of sweet. Not like candy, or ice cream, but almost like the grass was dipped in honey. Sometimes fog comes with the rain, which covers up the things of today, and pushes them away. All so that we begin again tomorrow, a new beginning.

Kinley shared the following poem about herself at the beginning of her AP Language class with Mrs. Story the fall semester of her junior year.

I Am 

By Kinley Leonard

I am enduring volleyball matches. 

I am a walk through the frigid woods every Christmas.

I am four different Christmases each year. 

I am a split family, but still a very close knit one. 

I am an independent mother with a kind soul.

I am a stepfather who became the father figure that I needed. 

I am fighting for what you believe, despite others opinions. 

I am dependable friends with good shoulders to lean on.

I am working morning to night when necessary. 

I am therapeutic drives. 

More Photos of Kinley.

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