Seaman High School student named ‘hero’ after losing parents, keeping positive outlook on life

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Jared Kerr lost both his parents at just 16-years-old, now his school is recognizing his strength, becoming a hero to his peers.

As you walk down the halls of Seaman High School, you’ll see a life-size painting of Jared Kerr. Not just any painting, a painting of a student who proved you don’t have to be a superhero, to be a hero.

At the age of 16, Jared’s world was turned upside down, when the only child lost both his parents in less than a year.

“Like why is this happening to me?” Kerr said. “You know, just kind of didn’t make sense for a while. Kind of hard to deal with.”

On June 14, 2017, Jared’s mom died from a blood clot after knee surgery, leaving Jared without his partner.

“She was kind of my sidekick for a while,” Jared said. “Because she was a single mom for quite some time. We kind of stuck together.”

Then in January of 2018, Jared’s dad committed suicide.

“He was fighting some demons,” Jared said.

Instead of giving up, Jared saw the silver lining in life, excelling in school during his loss.

“Instead of going on a down-hill spiral, or losing motivation, he used things such as sports to better himself,” Jordyn Ashbaugh, one of the artists behind Jared’s painting. “And motivate himself to do better. Seaman is known for the saying ‘Seaman strong’. And with Jared’s situation, the community has done an outstanding job at being there for him.”

Sports became his biggest outlet during this time, using football and wrestling to keep him busy.

“He really stayed consistent through the whole thing,” Patrick Kelly, Jared’s wrestling coach, said. “And kept his head about him. And continued doing well in school, and continued doing well on the playing fields.”

Most importantly, he learned the power of positivity.

“I know people are watching,” Jared said. “No matter what you are going through, you can still always be positive. There’s still good things that will come out of it.”

That same outlook which inspired the Seaman High School community to call him a hero.

The people behind the painting were seven art students who all together chose Jared for the painting.

Jared will be graduating on Sunday from Seaman High School. He’s decided to stay in Topeka for college, as he plans to attend Washburn University next year.

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