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Fine Arts Student of the Week: Senior brings her characters to life in her stories

Brainerd High School senior Sydney Pribula typically sits on this red sofa in the library at the high school to write her stories for her creative writing classes. Pribula was named this week's Fine Arts Student of the Week. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch

Adviser nomination: "Sydney is a talented writer whose attention to description and detail brings the characters and settings of her stories to life. She is exceptional at describing the emotions of characters and their interactions with one another. In addition to working on her own pieces, she willingly assists other writers with their work."

Memorable fine arts achievement: Winning a vocal scholarship through St. Ben's and being nominated for the (Central Lakes Conference) Honor's Choir. The festival was April 5 at St. Cloud Apollo High School

Artist most admired: David Keenan, a Scottish author and musician.

Other fine arts activities: Theater and A Cappella Choir.

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Sydney Pribula

  • Grade: Senior.
  • Age: 18.
  • Art focus: Brainerd High School Creative Writing II.

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How do you bring your stories to life? "I really start with an idea in my head and think about the people I've met and the experiences in my life. I take those people and take my story plot and I try to make characters out of them. I give them specific characteristics that are brought out through different parts of the story and how they react to things and their style of how they talk. This is how I bring them to life."

Favorite characters: "In my last story, I wrote for Ms. Sanford was a suspense story. I had two main characters who were focused on an orphanage and they were really not sure what it was or why they were there. My characters are Uma and Lily. Uma reached out Lily as a friend when nobody else would accept her. She reached out to her and was honest about everything. I really loved that honesty of the character and what the strength it portrays in the story. She also was the oldest of all the girls in the story, which is a symbolism of wisdom."

Proudest story: "The suspense story with Uma and Lily. The title of the story is 'The Place.' I was going through ideas in your head and (Sanford) was talking about how suspense stories don't have to be blood and guts and gore, they can have a little mystery to them, as long as it is intense. I was thinking of that and of course with suspense there has to be a bad guy, there has to be a conflict. Both Lily's parents passed away and she was sent to the orphanage and she didn't know why she was there as she was only 10. She tries to make relationships, but no one will accept her, besides Uma. Throughout this story, she starts to realize this guardian of hers is stealing stuff from her and keeping secrets from her; and in the end it does get a little gruesome. She starts to realize where she is and why she is there, but she is trying to figure out why she is being treated so badly.

"This story is 18 pages long, double spaced. We were given a broad category. There was no criteria, just the idea of suspense. She says it has be as long as it takes you to get your story across. Mine ended up being so long, not because the plot is long, but because it took me that long to bring the characters alive."

Strongest skill: "I would say bringing my characters to life."

Weakest skill: "I struggle with using personification I don't use a lot of it and it can be a key."

Next challenge: "I have a friend who always tell me I need to write a story on my life, as they said they would read it. (Outside of writing), I try to meet someone new everyday and get to know them."

New to BHS: "I grew up in East Grand Forks and then moved to Bemidji. I was there for eight years and then we moved to Baxter my junior year. What I miss from Bemidji is their fine arts programs.

"I used to be very introverted and I used to not talk to people, but then I moved here and found what I really love to do and found some of my best friends."

After high school plans: "I'm going to (College of) St. Ben's to major in music elementary education. I would like to be an elementary music teacher. I put two of my passions together—I love kids so much and there was an awakening where I was like this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I also have such a passion for singing in choir and I want to be that inspiration for people, especially kids."

Favorite subject: I don't really prefer a subject, I enjoy everything."

Favorite movie: "Up," by Disney Pixar.

Favorite TV show: "Friends."

Favorite book: "Pretending to Dance," by Diane Chamberlain.

Favorite song: "Bees," by the Balloon Thieves.

Favorite restaurant: Boulder Tap House.

Things about you: "I like to be outside and I write my own music. I sing with my ukulele. I just started writing music two years ago. One of the songs I wrote is called 'Beautiful Life.' It's a simple tune about realizing life isn't OK all the time, but there are a lot of beautiful aspects ...

"Outside, I like to go camping and hiking, and explore and see new things. Spiders are my worst fear."

Biggest pet peeve: "The weird clicking sound people make with their tongue."

Parents: Jessica Pribula of Baxter.