Saluting Polk County's Class of 2014

KINGS VALLEY — Kyler Freilinger, a graduating senior at Kings Valley Charter School, is, in a way, almost grateful for the bullying he experienced in middle school because of the opportunities it gave him.    “I was physically, verbally and emotionally — every kind of abuse you can think of, I went through in seventh grade,” Freilinger said.    But without those difficult trials, he said he never would have tried martial arts, or played a year of football, or enrolled at KVCS as an eighth-grader.    Freilinger, who lives in Monmouth, was removed from Talmadge Middle School in the seventh grade and enrolled in online school Oregon Connections Academy. That didn’t work either.    “I went from being really bullied and having too much (negative social interaction) to having zero social interaction,” he said.    His parents turned to KVCS on the advice of a family friend. There, Freilinger found a place he could be comfortable. He was understandably a “very shy, out of the way kid” at first, but he eventually found his place.    “My life would have totally been different if I hadn’t been bullied,” he said.    Now, Freilinger even has what he calls the “Kyler Fan Club” among the youngest students at the school.    This year, Freilinger completed his “senior internship,” KVCS’s version of the senior project, being an assistant in the school’s kindergarten class. He was the students’ immediate favorite and a great help to teacher Lyndsey Zarfas, who at the beginning of the school year was expecting a baby.    “He came in before school started and volunteered to help out that way,” she said. “And when the kids were finally here, they absolutely adored working with him. They loved him. Kyler was kind of a big mentor. He would help them with writing. They would write about him.”    Freilinger plans to attend Western Oregon University to study to be a teacher, a path he seems suited for, according to Zarfas.    “The way he interacts with kids, he understands what they want and what they need and how they feel,” she said. “I think he will do very well.”    Freilinger’s difficult seventh-grade year served as inspiration in his career choice, too.    “I want to do special education and rehabilitation counseling,” he said. “So I’m looking more toward upper secondary and middle school, where I can help with counseling, emotional problems, that kind of thing.”    Freilinger said he’s ready to take the next step after graduating Saturday, but it won’t be easy leaving the school environment that fostered so much positive change in his life.    “I’m excited to go to Western, yes, but very sad to be leaving this school,” he said. “I’m planning on coming back for a visit or two… There is almost nothing I won’t miss. It’s been amazing, the experiences I’ve had. I’ve gained more friends than I’ve ever had in my entire life here.”


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