Students express passion through unique hobbies


Sophomore Neelam Parsons hits a jump on a ramp during a mountain biking race.

Carys Brightwell

At 3:45 p.m., some students go straight home to get their homework done, others go to soccer or baseball practice, but a few students take a unique route.

Some students, like Senior Haven Li, have brought their hobbies to Midtown. Li enjoys making clothes for Midtown theater productions, and in her free time, she sews clothes for herself. Currently, she is making the costumes for the spring musical, “Chicago.”

“It’s sort of natural to sign up for the plays to do costume, and “Chicago” is also my favorite show ever, so I was very excited about it,” Li said. 

Li got into sewing during quarantine, and her interest and success have grown from there.

“I’ve always wanted to do design, and over quarantine, I really started to get into sewing and construction, more so than just designing outfits,” Li said. “Also, over quarantine was our one-act play, “Whirly Gig”, and I did costumes for that with my friend. From there, it just kind of snowballed, and now I do costumes for pretty much all of the shows.”

Not only does Li make clothes for Midtown’s plays, she is also in fashion class and makes clothes for the annual Midtown Fashion Show.

“I’m also in Fashion 4, so I’m working on our spring collection, and I am doing a bridal line,” Li said. “I’m also applying to fashion schools. I want to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in the fall.”

Sophomore Neelam Parsons has also brought his hobby to Midtown. Parsons mountain bikes and has started a club for it at school.

“The mountain biking club is really just a more exciting cross-country club,” Parsons said. “We have races in the same format, sometimes, even at the same locations. However, we always do more challenging, technical trails, of course, on bike instead of foot.”

Parsons has been mountain biking for 10 years now.

“I got into mountain biking when my dad took me,” Parsons said. “I have been doing it for around 10 years since I was 5 or 6.”

Senior Aisling Mahony has been Irish dancing since she was 8 years old. Her dad, who is originally from Ireland, participated in it as a kid and got her involved in it. 

“My dad is from Ireland, and he wanted me to try it,” Mahony said. “When the school I go to opened up, my parents were like, you should try this and see if you like it, and I did. When I was about 8, I started dancing. Our classes were originally in the basement of this church. Since then, we’ve upgraded twice to these studios.”

Mahony is working on her certification to become a teacher for Irish dancing. The process of becoming a teacher is tedious. 

“I’m working on my certification to be a teacher,” Mahony said. “There are 12 exams you have to take. To become certified, you have to dance, be able to explain dances, and be able to teach them. You also have to know the proper terminology for all sorts of traditional dances because a lot of team dances and what are called traditional sets have choreography that is consistent everywhere; every school does the same thing. I’m done taking 10 of 12 of those exams.”

Irish dance comes with a lot of challenges, similar to any other sport. 

The hardest part about it is definitely stamina,” Mahony said. “Imagine sprinting for a minute and a half. And then there’s also the matter of I’m not just running. I have to think about all these different things. And generally, the choreography from the beginning to the end doesn’t decrease in difficulty. In fact, sometimes at the end, the dance gets even harder. So, it’s about being fit enough to be able to do this. It’s really a huge challenge.”

Although there are a lot of hard things about Irish dance, Mahony still enjoys it.

I really love how rhythmic it is,” Mahony said. “I really like hard shoe, which is a lot like tap dancing. I love it because of the way hard shoes sound and the way they flow with the music. I just love to make the beats in the sounds, really.”

While these hobbies can be a lot of work, according to Li, it’s incredibly satisfying to see her hard work come to life. 

Senior Aisling Mahony placed 20th in the Southern region after doing Irish dancing for 10 years.

“My favorite thing about theater costume is that it’s really gratifying to get everything on the rack and then get to see it on stage,” Li said. “It’s just a very direct showcase of all of the work that I put into it because the costumes are really hard to miss. I like being able to see all the actors see the clothes and outfits I designed for them.”