Harper Keim shines as a positive role model at school, in sports, at church, and at home as the oldest of five siblings.
The 14-year-old, who is now a ninth grader at Central High School this school year, is ready for a new year. Sitting down at her favorite coffee shop this summer, she says she’s already had a taste of the high school experience.
During her 8th grade year at South Middle School, she had tried out for the Central softball and Central tennis teams. With her athleticism, Harper made both.
“I really like the girls I’ve met on the softball and tennis teams,” says Harper. “It’s nice to already have friends at Central.”
Harper ‘s entire family is involved with sports. This summer, Harper played softball for the U-14 Crush team. In fact, four out of the five children in the Keim family played softball or baseball.
“We practically live at the fields in the summer,” jokes Harper. “We’re a very active family.”
Over the summer, Harper also had the chance to travel to New York City and Washington, D.C., with the South Middle School Travel Club.
“We saw the Broadway musical ‘Once on This Island,’” which I absolutely loved,” says Harper.
Harper has been very involved in activities throughout her time at South Middle School. One of her favorite roles was serving as a Student Ambassador, where she helped mentor her peers on academic and personal issues. She also helped organize school field days.
Harper says she enjoys being a leader and plans to run for Student Council and participate in leadership forums at Central.
“I also want to do drama,” she says, her eyes sparkling. “I could see myself on stage.”
Although Harper has dyslexia, she excels academically, consistently making the honor roll. She loves PE, English and Science, and she’s learned to juggle studying with sports.
“Over the years, she has learned how to better manage her dyslexia,” says Harper’s mom, Kelly. “She’s had wonderful teachers who have invested extra time in giving her tips and strategies to better understand what she’s reading.”
When Harper’s not at school or playing sports, she can usually be found at First Christian Church, where her mom is a youth pastor. Harper likes to help with children in the nursery, and she is dedicated to her youth group.
“My faith has guided me to who I am today,” says Harper. “If there’s something going on in my life, I pray about it, and God helps me through it.” Harper was baptized three years ago on her grandparents’ wedding anniversary. “It was a gift from me to them.”
Harper is also passionate about autism awareness. Her brother Derrus, who is five years old, is autistic and has inspired Harper to become an occupational therapist someday. She is very close to Derrus, as well as her other siblings—sister Laikin, 11, brother Andrik, 7, and her youngest brother Ryence, 3.
“We love each other and will be there for each other, no matter what,” says Harper. “I try to be a good role model for my siblings, because they watch my every move.”
Part of being a good role model includes volunteering for the Autism Society’s 5K run, where Harper helps with water stations.
“I tell people that autistic people are just the same as we are,” says Harper, “so don’t look at them or treat them any differently.”
Her dad, Brian, says describes his daughter as outgoing and helpful. “She is also determined, passionate, kind and loyal,” he says. “She is turning into a very nice young adult.”
When she’s not busy taking on the world, Harper’s most loved activities include going to Denver Rockies baseball games (she saw her first one last year), attending the Hills Alive Music Festival in Rapid City , and eating candy. “I love sugar!” she exclaims with a grin.
“I know Harper is going to make a big difference in the world,” said her grandmother, Mary. And with Harper’s ambition to succeed and drive to do good, anything is possible.
words by Molly Barari
photos by Jesse Brown Nelson