Kyle Upham and the American Standard


Photo by Kyle Upham

Senior Kyle Upham, center, with his siblings at a Las Vegas Golden Knights game.

By Zach Smith, Reporter

He shook my hand as we entered one of the small side rooms in the LRC prior to the interview we scheduled during one of our daily lifting sessions: his grip was firm, a sign of confidence, yet he did not squeeze my hand until my veins popped. After closing the tar-black door, the room suddenly fell so quiet that one could hear the dripping water on the floor in the room behind the gray walls. Someone should probably fix that. We both laughed at the radical shift in volume and made fun of the large LCD screen across the desk, joking it was a waste of taxpayer money. While we had radically different political views, we both agreed the school spent too much money on opulent decoration and not enough on things that would help the students.

While our interview was only supposed to last 20 minutes, the conversation went much longer than anticipated because I was so enveloped in the chronicle of the one and only: senior Kyle Upham.

Kyle leans more towards the conservative end of the political spectrum, because he was “raised in a family with these beliefs.” He is open-minded though, and had much to say during the school’s government simulation in the spring. 

Although he may disagree with others on various political issues, according to Lisa Upham, Kyle’s mother, “[Kyle] feels that what people have to say is more important than their political party and is friends with many, even if their beliefs are different than his own.”

American Government teacher Candace Fikis said, “Kyle is passionate about politics and economics. Give him a current and controversial topic and he will devour it. Many days I could not get him to stop talking about an issue brought up in class or a bill issue Government students were addressing for the legislative simulation. He volunteered many times in class to be the class chairperson and served as a minority committee chair for our mock committee hearings, ensuring Parliamentary procedures were followed and that all sides of the political spectrum could get their time to speak on issues.”

Politics was not on the agenda, however, when we sat down together in April. He was somewhat slouched over in his chair, sporting a navy blue baseball cap and jacket, both provided by the school baseball team. He seems, on the surface, like what one thinks of when a high-school senior pops in their head: tall, broad shoulders and chin, short hair, reasonably fit, and active in sports.

I told him that most of the questions for the interview were cooked up as a result of information about him from his neighbor and Wildcat Chronicle reporter Alyssa Amabile. He adjusted his posture a little while laughing softly, and his eyes widened before quickly falling back to their regular relaxed state. 

One of Kyle’s many pets, an orange tabby named Paprika. (Photo by Kyle Upham)

The Upham household consists of Kyle’s mother, father, younger brother and sister, and so many pets that he “didn’t want to count them all.” 

After a sarcastic sigh, Kyle listed his pets, which included “a snake, three cats, a bearded dragon, a tarantula, a dog, and a tortoise.” 

He looked like he aged several years after reciting the list. 

After a brief break and terrible segue from birds to his job, Kyle provided an anecdote about the two jobs he held in high school, one of which was at a local car wash. He disliked that position, so he started a very brief stint at a packaging joint. 

Nonchalantly, Kyle said that this second job ended abruptly after another 3 days due to a car accident. The accident was either “[his] fault, or fifty-fifty. The guy was going forty-five miles per hour.” 

Kyle did not seem to care much about his safety, more so if the car was insured, and it was.

Many observers take notice of Kyle’s outward composure and inner drive. Junior Isa Poulterer said, “Kyle’s great because he’s just so chill. Like you can approach him and talk to him about anything and he’ll make conversation with you. He’s also a really good sport.”

As senior Alex Garcia said, Kyle is “intelligent, involved, determined, driven, and creative.”

At home, Kyle, a Vegas native, isloyal, funny, smart, considerate, friendly, and adventurous,” according to mom Lisa Upham.

Determination runs through the veins of the Upham family. Lisa, a midwife, also owns A Baby Naturally, a baby boutique seated in Wheaton that specializes in “meet[ing] your needs from belly, to birth, to baby”, as proudly displayed on the website. Kyle’s father, Mike Upham, works as an engineer at T-Mobile.

And despite his motivation to pursue a career as an engineer, programming and sports take up the bulk of Kyle’s free time as of late. Kyle is an avid Linux user, specifically the Arch Linux fork of the OS. While trying to understand Arch or Linux in general is a bit beyond most people’s programming skills, he was able to understand the OS with little trouble, which he said “is something that even most self-proclaimed, tech-savvy people would struggle greatly with.”

The Varsity baseball team, including Kyle, pictured second from the left in the top row. (Photo by Lifetouch)

Kyle is also an avid athlete and has been on WEGO’s baseball team since freshman year. His skills are “about average,” he claims.

Coach TJ Nall disagreed, and said, “Kyle is an amazing teammate.  He’s always looking to do what is best for the team.  He never shies away from putting in the necessary work to get better and is always ready to contribute for the betterment of our club.”

Kyle is incredibly smart which makes complete sense why he is becoming an engineer. He always does seem to be one step ahead and amazes the team with his wits. Aside from his intelligence, Kyle is extremely nice and is always encouraging the team to do their best, even when we are down. He is so friendly and makes sure everyone is doing well. He is such a positive addition to the team and helps everyone whenever he can. Kyle is a positive influence on our team and brings out the best in everyone,” said Varsity baseball player and teammate Jake Holloway, a junior.

Kyle also did some time on the basketball team, but left because he “wasn’t very good [and] sat on the bench the whole time.” Although he is far above average height for a high school senior, he explained he “wasn’t very coordinated.” 

Fishing – and generally being outdoors – comprise the rest of his spare time. 

Kyle laughed and said, “[This is] really odd because being outdoors and good at computer stuff tend to not mix.” 

A photo of the Upham Family decked out in Las Vegas Golden Knights gear. (Photo by Kyle Upham)

Nonetheless, sister Erin Upham, a junior at West Chicago Community High School, said, “Since we are only sixteen months apart in age, we have a lot of the same friends and spend time together doing similar activities such as rollerblading and biking.” 

Musically speaking, Kyle said, “I have been playing the piano since I was eight, but I’m still not very great. I’m okay I guess.”

He prefers to listen to country and lo-fi beats in his free time or when working on his projects. I tried to encourage him a little by showing him some clips I found of him playing the piano, but he was still sheepish about admitting his talents.

And of course, academics have long been important for Kyle. He earned high marks in a number of AP and honors classes throughout his high school career. Sister Erin said, “Kyle is a great brother and role model.  We get along most of the time now that we are both in high school.  He’s super smart, which has been handy for me since he can help me with my homework, especially in AP physics.”

He studied economics first semester and asked numerous questions about the topics we were studying because he was curious to know more.  That led him to continue to study economics in more depth in AP Macroeconomics this semester.  His inquisitive nature shined through in both classes,” said Fikis.

Kyle’s self-motivation is evident and will propel him to success in the future. Mother Lisa said, “In five years, Kyle will have graduated from University of Illinois and started working his first engineering job.  I see him staying in the Chicagoland area to be close to family, since that is important to him, and potentially in a relationship.  His dad and I met while both attending the University of Illinois in the fall of 1997 and have been married for nearly twenty-one years now, so who knows!”

What is clear, though, is that Kyle “is hardworking, transparent, consistent, and always trying to find the good in things,” said good friend and senior Nick White.