Our Next Grizzly Nation Standout is...

Esperanza "Espy" DeSpain


Espy is a Sophomore at Grand Oaks and a member of the G.O. Debate Team. She has done an exemplary job being an officer during this exciting time as G.O. Debate has had its debut in competition. Espy is an outstanding person of great character consisting of authenticity and inclusion of others. Each of our Standouts are selected for different reasons but they all share one common factor, they are all people that want to make a difference in their school, community and even our world. Sometimes we do not think what we do makes a difference but in each of our chosen Standouts they are doing things bigger then they even realize. A simple smile or an encouraging word all while carrying yourself in a way that makes others know you are a person who strives for excellence. Espy is a perfect example of this character. Many of her teachers and fellow students around the school love her. She is always smiling, kind, compassionate and is always encouraging others. There is truly something special in Espy, her light is bright. Her "Espy Spirit" just carries through to everyone she meets and Grand Oaks is fortunate to have a student such as her.


1. Please tell us a little about yourself, grade, family, pets?

I love to read, cook vegan meals, do yoga, listen to music (I love Cumbia, Classic Rock, Classic Motown, and Rap) I love the outdoors and spending time with my siblings. I come from a large family of ten kids in total. There are three boys and seven girls including myself. I love my family more than anything in the world, they are my everything. I am a very curious and passionate person. I enjoy helping people in whatever way I can, and I love to learn about new topics and just about new things in general.

2. What activities are you involved in at Grand Oaks?

At Grand Oaks I am involved in speech and debate (I am part of the executive council), choir, and Student council (I am the head of the energy and environmental committee)

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​3. What do you like best about being a student at Grand Oaks?

What I like best about being a student at Grand oaks High school is that I get to be a trail blazer and forge my own path. By being the first graduating class I get the chance to have the complete freedom to spread my wings and explore and create, without being stifled.

4. You are involved with debate which involves public speaking, please share how you are able to effectively communicate with a large group?

I am able to effectively communicate with a large group of people by first remaining calm, and secondly taking my time and not rushing, and lastly by being confident. I try to never act shy and keep eye contact so I can work to really connect to my audience.

5. Do you get nervous before a tournament and how do you cope with nerves?

Well, sometimes tournaments can be pretty nerve racking. I get over my nerves by remembering that everyone is human. I tell myself “girl you got this, these people ain't got nothing on you.” Public speaking in general is a mental game, you have to build yourself up, and even if you mess up a speech or a rebuttal be understanding and light hearted about the situation. You will get better with time and practice!

6. What career path are you thinking about after High School?

To be perfectly honest…. I have no clue! Right now I am exploring my interests and weighing my options. I think my career field could be something to do with writing, public speaking, and outreach, and no matter what helping the most people I can, perhaps social work, politics, or diplomatic relations.

7. Who has been your role model and why?

My mother is my role mother because she is strong, deeply caring, hardworking, and brave. She has always been there to nurture and love me unconditionally. She is my sun my moon, and my first true love. Despite the adversity she has faced in her life, she always displays unwavering resilience. Perhaps one of the things that make my mom a true role model, is her ability to acknowledge her own mistakes and faults. She shares stories and insights about her life and encourages all of her ten children to learn from her mistakes and gives all of us tools to forge a different path for ourselves. There is nothing that my mother wouldn’t do to protect those around her, in many ways she is not just a parent to just her own biological children, but to all children. She is the smiling face, the comforting hug, the encouraging compliment. She is both fierce and gentle, a true champion of the innocent and down trod, She is my everything.

8. All of us have had to work through situations, explain a time where you grew from adversity.

Last year, my first year in high school was really tough on me. Everything was so new and exciting, and it was the first time I took higher level classes while at the same time trying to balance extra curricular activities.(the first in my family to ever to do so) During this time I also underwent a complete lifestyle change by becoming vegan. Like, I said everything was new and exciting but everything was also extremely stressful and overwhelming. To make matters worse I was constantly beating myself down by comparing myself to other kids. I would look at them and be like “dang, these kids got it going on, they're a lot smarter than me, and much more capable than I'll ever be, I will never be good enough”. Due to this toxic way of thinking I became increasingly depressed to the point where on some mornings I couldn't even lift my head off my pillow. There were times where I felt so frustrated and hopeless that I just wanted to close my eyes and never wake up. It's only because of the love from my family, the Grace of God, and my inner strength that I managed to get through those dark times. Over the course of that year I realized something very life changing for me. I am extremely loyal, I'm a ride and die type of chick to others, so why can't I be that way to myself? I realized that I alone was in charge of my self esteem and self worth. I needed to be loyal to myself by building my self up, and not be betraying myself by indulging in self hate and pity. I came away from my freshman year learning that trying new things and putting myself out there can be terrifying, but that I am strong enough to get through it. In short “No matter how many times I may get my butt kicked, I'll pick myself up every time and keep going on towards life's next challenge.

9. If you could meet anyone who would it be and why?

I would want to to meet Chicano civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, because I admire her courage, hard work, and dedication. It's because of trail blazers like her, that our people have the freedom and opportunities we do today.

10. Please share something interesting or funny about yourself.

Many people don't believe this story when I tell them, but I swear it's true! You can even check with my parents and the Kansas City public records office. When I was only a couple months old I died in a level 4 tornado that destroyed urban areas in 2002. My mother was home alone with me when the storm struck, she heard on the radio that a possible tornado was coming but didn't think much of it because it seemed to be a low risk warning. After hearing a radio broadcast she decided to set me in my crib and walk out to the porch to get her potted plants. She walked on to the porch got her plants turned back around and the whole house was completely blown away, me along with it. She began to search frantically among the wreckage for me and eventually found me under a brick wall. The wall was being slightly supported by a fallen speaker, so the wall wasn't completely crushing me but I was still stuck. My mother forcefully pulled me out from under the wall, and found that I was blue, my eyes were rolled in the back of my head, and I had no pulse, I was clinically dead. She brought me back to life by performing emergency C.P.R. Honestly it was a true miracle that we both survived! We were recovered by paramedics and taken to the hospital where I was put on a breathing machine and given x rays and other tests. By the Grace of God nothing was broken and I was fine, but the doctors warned that due to the lack of oxygen to my brain I would have acute to severe mental disabilities and could develop physically slow. Well, 16 years later I have proven the doctors wrong, I am very blessed and fortunate to be alive and healthy. That's why I get super excited about seemingly small things and why I like to be really engaged with people, I don't take the small things for granted. That's also why my parents say I was aptly named Esperanza, meaning hope.

Congratulations Espy!