The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye May 2024
1st Amend Award School

Hey, are those eyeballs real?

©HAWKEYE image credit: Nico Francois

It all began in seventh grade, walking through the doors of Brier Terrace Middle School on that somewhat cloudy day. I was a nervous wreck, wondering how I was going to make it through an entire school year at a school where no one knew me and where I knew no one. 

Of course, the thing I failed to understand at the time was, at some level, everyone was feeling the same nerves I was feeling that first day. Despite all of the fears that come with entering a new school, all I could think was, “what if I accidentally walk into a boys’ bathroom?”

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, “Of all the things she could have been worried about, she was worrying about the bathroom?”

Well, I mean… I was worried about making friends, I was worried about the homework load, I was worried about having all these different teachers after having only one for the majority of elementary school. Heck, I was worried about everything.

Miracle of miracles, I made it through the first two months of middle school, by which point I was lugging around multiple technological devices I didn’t have the slightest idea how to use and heavy braille textbooks that made my back scream at me every time I picked up my backpack. If the word braille in the previous sentence didn’t alert you, I, indeed, have 20/20 vision.

Just kidding! I was born with a hereditary condition called LCA, which limits my sight to only lights and shadows. To put this into context, if you can imagine a world without colors, faces, shapes and objects, that is my world. I can tell whether the lights are on or off, and I can see the vague outline of things if they are big enough and close enough.

If the word braille in the previous sentence didn’t alert you, I, indeed, have 20/20 vision.

— Ritika Khanal

Going back to the middle school though, even after those first few months, it was still a scary place. For six years, I had been at Hazelwood Elementary, where interaction with visually impaired students was common. When I went to BTMS, I was suddenly the only visually impaired student at the school, and as the year continued and my fellow middle schoolers got comfortable with me, the questions began, All of which, if asked any louder, might have been heard three neighborhoods away. 

“Do you have a crush? What do they look like to you? Are you sure you’re going the right way? Are you going to hit me with your stick? Wait, blind people eat candy? Are you sure honors classes are for you?” 

But the one question that stood out to me the most…“Are those eyeballs real?”

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In case any of you are wondering what the answer is to any of those questions, allow me to address them. 

No, I don’t have a crush. 

Yes, I sometimes know where I’m going. 

No, I won’t hit you with my cane unless you stand in my path for more than 35 seconds. 

No, the lack of eyesight doesn’t limit taste buds or my ability to hear.  

Yes, honors classes dictate my life. 

And finally, my eyeballs are indeed real.

Now, I know kids are weird. I fall under that category myself, but hearing these questions from my classmates reminded me that I have a lot to live up to before I can get the mega weird award.

With all that said, if, at any time, you see me around and are curious about something, no matter how weird you think it is, please don’t hesitate to ask. I don’t bite, and I will do my best to answer.

Unless you direct me into the boys’ bathroom, in which case I will hit you with my cane.

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About the Contributors
Ritika Khanal
Ritika Khanal, Co-Editor-In-Chief
Co-Editor-in-Chief Ritika Khanal is in her senior year of high school and is a fourth year staff member of the Hawkeye. This year, she hopes to broaden her skills as a journalist and help tell the stories of those in the community whose voices are rarely heard. Ritika aspires  to become a mentor to other Hawkeye staff and help them discover their talents and passions, just as former editors did for her. Under her leadership, she hopes that the publication will continue to shine as one of the best in the nation and state, while also making a positive impact on the MTHS community. In her free time, Ritika enjoys reading, playing the mandolin and talking to friends.
Nico Francois
Nico Francois, Co-Editor-In-Chief and Graphics Editor
Co-Editor-in-Chief and Graphics Editor Nico Francois is in their senior year of high school and this is their fourth year within the HSM organization. This year, Nico hopes to get to know the incoming staff members and guide them through the program and their interests in journalism. They also want to hone their skills in visual storytelling and writing in order to help cover all pressing events. In their free time, Nico enjoys taking care of their 16 succulents, drawing until they can’t feel their hands and reading about different genetic diseases.
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    Lindsay YazzolinoFeb 3, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    Ritika! I love this article! Your writing voice is so great and made me laugh! I’m not sure if you remember me but I’m the blind researcher you met at MIT when you were a tiny kid! A friend just shared your Times article on Facebook and I was so happy to read it. Sounds like you’re doing great. And feel free to be in touch anytime! I’m very findable online, haha!