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When most think of fifth-graders, they visualize a young mind who explores the densities of long division or the geographical marvels of a globe. When you meet Mansirat Kaur, you quickly realize that her imagination transcends the bounds of classroom walls.

Teeming With Interests
Her imagination transcends the bounds of classroom walls.

Under Mansirat’s brushstrokes, an 18x24 canvas bursts to life with splashes of vibrant acrylic. This is a typical weekend for Mansirat, an artist at heart. The medium-sized canvas is more than fabric; it’s her stage, her platform to express feelings that words may not adequately capture. And hey, she’s a young artist navigating a complex art form: hats off to her!

It’s not solely building acrylic worlds of lore that keep Mansirat engaged, her feet do a type of brushstroke of their own. Since she was eight, this multi-talented young lady has participated in dance, focusing on ballet and hip-hop. There’s a performance in May, so she’s hustling to ensure her routine is up for the challenge. She’s also been swimming since the same age. These two activities combined provide quite a holistic approach to growing up. Dance fosters creativity and expression while swimming instills discipline and focus. They’re two sides of the same coin, really.


If you still need convincing about her multifaceted interests, how about this: she loves reading chapter books and, currently, biographies are her jam. Right now, she’s exploring the life of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. Reading feeds her imagination and exposes her to diverse perspectives. Given that she’s part of a generation that will one day inherit a troubled planet, it’s heartening to see her investing time in understanding the lives of those who shape it.


It’s easy to guess where Mansirat gets her insatiable curiosity and kindness. Some may call them the “wind beneath her wings,” but to her, they’re her parents. They’ve cultivated an environment where she can explore freely, even down to her culinary adventures. She’s a vegetarian, and her parents are more than supportive. “They let me get whatever I want for food,” Mansirat shares. The freedom and support at home are essential in her journey of self-discovery.


Last but certainly not least, let’s talk recognition. Mansirat received the Illinois Principal Association Award last year and was recognized at the IPA student breakfast. These aren’t just pieces of paper or tokens; they serve as stepping stones that build confidence, a clear affirmation that she’s on the right path. Her achievements have provided her with a good deal of wisdom she’d like to pass on. When asked what advice she’d give to her younger self, Mansirat’s answer is simple yet profound, “That I was really good at making friends.” It’s a recognition of her growth, a nod to the journey that’s far from over but has been extraordinary so far.


In Mansirat, we see not just a fifth-grader but a mosaic of possibilities: artist, reader, dancer, swimmer, and loving daughter. Students like her remind us that education isn’t just about textbooks. It’s about nurturing a well-rounded individual who can cause ripples outside the classroom.

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