Oh, That’s Kai! He Played at Assembly!


Kai practicing. Credit: Kai Paik

Everyone at assembly was at the edge of their seats through his performance. You couldn’t hear a single sound in the Chapel, and in the end everyone ended up giving a standing ovation for the brave, confident, piano-playing freshman.

Kai Paik, a freshman with a passion for piano, played a beautiful piece to the Williston community in assembly on Friday, January 18. Kai’s journey to the stage started in first grade; according to him, playing piano was, and continues, to be a way it is a way from him to set his mind at ease.

“Once I play the piano, it’s really easy to relax and forget about stress,” Kai, a day student from Northampton, said. “I have lived in many places, from probably the most boring place in America, Iowa, to the middle of Seattle.” Playing piano, Kai said, “always [came] with me, so I have been able to [play the] piano no matter where I live, and that’s what I like about it.”

Kai’s fellow advisee, Tevah Rose, another freshman, was amazed by the amount of courage it took for Kai to get up on stage.

“It was really impressive,” she said, “I was really proud of him.”

Even though the campus saw Kai as a brave performer on stage, he still faced stage fright, as many people — students as well as faculty — do in front of the entire school.

“Honestly I was a little scared, I have a bit of stage fright all the time,” Kai recalled. “But what I did, I just decided to block out any negative thoughts I had about [how] it isn’t going to go well, or what if I make a mistake, and I just decided to keep playing.”

“I felt pretty relieved,” Kai added, “but then its not like the whole time I was worrying I was going to make a mistake, I was just more hoping that it sounded good.” Kai said, modestly, that he was “really happy that it sounded okay.”

Ms. Motyka was astonished not just by Kai’s piano prowess, but by the guts it took to play in front of everyone.

“I was very impressed with Kai’s performance, I thought he was very brave to go up in front of the whole assembly because I am an adult, and won’t do it,” Motyka admitted.

Others on campus, including English teacher Ashley Jenkins, Caleb Stern ’19, Louisa Weed ’20, and fellow freshman Noe Perry-Greene, were fascinated by Kai’s piece.

“I think it was really beautiful,” Noe said in awe. “I think he has an insane amount of talent and to be able to get up there, and just lose yourself in this music world is really impressive.”

Not only is Kai’s determination towards piano admirable, but he has many other talents as well.

“I am a pretty active chess player,” he said, noting that his interest in the game was sparked in first grade, right around the time he began playing piano. “And I am trying to get other people to start playing chess and also improve myself.”

As far as the logistics of running a successful chess club as a freshman, Kai explained, “it’s very difficult because I have a bit of a busy schedule. But I am trying to keep regular meeting going, [and] hopefully the Why Not Speak? Day workshop (on January 29) will help with that.”

Kai also chooses to grab the opportunities given to him at Williston to try new things. Because, as he put it, why not?

“I decided to just put myself out there, starting in ninth grade, because I feel like ninth grade in high school is just a good time to start becoming more open to new things,” said Kai. “Because nothing really has huge consequences if you fail.”

As fearless and beautiful as his piano playing is, Kai is equally as humble and gracious off stage. He isn’t looking for awards, or a regular spot at assembly to impress everyone. His wants are on a much smaller scale.

“Hopefully now people can recognize me and say, ‘Oh that’s Kai, he played the piano at the assembly,'” Kai smiled. “I feel like a lot people didn’t know me before I decided to play.”