Expressing yourself can be a burdensome task for most, but for Thomas De Groff, creating and sharing what’s inside his head—whether that be through his art, writing, or verbally—is what he does best.
De Groff, a senior at NS, explained that art is something he’s always had a genetic knack for.
Both of his parents are artists and have since become art teachers.
Most who only know of him in passing tend to think of De Groff as the art guy. While this label might bother most, he doesn’t mind it as much.
“I’m kind of conflicted,” De Groff said. “If I see someone who comes up to me and says, ‘Oh, I wish I could draw like you,’ I want to say, ‘Well you could, with practice.’ And I think that’s true, to a certain extent, but at the same time I think there is some motivation and talent involved.”
Along with being a visual artist, De Groff has always been interested in writing, as he sees that as another way to express and create.
“I’m really just interested in any way you can tell a story,” De Groff said. “I think a lot of people discredit or disqualify certain media… There are a lot of writers in fields that you don’t really expect.”
De Groff joined the NS Times journalism staff this year, where he writes articles and comics for the paper.
“Journalism interests me, except for the fact that it’s really a dying field,” De Groff said. “But then I’ll see these documentaries of some journalist going to Cambodia or Liberia or something… I think part of my idea of wanting to tell stories for a living is going to corners of the world and telling stories that wouldn’t have otherwise been told.”
Self expression has been something that has defined De Groff from a very young age. He was writing before he could read.
“I didn’t know how to spell the words, but I wanted to put them down on paper,” De Groff said. “So I cut up some paper, made a little booklet, stapled them together, and then I’d write a little story. I’d ask my mom, ‘How do you spell cat?’ I wasn’t reading books, I just wanted to tell my own stories.”
De Groff had a childhood different from most here at NS. He was born in Logan, UT, and moved to Price, UT when he was five. His family lived there until they moved to Spring City in 2010 when De Groff was ten years old. He was also homeschooled from second to eighth grade.
“Price is kind of a ghetto town,” De Groff said. “But the street I lived on was really great. There were just a lot of families with kids our age, you could play in anyone’s backyard, no borders or rules really… I remember working inside on math problems with my mom, then I’d see [the kids] come home from school, and my mom say, ‘Alright, I guess you can go out and play now.’ It was just a really great environment for me to grow up in.”
Though being homeschooled for that long and then being put into high school was challenging, De Groff thinks it’s what was right for him and his siblings.
“I don’t think homeschool is for everyone,” De Groff said. “It definitely shaped who I am today, but I don’t think I would homeschool my future kids… It was quite the commitment for my parents to homeschool five kids. It seems to have worked out; we’re all pretty smart.”
Though he credits his homeschool experience as a large factor to why he has his creative personality, De Groff doesn’t think creativity and expression is dependent on home versus public schooling.
“I think [homeschooling] definitely allowed me to flourish, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say the school system is killing creativity,” De Groff said. “You can’t just boil it down to one or the other. I think there are a lot of creative kids going to this school, and there are a lot of homeschooled kids that are wasting their time.”
Rather, he thinks it depends on not your education situation, but your home and personal situation.
“You can have a boring schedule at school with nothing expressive or [artistic],” De Groff said, “but if you go home and your parents encourage creativity, with an environment that really nurtures ideas—that’s what made the biggest impact on me.”