13-year-old Mirabelle King is a Stand-out at Berkeley Hall School

Going to the beat of your own drummer.

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  • Written by
    Linda Grasso
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell

Ask Berkeley Hall eighth grader Mirabelle King to describe herself, and she eschews all the typical adjectives used by high-achieving kids. 

“I’m a nerd. No one in my class has been like me for a very long time. I don’t feel the need to keep with things like pop culture and just all the senseless frivolity. While my classmates are listening to the terrible sounds of some rapper, I’m listening to David Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure.’ I’ve never felt the need to fit in. I see myself as a structured nonconformist.” 

“If you strive to be the best, then people expect the best from you.”

What she does conform to is good grades. A straight-A student, Mirabelle was selected to receive the school’s Ruth Loeb Merit Scholarship this past year.

“If you strive to be the best, then people expect the best from you. Sure, you put some pressure on yourself, but I think you get more opportunity,” she notes.

She’s always been a doer. Back in third grade, she voiced disappointment that there was no school newspaper at Berkeley Hall. “My dad said, ‘Why don’t you start one?’ So I did.” She also vied for changes to the school uniform policy, which she believed unfairly targeted female students.

Her strong sense of initiative goes back even further. When she was 5 years old she came up with the idea of using upcycled materials to create stuffed animals for sale and donating a portion of the proceeds to charities. She has worked on the concept through the ensuing years, researching and developing stuffed-animal prototypes, and plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign later this year.

“We will take upcycled fabrics and recycled plastic and turn them into stuffed animals. We want to keep plastics out of stream. I also really want to create a place where we can sell the stuffed animals. They are not just for people who shop at the back of vegan candle shops.”

Oh, and then there’s the YA book she is working on.

“It is an allegory for racism. The story is about the first human—a girl—in an all-monster school. Racism is viewed as a one-sided experience. In this story, both sides do terrible things. It is that experience—what happens when different people coexist.”

Her dad, Matthew Yang King, is an actor (Riverdale), and her mom, Catherine, is an artist—and she describes her two younger siblings as artistic and imaginative. Although she comes from a family of creatives, Mirabelle, always one to do her own thing, has other aspirations. 

“I’d like to go into marine biology when I grow up. And just like when I’m addressing topics like racism and sexism, with environmentalism, I want people to question me.”