Ben Case also among top sax players and robotics champs

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: KRISTIAN FODEN-VENCIL - Lakeridge High School senior Ben Case is a musician and a scholar.During Japanese class last week, a Lakeridge High School senior got an unexpected visit.

Nordstrom representatives bearing a giant, ceremonial check for $10,000 and a MacBook Air computer worth about $1,000 stepped into Case’s classroom on Oct. 15 along with his parents, grandparents and school principal. Case learned then he is one of 80 students to pocket a Nordstrom college scholarship out of 11,700 applicants this year.

“It’s still hard to fathom that I won,” said Case, 18.

His calculus teacher, Terry Moore, penned the letter of recommendation for Case’s application.

“Ben is one of the most intellectually curious students I have known in my 25 years of teaching,” Moore said.

Winning the gift — sent directly to a student’s college in annual installments of $2,500 — requires high academic standing and participation in community service and extracurricular activities.

“I just applied, thinking I might as well try,” Case said. “But I didn’t expect to win so this is a complete surprise.”

Case definitely has the right qualifications for the scholarship. He’s earned all As except for one B in his high school career, and he’s taken several advanced placement classes including calculus AB, calculus BC, physics C and physics B.

The young man also excels in his extracurricular activities. The robotics team he’s on, Untitled-8, earned second place last March in the statewide FIRST Tech Challenge Championship Tournament, earning one of 128 spots in the FTC World Championship this past April. The team made it into the top 30 in its division in the championship.

“Ben is highly creative and intelligent,” Moore said. “He also shows strong initiative. ... Ben has an intrinsic thirst for knowledge. He is one of those students who has the potential to do something very special with his life.”

Case and his Untitled-8 teammates also created Play 4 A Cause, a video game development organization using video games to raise awareness about major diseases such as malaria.

Case is well-rounded, snagging first place in the high saxophone category of the Oregon School Activities Association soloist competition last May. He’s not only in his school wind ensemble but also landed a spot in the Oregon Music Education Association all-state wind ensemble and the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble.

In addition, he’s an Eagle Scout and a member of National Honor Society and Japanese National Honor Society. He tutors other students, and he’s helped support the school music program, volunteering to paint music stands and organizing the music library.

Last year, he interned full time at Rockwell Collins, an aviation electronics company, designing and building parts for infrared camera testing using the company’s 3-D printer. He later applied that knowledge.

Moore said Case once assigned a project where students had to demonstrate knowledge of applications of Riemann sums. Such a sum is an area of a region that’s usually under a curve on a graph.

Case “was the first student I have ever had who tied the idea to 3-D printing,” Moore said. “He was able to use mathematics to create a work of art that he sent off to be 3-D printed. The result was creative and unique.”

Case, who has a younger sister, said one thing people may not know about him is that he is “family-centric.”

His mother, Renee Case, said her son spends his scant downtime with family and a core group of close friends. She said he loves to be challenged, is sensitive to others and is highly responsible — she’s never had to remind him to do his homework.

“He’s very mature,” Renee Case said. “I remember his kindergarten teacher saying, even as other kids were looking out the window, he was looking out the window into the next window, that he was deeper than most kids. He was seeing beyond the moment.”

Jillian Daley can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @jilliandaley.

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