Two presidents are ready to graduate
Keon Feldsien and Ian Gaekwad have a lot in common. Both are Associated Student Body presidents and athletes who are about to graduate from high school this week.
Feldsien will walk in Lake Oswego High School's commencement ceremony this Thursday, and Gaekwad will receive his diploma in Lakeridge High School's event on Friday. They'll be going off in different directions, like so many of the more than 500 graduates this year. But they're all starting at the same point, as eager students in the Lake Oswego School District.
"I'm excited to start to move on and start a new chapter in my life and create new goals and aspirations and move forward," Gaekwad says.
But both he and Feldsien will carry moments with them forever freeze-framed in their minds.
Feldsien says he will never forget "laughing until my face hurts with my friends" over nothing or maybe just a "terrible Netflix movie" like "Kung Fury."
Always good students, both Feldsien and Gaekwad were even featured within one year of each other as Academic Student All-Stars in The Review in 2013. Teachers and staff choose All-Stars based on grades and good behavior. But the more these two All-Stars have changed, the more they have stayed the same.
Feldsien was an eighth-grader at Lake Oswego Junior High School back when he was an All-Star in May 2013. Back then, he loved to play soccer and was a member of the Boy Scouts of America. His favorite class was math, and what he liked most about his school was the people. His advice to other students to be successful was to invest 100 percent in everything you do and to not procrastinate.
A year later, in May 2014, Gaekwad was featured as an All-Star. Then a Lakeridge sophomore, he was involved in basketball and the Associated Student Body. His favorite class was algebra, and what he liked most about his school was the friendly teachers. His advice to other students was to never quit, even when things are difficult.
Both young men aren't so different now, although they both say they've learned so much in high school.
Gaekwad's still involved in basketball, but in his junior and senior years, he added football and track and field. He continues to participate in ASB, but now he's the president.
He still loves his teachers and, in fact, wants to be one. This fall, he plans to attend Oregon State University, where he intends to earn a dual education/psychology major, with a business minor.
How has he changed? Gaekwad, who volunteers to call out Bingo numbers at The Stafford through ASB, says he's become more considerate.
"I've learned to think more about everyone else and to do things for other people," he says.
And just like all those years ago, Feldsien still loves to play soccer, but he has since founded his own "infamous" soccer group, the double-named Team Team Recreational Soccer. And he remains a Boy Scout. He delighted in math so much that now he's essentially going to study it for four years as an environmental engineering major at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.
He may occasionally see Gaekwad calling Bingo because he works at the Stafford, as Feldsien is also in the business of raising funds prior to college.
How has he changed?
"I've gotten a lot more confident and outgoing," Feldsien says.
Feldsien, the young man destined to be ASB president, said during his freshman year that he was a shy kid with a core group of five friends. The six teens gathered for summer backpacking trips every year and hung out at school, but, otherwise, he mostly kept to himself. Then in his sophomore year, Feldsien says that a "mischievous orchestra kid" who was a year older (Eric Yoon, who graduated last year) punked him, but also helped him, by signing him up "for every club under the sun." A baffled Feldsien found himself in Fashion Club and Vegan Club, despite being a T-shirt-wearing omnivore. But he loved meeting so many new people. At the end of sophomore year, he ran for junior class secretary (elections are held for a position served the following year). In his junior year, he loved the responsibility, landing the top position as president for his senior year. Strangely, fitting in had always been hard for him, and he'd heard the advice to get involved, but he didn't understand why at first.
"I've begun to recognize the value in the advice that a lot of people have given me," he says. He added that it helps to have a friend who signs you up for random clubs.
He's also had role models who showed him the type of behavior to imitate.
"Mr. (Chris) Hill has been a really strong role model for what I aspire to be as far as leadership and personality goes," Feldsien says. "He's extremely friendly and easy to talk to and humorous."
He says that urge to find the joy in things has inspired him to grow.
Feldsien and Gaekwad both say they've built some incredible memories at local schools.
Gaekwad will never forget when the Pacers bested the West Linn Lions in basketball, which were 34-0 at that point, during his sophomore year. There was a last-minute shot by a teammate of his.
"We were the only one to beat them, and we beat them on the buzzer," he recalls.
Feldsien remembers how he and his friend Connor Pancoast chose to do a quirky interpretation of junior English teacher Stephanie Leben's assignment to visually draw characters from their reading as they saw them. The two young students for some reason hit upon the idea of making all of the characters look like a "hand turkey" (an outline of a hand) instead of a regular drawing of a bipedal human. Huckleberry Finn was attired in the period clothes you'd expect, but as a hand turkey.
"The funniest part was that we did the assignments well, except as hand turkeys," Feldsien says.
It's bittersweet now for Feldsien and Gaekwad, who are eager to move on, although still linked closely to their life here in Lake Oswego.
"It will be sad, though, because Lakeridge is my home and my family," Gaekwad says.
Feldsien says there are so many people he will remember and carry with him in his heart.
"It's all of these relationships that have become the memorable thing for me," he says.