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Meet the brand new SWAG

Student Writers Advisory Group members hail from Lake Oswego, Lakeridge, West Linn, Wilsonville and Riverdale high schools


REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - This year's SWAG members are: Anisha Arcot, Ava Eucker, Olivia Fuson, Nina Heidgerken, Christine Hong, Xander Klas, Talia Lichtenberg, Kriti Rastogi, Anna Spear, Anna Speer, Andrew Tesoriero, Dan Tudorica, Claire Williams and Serena Zhang.Feeling down about the state of the world? The Student Writers Advisory Group (SWAG) can help.

Composed of students from Lake Oswego, Lakeridge, West Linn, Wilsonville and Riverdale high schools, SWAG members craft insightful articles throughout the school year on a range of topics. Their stories can take you back to a time when you had stars in your eyes that made everything seem bigger and more beautiful, and when you had that feeling you get in your knees when you’re gathering yourself to leap into a deep pool.

SWAG was created in an effort to get more student voices in The Review, West Linn Tidings and Wilsonville Spokesman. The first group of students from high schools in those papers’ coverage areas gathered in fall 2014. SWAG kicked off the 2015-16 school year at a meeting in September; the group’s first set of stories — for which students interviewed each other — is in this edition.

This year’s SWAG members are: Anisha Arcot, Ava Eucker, Olivia Fuson, Nina Heidgerken, Christine Hong, Xander Klas, Talia Lichtenberg, Kriti Rastogi, Anna Spear, Anna Speer, Andrew Tesoriero, Dan Tudorica, Claire Williams and Serena Zhang.

FUSONCongratulations to our phenomenal 14.

Lake Oswego High School: Olivia Fuson

There’s something to be said for a high school senior who isn’t swept away in the foaming tide of college applications. Such an individual must have a farsighted outlook that extends with a rare prescience beyond the next stepping stone.

Olivia Fuson is one such person.

Hardly the myopic specialist secluded in a fortress of books, Fuson wants to become not just a great careerist, but a great person. Currently, she wants to pursue an interdisciplinary pre-medical major — doubtless a decision inspired by recent trends in medicine toward a friendlier, more human aspect.

She doesn’t intend to be a gear or wire in the machine, but something greater and more impactful: an innovator and reformer.

But for now, she’s an English nerd who spends her free time volunteering at the public library and the McKenzie Teen Lounge. Her life seems fairly typical: schoolwork and college applications (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Pomona College, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University) and dignified shadows wrought in stucco and student centers.

In her spare time, Fuson enjoys visiting the beach; something about the open sea and crashing coastlines brings back a little bit of life’s vigor and inspires appreciation for those things that are truly essential in life: health, family and happiness.

So, like so many of we happy few, Fuson is a person with eyes turned toward the future and whose mind imagines what we will be in this grand world of beaches and books.

— Dan Tudorica

TUDORICA

LOHS: Dan Tudorica

Amid the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, a young writer prepared to embark on a cross-country journey to a new life. Leaving the grandeur of the big city behind, he packed up his belongings and he and his family headed off to a small town in the Pacific Northwest called Lake Oswego in the summer of 2008.

Arriving in LO and attending public school was a big shock for Dan Tudorica, a young man who had only known education in the form of a small Catholic school.

“There was so much more freedom here,” he recalls. “There are no uniforms, you can get up and go to the restroom or talk to people whenever you want. It was wonderful.”

Tudorica has come a long way from the apprehensive boy who arrived at Oak Creek Elementary School as a stranger. He has continued with his writing, and he is now a distinguished member of the LOHS Speech and Debate team, competing in prose, policy and radio events.

“I want to compete at the national tournaments and eventually make it to the Tournament of Champions, a place where the scholarships are said to flow like wine,” Tudorica says.

Currently applying to prestigious universities such as Harvard and Princeton, Tudorica hopes to go into medicine, just like his parents.

“I’ve spent a lot of time around the hospital,” Tudorica says.

Whether he does end up in medicine or pursues a different track entirely, one thing is certain: There is a bright future awaiting this driven young student of LOHS.

— Olivia Fuson

Lakeridge High School: Ava Eucker

EUCKERAva Eucker is a 16-year-old sophomore attending Lakeridge High School. She has two younger sisters, Penelope and Audrey, and three pets: Kate, Lucy and Blumpy.

When she’s not taking care of her sisters, Eucker enjoys competitive rifle shooting, especially with an air rifle and a 22-gauge small bore, and has been involved in the sport for two years. She has competed in Junior Olympics in Colorado, and says she loves watching “Gossip Girl,” hiking with friends or volunteering with the National Charity League.

Eucker describes herself as “spunky, outgoing, positive, kind and understanding,” but she is much more than just words. Eucker, always giving back and sharing her kindness, has an outstanding personality and possesses a positive attitude and the strength to influence others.

— Christine Hong

HONG

LOHS: Christine Hong

A 17-year-old senior at Lake Oswego High School, Christine Hong is a girl of many talents. On sunny spring afternoons, you might find her acing killer serves on tennis courts, baking chocolate chip cookies or spending time with her friends.

Aside from her passion for tennis, Hong enjoys shopping, traveling and cozying in to watch “Grey’s Anatomy” with a cup of chai. When asked how she would describe herself, Hong said, “I am honest, open-minded and social.”

Her open mind and heart have led her to establish an up-and-coming program called Raising Hope. This program accepts donations and raises money to accommodate the needs of local homeless people.

Born in Korea, Christine has since lived in Idaho, California and Oregon. Hong’s cultural diversity, positive attitude and large heart shape the beautifully mature and kind girl she is.

— Ava Eucker

KLAS

Riverdale High School: Xander Klas

Like most high school seniors, Xander Klas finds waking up the hardest part of his day. Yet it’s hard to imagine Klas, with his infectious confidence and charming kindness, not being in a constant state of readiness for life. Though born in Boston, Klas is a true Portlander and has lived mostly within the greater Portland area.

With doctors as parents and a driven sister, he proclaims himself the “intellect of the family,” with a hint of irony in his voice. At Riverdale High School, a small school where “everyone knows everyone,” Klas has made his mark with his participation in Mock Trial, Model United Nations and National Honor Society. His favorite class, Western Civilization, feeds his love of history.

He hopes one day to incorporate his passion into his future career, but for now spends his time helping his Mock Trial team to an arduous but fruitful third-place finish at the state competition and gaining journalism experience as a member of SWAG. He aims to always seek understanding of others and of himself, and has the tenacity to propel himself forward through any challenge.

— Talia Lichtenberg

LICHTENBERG

West Linn High School: Talia Lichtenberg

Talia Lichtenberg is a determined and idealistic senior at West Linn High School.

She has a keen interest in medicine; in college, she wants to pursue that passion by working toward Pre-Med and Epidemiology degrees.

In fact, Lichtenberg has already distinguished herself in that field, taking first place at the International Science and Engineering Fair for her work on Alzheimer’s disease.

At home, Lichtenberg enjoys playing the French horn and listening to classical music. She hopes to play in the Oregon Symphony one day.

As part of SWAG, Lichtenberg is interested in writing honest reports on politics and other topics she feels passionate about.

— Xander Klas

SPEAR

West Linn High School: Anna Spear

Anna Spear is a sophomore at West Linn High School with interests in many different activities.

Spear participates in equestrian vaulting, which means she performs gymnastics tricks on top of a horse. World travel is something Spear loves to do in her spare time. Her favorite trip was to the Czech Republic, where she took a bike tour through the countryside with her family before going to Prague.

Spear says she wishes she could have more time in each day to manage her busy schedule. Some strengths Spear takes pride in are her leadership skills, as well as her dedication and hard work. Doing whatever it takes to get into the college of her choice is Spear’s goal for the rest of her high school career.

— Nina Heidgerken

HEIDGERKEN

Lakeridge: Nina Heidgerken

Nina Heidgerken is a sophomore at Lakeridge High School. Her favorite subjects in school are history and English. Heidgerken would like to become an elementary school teacher.

She is currently involved in Lakeridge’s production of “Legally Blonde.” She plays the role of a Delta Nu sorority sister. Heidgerken plays the viola in her school’s orchestra, and it is also a favorite hobby outside of school. She loves to play softball, and she is on Lakeridge’s team.

Her favorite trip was to Mexico, where she and her church group lived in an orphanage for a week and volunteered there. Heidgerken’s favorite memory is being on a houseboat with her friends on Lake Shasta in California, where they fell asleep under the stars and woke up to the sunrise.

Heidgerken has a great sense of humor and loves to joke around, which helps her to take the negativity out of stressful situations. She is a fantastic leader and is excited to see what the rest of high school has to offer.

— Anna Spear

ZHANG

LOHS: Serena Zhang

Serena Zhang is a junior at Lake Oswego High School. She currently takes journalism and AP English and writes for the school newspaper, but her love for writing began when she was very young and crafted a story entitled “Smelly the Cat.”

Zhang also has a vast appreciation for literature. While she has come across far too many works to choose a favorite (the “Harry Potter” series being an obvious exception, of course), she is usually drawn to novels with flawed, realistic and relatable characters.

Although she is not the best when it comes to reading maps, Zhang always takes a step in the right direction when writing about topics she cares about. She uses her writing as an outlet to express her views on the important social and political issues of our time, some of which include racism, feminism, animal rights, the refugee crisis and many more.

When she is not writing or curled up with a good book, she can be found playing her violin, watching movies or watching YouTube videos. Zhang lives by this mantra: “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

— Kriti Rastogi

RASTOGI

LOHS: Kriti Rastogi

April, August and Antarctica. That’s one way to sum up Kriti Rastogi in just three words.

April marks the start of her adventure. In the years to follow, this Portland baby would grow to have a penchant for chocolate and a pet peeve for incessant pen clicking.

August means a driving permit. Despite having a hard time with directions, Rastogi is determined to see the world. She plans to become a pediatrician and strives to have a positive impact on her community.

Where might that community be? According to Rastogi, any continent in the world. She has a tendency for boredom and a thirst for adventure. She admits Antarctica might be a bit difficult to access, but equipped with her permit and her passion, Rastogi is prepared to face her adventures head-on.

— Serena Zhang

WILLIAMS

Lakeridge: Claire Williams

Claire Williams is a junior at Lakeridge High School with a multitude of interests — most notably art and acting. Williams has won multiple awards for her artwork, including a Gold Key at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Williams specializes in paint, mixed media and charcoal pieces.

Aside from art, Williams loves theater and has been in five productions at Lakeridge. Her most recent role was in last year’s freshman-sophomore play, “The Philadelphia Story,” as Sandy Lord, the daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia family.

Williams has attended the Model United Nations conference in Eugene, and is fascinated by history and science. She plans for a career in art or science, and is thrilled to be a member of the SWAG team.

— Andrew Tesoriero

TESOREIRO

Lakeridge: Andrew Tesoriero

Lakeridge High School senior Andrew Tesoriero’s favorite activities, acting and writing, reflect his creative mind and appreciation for the arts. Tesoriero’s involvement in the staging of “Legally Blonde” at Lakeridge this fall with be his sixth theatrical production at the school.

Among his friends and acquaintances, Tesoriero has a reputation for his horror and science fiction writing, but he also enjoys black comedy, poetry and fantasy. As a junior, he won a Silver Key in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards; he is currently writing a novel set in a fantastical parallel universe, which he has been working on for the last six years.

He is interested in a future career as an author, actor or screenwriter.

— Claire Williams

ARCOT

West Linn: Anisha Arcot

Anisha Arcot is a sophomore at West Linn High School. Her favorite class at school is honors law, and she also enjoys sailing for the Willamette Sailing Club. Arcot spent her eighth-grade year studying in Malaysia and India.

Arcot speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese; during her second semester of freshman year, she studied abroad in China. She hopes to study abroad more in the future. Arcot enjoys learning about new languages and cultures; curently, she is studying Spanish and French.

In her free time, Arcot enjoys hanging out with friends, reading and writing. Arcot loves to travel; her favorite place to go to is India to visit her family.

Arcot is returning to SWAG for her second year and is excited to continue writing.

— Anna Speer

SPEER

West Linn: Anna Speer

Anna Speer is a sophomore at West Linn High School and a returning SWAG writer. She is a strong cross country runner, and her favorite classes are symphonic choir and English. Speer is a Spanish student and loves learning about Latin American culture.

In her free time, Speer enjoys playing the piano, reading, writing, running with her dog Bucky and hanging out with friends. Before high school, Speer attended the Three Rivers Charter School. She hopes to build a career in the field of English when she is older. If Speer could travel anywhere, she would visit Spain.

Speer is looking forward to a fun year of writing for SWAG.

— Anisha Arcot

(Editor’s Note: West Linn High School has two sophomores with a similar name, Anna Spear and Anna Speer. Both students are in SWAG.)