A shoe box.
And math competitions.
All such things are part of the memories Garrison Mendlik will take with him when he graduates from Archbishop Bergan High School this weekend.
Mendlik is among seniors who’ll participate in commencement exercises at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, signifying the transition from high school to the next steps in their lives.
The 17-year-old recently shared good memories from his school career.
“What I’ve particularly enjoyed about high school here at Bergan is the friendships and the camaraderie,” he said. “With the small class sizes, you really get to know your peers and you create some really great friendships and memories.”
One of those memories included the recent senior retreat during which students sat around a bonfire.
As part of the retreat tradition, students are selected — one at a time — and the others say something they like about that individual or share a memory.
“My class – a lot of us have been together since first grade here at Bergan so there were a lot of tear-jerking moments that night,” he said.
Mendlik’s classmates expressed appreciation for his intelligence. He shared an appreciation for classmates who’ve worked to rekindle friendships that were always there, but which may have faded throughout the years.
He has other good remembrances of golfing with Coach Chris Rainforth and driving around Fremont with friends.
Mendlik was on the boys’ golf team and involved in the Key Club, which does service projects.
One yearly project involves filling a Samaritan’s Purse shoe box with gifts for a boy or girl. The boxes then are sent to children around the world.
“It’s a way to give,” he said. “You know you’re making an impact on somebody’s life and it’s always important to give to those who don’t have it as fortunate as us.”
Mendlik enjoyed his time in math club as well.
“It’s actually really fun to go to the competitions,” he said.
Competitions have taken place in Wayne and at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Vermillion, S.D.
Most of the time, club members take a test over a subject area.
“At the end of the day, there’s awards for people — individual competition — based on how well you did on the test and where you ranked,” he said.
Mendlik will miss his friends at Bergan. And he mentioned someone else.
“Mr. (Joe) Wojtkiewicz — he’s an all-around great person,” Mendlik said. “He’s truly a role model for life. He embodies all the qualities of a good person that you want to see.”
Mendlik plans to go to the University of Arizona in Tucson.
“I’m not quite sure what I want to study yet, but I think either aerospace engineering or physics,” he said. “I want a good job and to start a family. Career-wise, there’s a lot of possibilities.”