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Adversity Builds Character

Freshman year, James Ogunrin realized basketball--a sport he loved--wasn't his strength, so Coach Steve Leisz asked him to pivot and try out for wrestling. It was a good thing Ogunrin did, too, as he ended up ranking in National Prep Wrestling and breaking school records.

"What I appreciate most about wrestling," Ogunrin says, "is how it builds character. You're out there by yourself one-on-one with an opponent, and it all comes down to who wants it more for that six minutes."

The week of SPC this year, Ogunrin came down with the flu. He couldn't practice the whole week before the actual competition. He was physically drained after his first match and struggled to keep from coughing or throwing up. Since he was the number-one seed in the tournament, he had a bye first round—a reward that allowed him to skip the first round and progress forward. He won the next match, which automatically placed Ogunrin in the finals.

"The finals round was hard," he recalls, "because I was already at a disadvantage. I felt weak physically. It took everything I had in me to finish off my wrestling career the way I did—literally—and I will never forget that moment of triumphing over adversity."

Though it hasn't been easy being an SPC-winning athlete and a strong student, wrestling helped James stay focused in the classroom and his grades actually improved on and off the mat.

He says his teachers were always willing to assist when he was juggling sports and academics. "As a student, I have made many strides and seen myself grow over the years, which has given me the opportunity to attend a prestigious institution like Trinity University next year." He's grateful and humbled by what he's experienced as a Knight. If he were to give advice to future Knights, it would be this: "Stay strong and never give up. You're going to face obstacles and tribulations, but once you get past them, you'll be able to look in the mirror and be proud of who you are."

Though Ogunrin excelled on the football field, he had won only one championship when he was younger, always coming up short in multiple championship games. That changed this year when the middle linebacker and his team capped off a commanding victory against Kinkaid, something that hadn't been accomplished since 2014. Ogunrin was named defensive player of the year by the Touchdown Club and signed to play with Trinity University in college. "Since I was a little kid, I always dreamed of playing college football. I feel just blessed to have this opportunity."

A role model for Ogunrin is Ray Lewis, retired NFL Hall of Famer. Ogunrin has looked up to ever since he changed positions to linebacker. "I wanted to be just like him, so I always tried to imitate how Ray Lewis did things, from wearing the same number 52 or making it a ritual to using eye black before every game," he says. Before every game or match, Ogunrin watched Ray Lewis motivational videos. "Even though I've never met him, he has taught me that pain is temporary—it won't last forever. To succeed in life, you need to show consistent effort."

--Emma Tsai

Students Examine the Art of Amoako Boafu

Photo by O'Neal, Harriosn '23

Last month, students in the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) gathered after school at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, to tour and discuss Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks, a display of paintings created by the 38-year-old Ghanaian artist, Amoako Boafo. As the exhibition’s title suggests, the paintings are portraits of black people, including the artist himself, his friends and family, and even celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Students, accompanied by some of their parents, explored the show with museum docent Janice Warren, who asked questions to prompt reflection and discussion. When Warren explained that the paintings in the exhibition were created between 2016 and 2022, the group recognized how the artist’s style had evolved over that period of time. In contrast to his older work, Boafu’s newer paintings have simpler compositions and bolder, brighter colors, which puts more focus on the figures.  “I liked seeing Amoako Boafo’s progression throughout his career,” shared Callahan Baker ’24.  “I learned how the colors and background can influence the theme of the art.”

Another aspect of Boafu’s work that intrigued the group is how he paints the figures’ skin with his fingers. As a result, the subjects’ bodies are a web of moving lines. “The skin was made from all kinds of brown textures and a bit of blue,” observed O’Neal Harrison ’23. “I learned that even one of the most childish forms of painting can be used to create stunning works of art.”

Boafu’s work not only challenges traditional painting techniques but also ideas about race, identity, and representation. NAHS faculty sponsor Lauren Cunningham was inspired to organize the event after she saw the show this summer. “I was really moved by Boafu’s art, and I wanted students to have an opportunity to take a closer look and explore the deeper meaning.” Mia Tuckwood ’23 attended the tour and commented afterwards, “His art made me think, which is what art is supposed to do. [It was a] very cool experience.”

(left to right) Mia Tuckwood ‘23, James Carter ‘23, Caroline Lile ‘24, Callahan Baker ‘24, McKenna Foteh ‘24, Lucy Katz ‘24, William Citizen ‘23, Townsen Thomas ‘24, O’Neal Harrison ’23