BEMIDJI -- It is pretty safe to say that anyone who has been to a Bemidji High School event in the past four years, has probably heard Ben Fagerstrom on the trombone.
The musician has filled his high school schedule with over an hour and a half of music instruction per school day -- he’s involved in concert band, show choir band, jazz band and a brass quintet.
Fagerstrom is graduating as a member of the Bemidji High School Class of 2020, and reflecting back on his high school career, he is proud of himself.
Academically, he is proud of his 4.1 GPA, which he said, “took a lot of hard work.” But he is also proud of himself for figuring out where he belongs and finding his niche, he said.
“I was really involved in music in high school, I’ve never really been much of an athlete, so getting to my freshman year and being in show choir band was my first time being part of a team,” he explained. “I spent pretty much all of my time in band or band extracurriculars.
“My highlight of high school has definitely been show choir by far,” he added. “There’s no feeling like performing in that setting because emotions run so high.”
Fagerstrom described himself as always being a ‘hands-on’ kind of guy -- he spent his childhood playing with LEGOs, working with wood and watching Mythbusters.
“I like to make things, I’ve always enjoyed being hands-on more than that ‘fancy book learning,’” he said, laughing.
Due to this, he plans to attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. in the fall to study mechanical engineering.
“Seeing that sort of mindset of being able to solve a problem by making something, it seemed like a very logical path to follow,” he said.
His dream job is to work for NASA someday.
Fagerstrom is bummed he can’t roll across the commencement stage in style -- in his signature Heelys -- but it is what it is, he said.
“On a day-to-day level it’s either a major bummer, or I’m just in awe of how significant this event is,” he explained. “It’s like we’re living through history, in 50 years, some kid will be reading in a textbook about this pandemic and how we responded to it.”
In lieu of a traditional commencement ceremony, Fagerstrom and his classmates will be celebrated with a vehicle procession and curbside diploma pick-up on Saturday, May 23. At 8:45 a.m., students will line up in their cars in the Sanford Center parking lot. At 9 a.m., a law enforcement escort will guide a procession of graduates through town, eventually ending up at Bemidji High School. Students will then drive up one at a time -- never leaving their vehicles -- to receive their diplomas from school board members.