A new special summer series, “Where Are They Now?” is meant to be a reflection on recent Oakdale High School alumni, and focus on what paths they’ve taken out of high school, their decision making process, and how Oakdale helped prepare them. The first installment takes a look at life post-high school for Anne Homer, Sophie Jones and Bryce Kirk.
As the fifth of six children, it seemed like Anne Homer, Leo Volz scholarship recipient of 2017, would have known how diverse one’s high school career could be. However, she eventually realized that the same path her siblings had taken wasn’t completely for her.
In the late fall of Homer’s senior year, she decided to try out for Oakdale High School’s production of Clue.
“My friends were the driving force for me trying out,” she explained.
After getting in and playing one of the leading roles in her first Oakdale High School production, Homer realized how much she liked theater.
While in high school, Homer was involved in many AP classes, played golf, volunteered, and was on the Academic Decathlon team. She then expanded her horizons and was part of the marching band senior year while also exploring theater.
Now, Homer attends UC Davis as an English major, with plans to double-major in English and Theater.
“I’m taking about 20 units right now, which keeps me busy,” Homer relayed, noting that the usual amount of units to take is around 17. “I was taking a lot of units that were writing and reading heavy. My advisor recommended that I take something a little easier … so I signed up for an acting class, specifically for non-theater majors.”
The class, Homer noted, led to a lot of introspection, and ended up being something she could genuinely look forward to. Her involvement also led her to audition for the UC Davis Ground and Field Theater Festival and landing a spot in the program.
Homer confirmed that at the beginning of high school, she never would have pictured herself where she is now at UC Davis on a more theater-oriented track: “I wouldn’t have even pictured myself here in theater in the beginning of college.
“I came to this conclusion that I really connected with my teacher for the drama class. And I could see myself teaching drama or English,” she divulged of her possible plans for the future.
Homer has not only changed in her emphasis in university, but has gotten a chance to grow into herself and what she’s passionate about while at UC Davis, whether it be through her involvement in Davis’ Peace Club or attending local festivals, promoting activism, wellness, and environmental sustainability.
So, while Oakdale High School provided Homer the chance to take a different path by becoming involved in theater, it took her own conviction to explore those other options. Homer’s story just goes to show that the first track you choose doesn’t have to be the one you stay on, and the opportunities at home can be fruitful as long as you let them be.
“Band is literally all I do,” Oakdale High School alumna, Sophie Jones, joked.
This Class of 2017 graduate is attending Washington State University as a Digital Technology and Culture major. Though she started out on a neuroscience track, Jones switched her major to a more creative field, noting that she’s more excited to go to class and explore her new major now that she’s discovered her niche.
One could recognize the name Sophie Jones from her affiliation with various bands as a baritone saxophone player. She was involved in Oakdale High’s steel band, jazz band, marching band, and drumline. Jones attended Valley’s Got Talent back in 2014 with the steel band— “Steelin the Beat.” That year, they won the contest and came back again in 2015 to play for the finale.
“I focused more on band,” Jones admitted of her high school days, though this focus didn’t stop her from getting involved in other extracurricular activities and clubs. Most notable for her was her connection with the French Club, which led to her and two other students taking the French Club’s first field trip to Canada last summer.
“I’m so excited to go back to Canada,” she gushed, “I don’t know when I’m going to go back, but I’m excited.”
While Jones does have her sights set on returning north, her summer plans include being an au pair for a family in Spain for six weeks in Moncofa.
Though her summer looks intriguing, Jones couldn’t hide her readiness to return to her friends in Washington, a school where she has “no regrets” attending.
The decision to attend Washington State was comprised of two factors for Jones: 1) to find a school with a neuroscience major and 2) to make sure it included a “real marching band that did field shows and everything.” This led her to shift her sights to the Pac-12 universities and then to those schools including Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) programs to maintain cost-efficiency.
“McGinnis’ energy towards the band and his influence on me was one hundred percent the reason why I wanted to do a real marching band in college,” Jones said of OHS teacher Ross McGinnis.
“Everything about it just felt like it fit perfectly,” she explained of her university, “I didn’t think that I’d like it as much but hearing about it and looking at it … definitely a little bit of a leap of faith.”
Now, she describes her attending WSU and getting involved with their marching band as “the greatest thing I’ve ever done.” She plays the alto saxophone in the band for football and volleyball.
“It’s definitely a family,” she said of the band. “It was so much fun to have something to do with people I’d see every day … it’s just a really safe space and it’s so easy to make friends.”
Jones plans to remain in the band for the upcoming year, and stressed that her musical involvement while in Oakdale was a major factor in choosing her university. So while band may be literally all Jones does, she assured she wouldn’t have it any other way.
One of the most notable athletes from Oakdale’s Class of 2017 has just finished his first year at the University of the Pacific. The school is located about 33 miles from Oakdale, but Bryce Kirk has had to travel a lot farther than that as a member of the university’s baseball team.
This traveling aspect is nothing new, seeing as Kirk was involved in travel ball during his high school years, most notably playing for the Tri-County Tritons. He remarked that he “played for so many teams” which lent to him playing a lot of games far from home.
During this time, Kirk was also involved with Oakdale High School’s baseball team as their catcher, and was a part of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). These notable aspects of Kirk’s high school life reflect where he is now, still playing baseball at UOP with a Business Administration major (with a concentration in management and human resources).
His intentions for life after high school seemed clear: “I wanted to get a degree and play baseball.”
And, he said, UOP’s offer was “too good to pass up.”
Kirk said that a mixture of his experiences with Oakdale High School and travel ball prepared him for life as a college athlete. The former made him put in hard work to rise to the occasion: “I had to improve a lot to be here,” he said of his place at UOP.
Travel ball also made him get used to focusing on baseball as well as being away from home.
At University of the Pacific, baseball season has just ended. Though classes ended about a month ago, baseball players stayed to keep playing, just recently winning a series at BYU on May 19.
“I had some really good experiences,” Kirk expressed.
He reflected mostly on the traveling aspect of his first year at college, and concluded that he had no regrets in his transition from OHS to UOP.
Next week, the series will focus on the Class of 2016, highlighting Caitlin Golding, Adam Olsen, and Austin Romito.