Ryan Bandalene came to Berkley High School as a freshman knowing just two other students at the school, and admittedly with no confidence that he could succeed there.
The 18-year-old senior leaves the school in June as one of the most remarkable students in the Class of 2018, and not just because of his 4.1 grade-point average and all-A’s work in the classroom.
“I hope I can be a role model for other kids facing the same challenges I did when I started at Berkley,” he said. “You can do what I did.”
What did he do?
After being a shaky, uncertain freshman, Bandalene served as Berkley Student Leadership president as a senior, earning the job in a school-wide vote during his junior year.
He had been in Student Leadership as a member for less than a year at the time of the vote.
Student Leadership (Berkley’s name for Student Council) is an active organization.
Besides the usual planning of school events like homecoming and prom, the group reaches out into the community for programs like a holiday family adoption and food drive.
In the adoption program, presents are gathered for struggling families who live in the Berkley School District. Eleven families benefited from the program this past holiday season.
“I enjoyed doing the community stuff with Student Leadership more than the school stuff,” Bandalene said.
Bandalene was on the Berkley boys tennis team for three years, playing doubles with the same partner, Calvin Somers. The two played No. 2 doubles as sophomores and juniors and No. 1 doubles as seniors.
They had some big wins over the years, including a victory over a Dearborn Divine Child team in a tournament championship match as sophomores and wins over Grosse Pointe North and Rochester teams last fall.
Bandalene was the Berkley team captain last fall and the recipient of the Bear Award that goes to the team’s outstanding senior. This spring, he was a volunteer assistant coach with the Berkley girls tennis team.
An Oakland Activities Association Scholar-Athlete for three years, Bandalene was named an all-league tennis player by coaches as a senior even though he missed the early part of the season following an emergency appendectomy.
There’s more on his Berkley resume.
Bandalene participated in the school musical twice, and he was in several clubs including Model United Nations and UNICEF.
So, what transformed Bandalene from follower to leader at Berkley?
He points to attending the MYLead Conference during his sophomore year. It was at that student leadership conference at Michigan State University where a speaker said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Bandalene said he took the comment to heart, doing as much as he thought he couldn’t do.
Another “life-changing” moment in Bandalene’s educational career was attending Upland Hills School in Oxford for a year and a half before going to Berkley.
Besides getting him on track academically and socially, Bandalene said, Upland Hills is the place where he met two friends who later went to Berkley and told him about it, convincing him that it was the smaller, community-type high school he wanted to attend.
Bandalene was at Berkley as a Schools of Choice student. He lives with his family in Sylvan Lake.
The next stop for Bandalene is Michigan State, where he plans to study business.
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