The Monday of Thanksgiving week proved to be the perfect time for the recipients of the 2021 Bexley High School Distinguished Alumni Awards to share their words of wisdom with current juniors and seniors. Students were excited to hear from all five honorees, three in person and two via video, who offered memories of life at Bexley High School and some advice for the future.
Sarah Saxbe ’93, Vice Chair for Alumni Relations for the Bexley Education Foundation introduced the honorees and presented them with their awards. Each recipient shared a unique message about life at Bexley, but a central theme that emerged from all of the remarks was the importance of kindness and following your passion.
Dr. Jon Kaplan ’65 told students ”to treasure your years at Bexley, do your homework, don’t forget your teachers and (keep in touch with friends) as some of your friends from Bexley will be friends forever.”
Brett Kaufman ’93 talked about the faculty and staff who helped him navigate some tough years and who helped lead him to learn about entrepreneurship, design and finding community. He emphasized the need for more awareness and action around student mental health issues.
Inna Simakovsky ’89 shared her struggles about being an immigrant and trying to fit in. She asked students to be kinder and nicer, especially to those who don’t fit in, as those students have much to share and teach. She encouraged students to “find yourself here (in Bexley) and then go out and find yourself in the world” and find your passion.”
Jay Schottenstein ’72 shared his pride in the high standard of education he experienced in Bexley. He encouraged students to, “have hope and faith that whatever obstacles you face in life you can overcome them” and that with all of the social media in our world today, 24/7 that “being kind is an important attribute (to have).”
Natalia Fedner ’01, who was the first alumnus to receive the Emerging Leader Award, immigrated from Ukraine when she was very young. She jumped into school life with great enthusiasm. That enthusiasm, along with making many mistakes and learning from them, has played a large role in her success. She reminded students that “kindness is a currency because when you show people kindness, it will come back to you.”
The shared experience of attending Bexley High School continues to bring the past and future together. The Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented again in 2023.