The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Humans of Harker: Balancing equations and harmonies

Ian Ogden explores curiosity and community through math and music
%E2%80%9CMusical+theater+gives+me+more+of+a+creative+rush%2C+and+I+feel+excited+to+be+expressing+what+I+want+to+express%2C+and+theres+no+real+direction+I+have+to+go.+I+get+to+choose%2C+and+thats+fun+in+and+of+itself.+Math+on+the+other+hand%2C+I+enjoy+the+opposite.+I+find+joy+in+that+idea+that+theres+one+way+to+do+it%2C+and+boom%2C+you+found+it+and+youve+solved+it.+Theres+a+satisfaction+there%2C%E2%80%9D+Ian+Ogden+%2812%29+said.
Shareen Chahal
“Musical theater gives me more of a creative rush, and I feel excited to be expressing what I want to express, and there’s no real direction I have to go. I get to choose, and that’s fun in and of itself. Math on the other hand, I enjoy the opposite. I find joy in that idea that there’s one way to do it, and boom, you found it and you’ve solved it. There’s a satisfaction there,” Ian Ogden (12) said.

Ian Ogden (12) remembers walking across downtown Las Vegas with a group of fourteen other mathletes after a long day of problem-solving. They talk and laugh together in the night as they walk out of a shopping plaza into the streets. Under the bright Vegas lights, they savor their ice cream and discuss math concepts together. Ian smiles, reveling in the companionship of his mathlete teammates after a math competition.

Since he was young, Ian had an innate fascination with math. He recalls his parents telling him stories about how he taught himself multiplication at the age of 2. Ian started to compete in math tournaments in sixth grade, yet when he found himself encountering more challenging new math concepts as he progressed through competition, he changed his approach towards learning. 

“Math is hard, but I’ve stuck with it,” Ian said. “I’ve learned to accept that some things are out of my grasp. From what I can understand, I keep pushing myself to learn more in those aspects and enjoy that part of it. Any opportunity I get, whenever I think of some new sort of math problem, I’m always looking for answers to them. I’m always curious, ‘How can we prove this?’”

Ian’s curiosity leads him to constantly seek out a fundamental understanding of solutions to math problems. Upper school math teacher Walter Han, who teaches Ian’s AP Statistics class, commented that some of the questions Ian asked were ones that even he couldn’t answer. Han commends Ian’s curiosity about math.

“Once we started diving into math, Ian asked a lot of questions about why,” Han said. “He has this insane thirst for knowledge and to learn and problem solve. It’s very unique because he’s self-driven to learn a lot of these things. He wants to look at new and interesting problems constantly, and I haven’t seen that in a long time.” 

Ian’s eagerness to explore new aspects of his own interests led him to try out musical theater in high school. After starring in a middle school play in eighth grade, Ian started acting at Harker in sophomore year and performed in the last two spring musicals. In this year’s spring musical “The Wedding Singer”, he will star as the lead. Since junior year, Ian has also sung in the upper school show choir Downbeat. He finds the musical theater community his favorite aspect of performing arts.

“It’s the people that make performing so fun,” Ian said. “When you get to share that final product with everyone and show them how happy it makes you, that’s really what makes everything worth it. Being able to bond over that with amazing people that make up Downbeat and are in the cast of the musical. It’s really fun to be around them and work with them.”

Ian further bonded with his fellow actors over the past summer, when the cast of the 2023 spring musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” traveled to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He especially deepened his friendship with fellow actor Jason Shim (11). Jason described how his impression of Ian as “very soft-spoken” changed over time, reminiscing about the inside jokes that they shared in Scotland. 

“The more that I got to know Ian, the more I got to see the wild side of him that enjoys performing,” Jason said. “During Fringe, we called him ‘Papa Ian.’ He would always be guiding us, telling everyone to get in line. That’s when I really started to see his leadership potential. That’s what he brings to the table first and foremost, a hidden leadership quality.”

Ian brings this leadership to Downbeat, where he leads the bass section. He reflected on how musical theater has helped him grow his confidence and become more outgoing over the time he’s spent at Harker.

“I was a new-to-Harker student coming in ninth grade,” Ian said. “I didn’t know too many people, so it was hard to talk to people during auditions. Now, I’m a lot more extroverted and can have more fun. This year, I feel a lot stronger and a lot more confident in this. I can’t really picture myself not being part of a performing group.”

Ian credits his growth in confidence to Downbeat directors Jennifer Sandusky and Laura Lang-Ree. Upper school vocal music teacher Sandusky, who met Ian when he joined Downbeat in his junior year, praised his responsible leadership of the bass section and his commitment to Downbeat.

“He’s this year stepped up as a major leader of the group, sort of setting the tone for what Downbeat and what the students all need to do,” Sandusky said. “He’s grown a lot because last year, he was listening and absorbing. Now, he’s even pointing things out to me that I miss. I’ll often ask him his opinion on decisions I’m making musically.”

Ian enjoys a mix of math and musical theater, which influence his life in different ways and bring him different kinds of joy. While math improved his analytical skills and musical theater made him more confident in himself, Ian finds ways to satisfy his curiosity and grow his love for community through both.

“Musical theater gives me more of a creative rush, and I feel excited to be expressing what I want to express, and there’s no real direction I have to go,” Ian said. “I get to choose, and that’s fun in and of itself. Math on the other hand, I enjoy the opposite. I find joy in that idea that there’s one way to do it, and boom, you found it and you’ve solved it. There’s a satisfaction there.”

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About the Contributors
Mendy Mao, Reporter
Mendy Mao (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Mendy wishes to improve her interviewing skills. In her free time, she likes to read short stories and play the violin.
Shareen Chahal, Winged Post Co-Managing Editor
Shareen Chahal (12) is a co-managing editor for the Winged Post, and this is her third year on staff. This year, Shareen hopes to extend her coverage to more underrepresented groups on campus and to make more friends within this year's journalism staff. In her free time, she likes to sing, paint and bake for her friends and family.

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