Remembering Bryant

Brenna Claus, Sports Editor

An extraordinary journalist, cross country runner, student and dear friend has left an unforgettable impact on our lives. Recent West High graduate Bryant Clark passed away on Saturday, September 12 at Oakland Children’s Hospital due to an illness.

Clark graduated with the Class of 2015 this spring and was planning on attending the University of the Pacific in the fall. Throughout his years at West High School he received many prestigious awards for his hard work. Clark was awarded an Academic Block W all four years of his high school career and also received the 2015 Distinguished Students Award from the Stockton Record. Clark had an overall grade point average (GPA) of 4.3. The University of the Pacific awarded him with the Regents’ Scholarship, Dean’s Scholarship and the Pacific Scholarship amounting to $18,000 annually. “He was the smartest guy I knew. He would do anything for his friends and was considerate of others; everybody loved him. Bryant was like a brother to me. He didn’t have a major at the University of the Pacific, but he could have done anything,” said friend, Brianna Olsen.

Bryant’s favorite time of year was Halloween. His favorite movie was a classic thriller, Halloween directed by John Carpenter in 1978. He loved to watch scary movies with his friends. Clark would usually go to Wing Stop after West High football games with a big group of his friends, including Brianna Olsen, Samantha Mielbeck, Tatyana Soto, Aislyn Claus and Xander Van Wonterghem, and would get his favorite dish, Hot Chicken Wings.

Bryant’s athletic involvement included running cross country for two years. He signed up with his best bud, Brianna Olsen. Though not the fastest, Clark never gave up. He would always return to practice with a smile on his face ready to train for the next meet.

When asked about their friendship, Olsen said, “We had known of each other since middle school but didn’t start talking until the very beginning of freshman year, when we had half of our classes together. I never would’ve thought that we would grow so close. He was always there for me and his other friends, any problem at all and he would talk you through it. He would get mad if he found out later that you had problems and you didn’t try to ask for help. He was the funniest person I knew too. We would always laugh so hard it wouldn’t make a sound, maybe just a squeal. We would laugh so hard that our ribs hurt. We shared this sense of humor that not many people have; we would laugh until we cried at things other people wouldn’t even find funny. People would always assume that we were brother and sister, twins even, because we were together all the time and were so similar. Eventually we just went along with it and told them that we were twins and I was born ten minutes earlier. It felt like we were siblings anyway. We even bickered like we were brother and sister. We seriously did everything together: cross country, an internship, science camp, etc. The list goes on and on. We were even each other’s prom dates, even though we acted disgusted with each other. I’m never going to meet anyone as special as him. I can’t believe I have to wait my whole life to see him again. I’ll be old and gray but he’s eternally young and copper-headed. Or as he called it, ‘strawberry blonde’.”

Bryant was also involved in many Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Clark was a part of the journalism team last year, but he wasn’t just your ordinary staff reporter. Many of his classmates would remember him as a gifted writer, somebody who could even make even something as mundane as an article about taxes intriguing. The way he could write a story and captivate his readers was beautiful.

When asked about memories of Bryant, English teacher Ms. Abbey Ludwig replied, “What will I remember about Bryant? To answer that adequately is like trying to give you a beautiful piece of my soul in one short sentence and I can’t give you that! How can I capture how I feel about Bryant in limited space?! It’s like trying to put the wind in a jar! I remember the first time I read his writing, he could craft words and make them feel alive on even the most mundane topic; I remember when, on rare occasion he would raise his hand to share a glimpse of insight or provide a thought, always leaving the rest of us amazed at the pure depth of his musings. I remember he and his best friend Brianna Olsen, they had the kind of friendship very few people are blessed enough to experience. His life perspective, his dry humor – he was unique and original! His beautiful shock of red hair! He had an ability to weave language together in a way that few people are gifted with! I cannot even tip that surface of what I will remember about Bryant. Dr. Seuss said, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,’ and each moment as I try to smile, I know that I was the lucky one for knowing him!”