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Lukas Werner

“The most important thing about me, I’d say I like to take my time and reason through certain problems…or everything I approach in life,” valedictorian Reuben De Souza said. “A lot of times I’ll remain quiet and just be thinking about what’s happening and not speak before I think.”

Valedictorian Reuben De Souza

June 1, 2022

Valedictorian Reuben De Souza didn’t grow up in Oregon. He moved here the summer after his dad got a job here before seventh grade after spending the majority of his life in Arizona, where he was born. 

He loved spending time and playing games with his neighbors because he lived in a big neighborhood. He also had traditions with them. “On Halloween, we’d go trick or treating around — and there was like 30 houses at least — so we’d go take a whole loop, he said. “We also had a little greenbelt — it’s like a strip of grass — that we’d go play soccer on, and we had a little rec team that played there.”

When he moved, it was a hard transition because he left behind everything he knew. “I had to leave all my friends in Arizona, and then when I came here it was during the summer so I didn’t really have a good way to meet people so it was kind of hard,” De Souza said.  

At the beginning of seventh grade, De Souza started at Happy Valley Middle School, where he graduated two years later. He started making friends through school and track which he really enjoyed. 

School was different in Arizona compared to Oregon for De Souza. “I liked it more in Oregon than I did in Arizona because in Arizona there was more pressure I’d say, it was a lot more strict… where here, school [is] more relaxed and I could just learn how I wanted to,” he said. 

A challenge for him — especially in elementary school — was trying to live up to the pressure of academics. 

When he was applying to high schools, he chose La Salle because “it was just a lot smaller and my parents felt that I would get a better, more holistic education here,” he said.

Going to high school was a smooth transition for De Souza. “It wasn’t that difficult,” he said. “I knew some people from my middle school going and also, I played soccer which went through the whole summer so I met a ton of people from the camp.”

De Souza’s favorite subjects have always been math and science. “I’ve always liked science and that kind of thing, and then I’ve just been naturally good at math,” he said. During his freshman year, he took Honors Algebra II which was his only really difficult class that year. 

As a sophomore, he was able to venture into even more honors classes. “Sophomore year, Honors English II was a real challenge because Mr. Krantz was very hard,” De Souza said. He also took AP Physics which was his elective. “It was hard, but I felt fine with it, especially because my other classes weren’t that difficult.

He particularly enjoyed his classes with math teacher Mr. Larry Swanson. His Calculus AB class — which he took during his junior year — was one of his favorite memories from being at school.

“Even though it was online, we still had a good group dynamic and I think Mr. Swanson kind of set that up … so it was like we were learning math, but it wasn’t focused so much on the math that we forget other people are there,” De Souza said. Mr. Swanson was a great teacher figure to him. “He’s someone that’s always there for you,” he said. 

De Souza also enjoyed his classes with Mr. Kyle Voge, who was his science teacher for three years. After taking Mr. Voge’s AP and honors classes for the majority of his high school career, De Souza formed a great relationship with him.

“You can do learning from him, but it’s also like he’s one of your friends,” he said. 

Despite De Souza always excelling in math and science — taking classes like AP Chemistry, AP Calculus BC — and many others, he has also enjoyed taking honors and AP English classes. His English classes and teachers at La Salle helped him grow a lot in writing.

His sophomore and senior English teacher, Mr. Chris Krantz, has really inspired him. “Though he’s really hard — Mr. Krantz — he has really pushed me to not only get better at English but also just in life,” he said.

When the pandemic hit, De Souza — with all students at La Salle — had to adjust to an online learning environment. “It was kind of tough,” he said. “Not because school was hard, but I just didn’t really have a ton of motivation to do schoolwork and stuff … so I would just end up sitting at home not doing anything.” 

Though online classes were easier academically for De Souza, he said it felt like a pointless year. “I don’t think I got as much out of the time that I could have,” he said. “It was kind of a waste of time.” 

He felt like he missed out on the fun parts of high school away from the classroom. He missed “social activities, through school and not through school, because freshman and sophomore year I wasn’t that social anyway, because I was really focused on school and I thought I was content with just having school friends, I guess,” De Souza said. “But then junior year, when I didn’t have any more school friends, I was like ‘wow, I need to actually go hang out with people outside of school and stuff like that,’” he said. 

Many of De Souza’s friends have been made through playing on La Salle’s soccer team for all four years of high school.

He’s been playing since he was little and always enjoyed the sport, so he decided to continue on at La Salle. He played on JV before moving up to varsity this year and helping win the state championship for boys 5A soccer — which is one of his favorite memories from his time at La Salle.

“It helped build my teamwork and sense of competitiveness and urgency,” he said. “There are a lot of core values that are important for someone in a competitive job that I felt like I got from soccer.”

Trying to balance school, soccer, and work was a challenge for De Souza. Between AP classes, practice, and his job at Chipotle, he had a lot on his plate this year.

“Typically I just will go straight to practice after school and then after that, I’d go home, settle down and do my homework,” De Souza said. Especially with college applications, time management was important. “I had to really plan out when I have to do these things and what I was doing these days, so I can get it all done,” he said.

Next year, De Souza plans to attend Oregon State University where he will study electrical engineering. He chose to go into engineering because it’s a combination of both math and science — two subjects he enjoys. He was also encouraged by his dad who is an engineer. 

In college, De Souza is looking forward to “meeting a lot of people and also just experiencing new social events,” he said. He is also excited to take more specific classes to his own interests.

If De Souza could give advice to any incoming freshman, he would advise that “time moves faster than you think it does, just enjoy your whole high school experience because it’ll be over really soon,” he said.

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About the Writer
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Anna Waldron, Assistant Editor

Senior Anna Waldron has lived in Portland, Oregon her whole life, in the same neighborhood as nine members of her extended family. 

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