From playground buddies to graduates: a K through 12 friendship

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From playground buddies to graduates: a K through 12 friendship

Sydney Hilbush

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The friendships we make in our beginning elementary school years often fade away once the playground fun is over. As we approach graduation day, our best friends from 12 years ago are often not apart of the friend groups we’ve identified with in high school. However, for seniors Eli Ganong and Ben Sweet, who have remained each other’s best friend since kindergarten, their education has only strengthened their childhood bond, one that they believe will continue long after their high school days are over.

It all began in Ms. Wanger’s Brown Bear kindergarten class at Bacich Elementary School, where the two boys naturally gravitated towards each other while competing for the title of “class troublemaker.” Ganong and Sweet still reminisce over their reckless playground adventures, some of which remain highlights of their friendship to this day.

“The earliest best memories are probably from the playground that we all used to play on. We’d run into each other with backpacks full of bricks,” Ganong said.

After countless trips to the pumpkin patch, endless rounds of silly band wars and innumerable lava tag games, the boys strengthened their friendship as they progressed through elementary school and remained close despite not being in the same classes. As they graduated from Bacich and entered into their middle school years at Kent, Ganong and Sweet remained friendly but distanced themselves as they began experimenting with different friend groups and activities. According to Sweet, Ganong was just as rebellious in middle school as he was on the kindergarten playground.

“To be completely honest, I just think Eli was a pretty big trouble maker [in middle school] and he got a lot of detentions and ran with the bad crowd. I was more friends with Kyle [Felder] and other people. We played four square and stuff while Eli was ding dong ditching and setting off fireworks on McCallister,” Sweet said.

Ganong also partially attributes this natural distance to the fact that the duo only had a few classes together during their time at Kent. This pattern has repeated itself during high school, even though they consider each other best friends now.

“I’ve never had a class with Ben in high school. The last class we had together was middle school, like seventh period Ms. Thelen’s class. Remember when we spat water on the Chromebook?” Ganong asked Sweet, who responded with a laugh.

Although the boys were less friendly in middle school, when they began high school together at Redwood they naturally drifted back toward each other and rekindled their close-knit friendship.

“Freshman year, the first couple of weeks you just kind of stick with the people you know because it’s comfortable and you’re scared to talk to people, so we just kinda gravitated towards one another,” Sweet said.

After becoming close friends again at the start of high school, their friendship has remained inseparable. Sweet attributes the strength of their friendship to the fact that they have so much in common and are able to turn their interests into memorable experiences.

“We are just super similar and a lot of the times we will be talking in our friend group chat and me and Eli will be the only people that want to go on a hike or something. A couple of months ago we hiked to Stinson from Eli’s house in Kentfield and that took like four or five hours,” Sweet said.

 

Similarly to five-hour hikes to the beach, some of their favorite activities are the spontaneous ones: random road trips to Tahoe, city expeditions, long bike rides and bowling nights. According to Ganong, because the boys are so similar and easy-going about plans, they can make a memory out of any situation as long as they are together.

“Sure, you can find someone that has a bunch of the same interests as you, but they may not necessarily be your close friend, so it’s nice that when we go bike riding or hiking we can do those things together. There’s never a dull moment,” Ganong said.

Because they are so comfortable around each other, they know they can argue or compete with one another without seriously damaging their friendship.

“Especially because we both are pretty similar height wise, it gets pretty competitive. Anything we do physically turns into a competition, but nothing that ever damaged our friendship,” Sweet said.

The boys treat each other like siblings and will often bicker about little things until someone lets it go, which, according to Ganong, rarely happens.

“Honestly most of the time it’s just petty arguments because each of us will think we are right about something,” Ganong said, just as Sweet chimed in, “And we are both super stubborn so even if one of us is wrong it’s a rare occasion that someone actually admits that they are wrong.”

Although Ganong and Sweet will be attending different colleges next year, they believe that the strength and longevity of their friendship will allow them to remain close despite being in separate states.

“With some friends I’m sure it’s going to be super hard to go off to college but me and Ben are pretty independent people and we are both excited to go to college, so I don’t think it’s going to be super hard for us to leave because we know we will still be able to see each other and pick up right where we left off,” Ganong said.

After hearing the way these two best friends laughed and smiled when thinking back to their childhoods together, it is clear that their friendship isn’t going anywhere on graduation day, and can be summed up in a few words: “K through ?”