Lifelong friends

Senior friendships beyond graduation
Seniors Ryan Rexford and Cassandra Darmodjo enjoy fried Oreos together at the Houston rodeo. The two have been inseparable since they first met at 5 years old.
Seniors Ryan Rexford and Cassandra Darmodjo enjoy fried Oreos together at the Houston rodeo. The two have been inseparable since they first met at 5 years old.
provided by Ryan Rexford
Seniors Justin Lee and Hamza Demirovic hold up the superlatives they won at the 2024 Red Bird Productions banquet. Justin encouraged Hamza to take Tech Theater 1 with him at the end of their freshman year, and they have spent the last two years together in the varsity tech theater class.
Behind the camera, manning the lights: Seniors share their thespian fellowship

Since their seventh grade German class at Pin Oak Middle School, Justin Lee and Hamza Demirovic’s friendship just felt natural.

And when the pandemic destroyed so many relationships, theirs only got stronger, with daily messages on Discord. Justin appreciates Hamza’s “unique and surreal” humor while Hamza sees Justin as a voice of reason and a veritable John Wick: smart, calculated and funny.

At Bellaire, they bonded over their mutual love for storytelling, both feeling more comfortable directing behind the camera. Sophomore year, Justin convinced Hamza to audition for theater, where Hamza fell in love with Red Bird Productions. At the annual RBP holiday party, Hamza still remembers Justin taking six bottles of orange Fanta and spilling the soda all over him. Justin still insists it wasn’t his fault. 

Seeking a way to combine their passion for German and creativity, Justin and Hamza filmed their first German video show, detailing Martin Luther’s life. None of the actors remembered their lines, and their supposedly stoic Martin Luther laughed through every take, but Justin and Hamza loved every second of it. And when their film ultimately won first at the Texas State German Contest in San Marcos, they wanted to do it again.

So they did.

Junior year, they tried their hand at filming a German variety show. Justin and Hamza thought it was a masterpiece. The judges didn’t. But they didn’t let that damper their friendship — no, they still had one more shot.

Senior year, they tried their most ambitious project yet: a dark film about idealistic West Germans smuggling East Berliners over the wall to safety. The script had to be rewritten. The lighting was never right. The two argued over how to edit the film. But in the end, their partnership pulled through, and they left San Marcos with a first place win for the second time.

They don’t always talk much. And when they do, it’s often just to argue for the sake of arguing, but underscoring their friendship is the respect they have for each other.

And while Lee will pursue architecture and Demirovic plans on becoming a physical therapist, their directorial aspirations remain nearby. Lee’s still writing their next one-minute play. Demirovic’s still writing their next horror film. Their partnership might be on hiatus, but it’s not over yet.

Seniors Justin Lee and Hamza Demirovic hold up the superlatives they won at the 2024 Red Bird Productions banquet. Justin encouraged Hamza to take Tech Theater 1 with him at the end of their freshman year, and they have spent the last two years together in the varsity tech theater class. (provided by Justin Lee)
Seniors Ellie Kung and Trish Ho walk together after playing pickleball. The two became inseparable when they reached high school.
Camping and crafts: Scouting seniors share their shared adventures

It was impossible for Trish Ho to not know Ellie Kung when their sixth grade teacher couldn’t tell them apart.

They started sitting together during lunch. Ellie admired Trish’s confidence and how despite her small stature, she stands up for herself in a crowd. Trish found Ellie tolerable when in sixth grade she couldn’t tolerate anyone, which was pretty special.

A major part of their friendship is encouraging — forcing — the other to try new things. Ellie bugged Trish to join Scouts in seventh grade until finally she talked to Trish’s mom about the organization. Her mom signed her up, and soon Trish was crying on the car ride to her first camping experience.

But camping turned out to be what solidified the girls’ friendship. In the absence of technology, they focused on each other. 

When the pandemic rolled around, and everything changed, Ellie was Trish’s constant. And as their friend group splintered coming to high school, Ellie helped Trish acclimate to post-Covid Bellaire.

The club they founded, Cardinal Crafts, offered a way to continue hands-on projects they loved   from Scouts, and at Bellaire, Ellie found the roles reversed and joined robotics at Trish’s insistence.

Even though Trish is going to Texas A&M University for microbiology, and Ellie will be whisked away to Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts for mechanical engineering, they’ll still keep pushing each other to try new things, this time through text instead.

Seniors Ellie Kung and Trish Ho walk together after playing pickleball. The two became inseparable when they reached high school. (provided by Ellie Kung)
Seniors Ryan Rexford and Cassandra Darmodjo enjoy fried Oreos together at the Houston rodeo. The two have been inseparable since they first met at 5 years old.
One giant human: Seniors share their forever bond

Ryan Rexford and Cassandra Darmodjo aren’t two people. They’re one giant human, and they’ve been that way since Pre-K.

Leaning against the ballet barres of the Banbury School of Dance, their 5-year-old selves were instantly inseparable. They arrived to dance practice 30 minutes early just to sit in the dressing room and talk. They continued to talk even as the teacher gave instructions, and afterward their parents knew to wait in the lobby at least 30 minutes longer for their daughters to finish their conversation and play around with filters on Snapchat.

In performances, their dance teacher stopped trying to separate them. It was fruitless. Somehow they would end up choreographed next to each other anyway. If they were dancing solo, it was a spoken rule: Ryan had to go after Cassandra, or Cassandra had to go after Ryan.

Even though they didn’t go to school together until Bellaire, they knew everything about each other’s lives. The gossip, the drama, the day-to-day life. Who else could they go to for advice? Who else could they trust with their every thought without judgment? Who else could they have a special type of love for, even separate from their love for their families? For Ryan, it was and always would be Cassandra, and for Cassandra, it was and always would be Ryan. They can’t even fathom ever fighting in their 13 years of basically platonic marriage; they know one would never intentionally hurt the other.

Yes, Ryan is going halfway across the country to the University of Southern California, and yes it’s a four-hour flight to visit Cassandra at Texas A&M University, but they have it all planned out. They’re looking at flights and the best ticket prices, and Cassandra is flying into California the weekend before Thanksgiving. The weekend after Thanksgiving, Ryan is flying home to Texas.

They can’t imagine a world without each other. Not being friends is not an option.

Seniors Ryan Rexford and Cassandra Darmodjo enjoy fried Oreos together at the Houston rodeo. The two have been inseparable since they first met at 5 years old. (provided by Ryan Rexford)
Seniors Sameer Selvakumar and Brody Droste enjoy a ski trip they took over spring break with their friends. Selvakumar taught Droste how to ski, and by the end of the trip Droste was skiing faster than Selvakumar.
Subway sandwiches, sleepovers, seven years of friendship Band seniors share their found brotherhood

No matter where they go to college, the distance won’t matter.

No matter what they fight about, the next day they’ll still be friends for life.

Because no matter how bad it gets, Sameer Selvakumar and Brody Droste will always have each other.

They met when Sameer moved up from beginner flute to Pin Oak’s advanced band, where Brody had already been playing trumpet for a year.

They noticed they could be transparent and authentic around each other. Especially in seventh grade, when it was all too common for others to put on a front, vulnerability was easy for the two of them.

In eighth grade, Sameer, Brody and two others hosted weekly sleepovers, and even though Covid-19 forced them to go virtual, they still grinded Rocket League every day after online school.

And as the world gradually restarted, Brody and Sameer started meeting at the park, eating their Subway sandwiches six feet apart. Even though these masked meet-ups were incredibly awkward, they still found ways to have fun.

Brody decided to go to Debakey High School, temporarily putting their friendship back online. But after Brody transferred to Bellaire before his junior year, they picked up right where they left off at the park in eighth grade. Sameer introduced Brody to his band friends, and they got along so well it surprised even Sameer, easing the otherwise very difficult mid-high school move.

Sameer can say anything around Brody. They’re basically brothers. Brody’s at Sameer’s house every weekend. Brody even lived with Sameer for two weeks so Brody’s brother could quarantine as he recovered from the flu.

Sameer remembers those two weeks as a fever dream. They got nothing done, but it was still the best two weeks of his life.

And though they didn’t realize it in their seven years of friendship until college applications, their careers are very closely aligned. They both love nature, frequently go camping and make a variety of fresh-picked salads from vegetables grown in Brody’s greenhouse.

They both want to major in environmental engineering. Brody decided on Texas A&M University, and Sameer had the choice between University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California. Sameer landed on UT, though. 

Austin had the added bonus of being far closer to Brody.

Seniors Sameer Selvakumar and Brody Droste enjoy a ski trip they took over spring break with their friends. Selvakumar taught Droste how to ski, and by the end of the trip Droste was skiing faster than Selvakumar. (provided by Sameer Selvakumar)
Leave a Comment
Donate to Three Penny Press
$0
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Bellaire High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Three Penny Press
$0
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Three Penny Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *