CHESANING — Chesaning’s Brendan Greenfelder is a star in virtually every sport he plays, but those who know him well agree that most of his success comes in the classroom.
“He’s very energetic, he’s willing to learn and he likes to learn,” said Melyssa Lenon, a teacher at Chesaning Union High School, where Greenfelder is among her AP students. “He’s willing to take on challenges.”
Greenfelder, a 17-year-old senior, has a 3.73 GPA. He balances the heavy workload that comes with being a four-sport athlete with a difficult class schedule. The senior is currently enrolled in an English course at Delta College through a dual enrollment program, as well as robotics, personal finance, AP calculus and band.
Greenfelder noted his English class, which is online, has taught him a great deal about time management, in addition to the subject matter.
“I thought it was really cool because it showed me that, ‘Hey, you can’t just leave everything to the last minute with these college courses,’” Greenfelder said recently at the high school. “There were a few times when I got myself really deep into trouble, like I had to write an 800-word paper (by the next day). You know how to pace yourself, and not being able to talk to the teacher face-to-face, you have to look it up.”
Greenfelder’s robotics course also has been an enlightening experience, he said.
“We do fun physics projects in there, and we do other things as well,” Greenfelder said, noting he had begun coding. “We’ve done a ton of projects in that class and they’ve all been really fun. We made a boat out of straws and then saw how much weight it would hold. (The teacher) has a tank in the class and we actually tested what it could actually float with (on it).”
Other projects Greenfelder has embarked on include a classroom competition to see who could build the tallest structure using only toothpicks and tape. He said his structure, which he built with a partner, stood nearly 8 feet tall, and resembled a pyramid.
Greenfelder also said he was excited to see how he will do on another class project, in which he built a device to protect an egg when something is dropped on it.
He said students make containers our of toothpicks and glue in an attempt to protect an egg from the weight of a textbook dropped from 7 feet.
“I’m hoping mine does well,” he said.
Along with his successes, Greenfelder has become a leader in the classroom, Lenon said. But in his mind, it’s only a natural transition. Greenfelder said he was the unofficial leader of his sports teams.
“Although I’m not really a captain in anything, I always try to help and be a leader as much as I can,” he said.
Greenfelder said he had to step up this year in band, because a large portion of the group graduated. He plays bass and regular clarinet.
“I played band a little bit later than most kids that are in there. Most of them joined in the fifth grade, and I joined halfway through sixth grade. I was always a little bit behind everyone,” he said. “One thing that was really weird was having to try and take charge during our marching season, since I was one of the few seniors we had this year, and most of our really good marching seniors had to leave because they were taking other classes, so I was one of the better marchers in the band.
“I had to really step up and show (the younger members) how to do better and how they could practice marching and playing at the same time.”
Greenfelder plans to attend Western Michigan University, but he’s undecided on a major. He said athletic training is something he’d recently been intrigued by, thanks in part to a research paper he had to write. The project detailed different aspects of different fields.
“I decided to do mine about injuries in sports and how sports can be beneficial but there’s the downside of injuries. I learned how to wrap ankles from our athletic trainer here, and that was amazing,” he said.
“I like being able to help people if they’re hurt. Even just wrapping ankles, the day after I learned how I was already wrapping a kid’s ankle on the team because he said his ankle hurt.”
Brendan is the son of Lisa and Joe Greenfelder. He has a younger brother, Reese, and a younger sister, Claire.