Once a person graduates from their high school, chances are they don’t want to step back in. This wasn’t the case for former Riverside graduate Connor Bolen.
Bolen, originally from Harrisonburg, Virginia, moved to Durham when he was three years old. He attended and graduated from Riverside in 2013. During his high school career he played four years of varsity lacrosse and sang in the advanced chorus group called “Rapids.”
Although he successfully avoided taking Jeff Lang’s AP English IV class, Bolen had several memorable classes with teachers that still remain at RHS like Adam Davidson, Mary Foster and Jill Boliek.
Bolen was part of Davidson’s Introduction to Engineering (IED) class as a freshman, and part of Davidson’s senior class Aerospace. He now works alongside him in the engineering department.
“The one thing I’d say to Connor (Bolen) would be to plan wisley, plan for the unknown, and plan for whatever your journey may be,” Davidson said.
Bolen specifically appreciated the community while studying at Riverside.
“I feel like all my teachers did their best to come out and support either sports games or choir concerts,” he said, “I remember deliberately seeing Mr. Markham and Mrs. Refvem at every choir concert.”
After Riverside, Bolen attended North Carolina State University. He originally majored in engineering, believing he was going to be an aerospace engineer.
He said during high school he didn’t have to study and he’d be fine during tests. Unfortunately, he quickly realized that the courses he were to take were too difficult at NC State.
“I was looking around and said okay I can’t do engineering. What do I want to do?”
He ended up switching his major to technology engineering and design education and immediately fell in love.
While at NCSU, he visited Riverside to see Mr. Velegol and Mr. Davidson, planning to tell them about his major. Eventually the conversation shifted to education.
“[In] two years, when you graduate, you’re coming back here,” Velegol said, “Keep us in mind.”
Upon graduating from college in 2017, Bolen received job offers in Virginia and Texas, but he decided to apply for a PLTW position back at Riverside.
“There’s something about and the program [at Riverside] and giving back to the school I grew up in and helping change it that I wanted to help change. It sure as hell isn’t for the pay,” said Bolen.
Bolen teaches Introduction to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering and is going to be an assistant lacrosse coach during this upcoming season.