An Ode the Best Friends a Guy Could Ask For

Staff Writer: Michael Brown

I decided to take a break from sports this month and write about something more on the personal side. I was in my room the other night just watching the Braves game and, all of a sudden, it occurred to me that I have the absolute best friends in the entire world. Like, not just some of the best, but the absolute best. I’m not really sure what made me think about it, but I do think it’s important to show them appreciation, because I do really appreciate them all. They mean the world to me and are part of why I enjoy life so much. I figured if I have a medium of publication like this at my disposal, it would be a great way to show them how much they mean to me. And I was super excited before writing this (and I can tell because I actually started writing this on April 8; normally I wait till the last couple of days before our articles are due to begin writing mine!) because it’s something I feel strongly about. These people mean the world to me and I’m so thankful to have them in my life, so it’s important that I return the favor and explain why these folks are so great.

(Note- just to avoid redundancy, unless otherwise noted, everyone I mention or quote is a current junior at Woodstock)

Zakwan Khan is so great. Boy howdy, I could talk about Zakwan for ages. Zakwan is incredibly smart, and his work ethic is unbelievable. When you combine those two things in a person, he or she is liable to do amazing things in life. And of all the people I know at school, Zakwan is the one I’d say is most destined for incredible success in life. He’s totally gonna go to an Ivy League School and end up making millions. He was at some sort of science fair thing for the state of Georgia recently (I don’t remember the official name) and won best in his category.


Zakwan in his Tennessee overalls – Photo Credit – Katie Torkkola

Now he gets to go to ISEF, which is like this international science fair type of thing, and is held in Phoenix. That’s so cool!! I’m so proud of him, man. I think the best thing about Zakwan, though, is his personality. He is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He’s always so supportive of his friends, and he’s always saying positive things. Zakwan is also super funny too. He’s constantly cracking jokes, and you never see him without a smile on his face. You always hear that smiling and laughter are contagious, and that’s certainly the case with Zakwan. Camilo Rincon said about Zakwan, “He’s one of the few genuinely exceptional people I have ever known. To compartmentalize him in any one of his virtues wouldn’t be fair as he has unwavering morals yet is laid back and wholly tolerant, inherently intelligent and intuitive yet totally driven by his lofty ambitions, hilarious yet serious and compassionate when need be. Zakwan isn’t just “promising”; he truly is great already.” Zakwan’s personality is infectious, and it’s just about impossible to be around him and not be really happy. And those are (some of) the reasons I love Zakwan.

Me and Abi Halls go way back. There aren’t many friends our age that have not only known each other as long as we have, but have also been friends as long as we have. We met when we were both just 4 years old, in Mrs. Charlotte Payne’s Pre-K


Abi striking a pose – Photo Credit – Me

class (I had to use both names because we still both debate whether we called her “Mrs. Charlotte” or “Mrs. Payne”). I still remember that class well. I remember the carpet we sat on every day, I remember the toys, the arts and crafts area, the playground. And I remember seeing Abi every day, having no idea that my best friend in that class would continue to be by my side for the next 13+ years. We’ve been through a lot together. And I think that being friends for that long truly shows how close people are, that they can be close friends and not get mad at each other, not get sick of each other, etc. Abi is a good role model today too. She lives her life so confidently, afraid of nothing. Tess Cope told me, “Abi has some sort of raw intensity, compassion for other people. She cares deeply about her friends, and it means a lot to me.” And those are (some of) the reasons I love Abi.


               On the left is Abi and me in third grade after our Awards Day ceremony (where we both racked up more accolades than anyone else), and on the right is Abi and me at our Beta Club induction ceremony in 5th grade. – Photo Credit – Me

Sometimes I feel bad because I’m not sure I tell Dayne Bergman often enough how much I appreciate him, but I really appreciate that boy. Dayne is probably the smartest person I’ve ever met. I couldn’t begin to count how many times I’ve asked him for help in school, rather it be in


This was Dayne at the Model UN competition this year – Photo Credit – Dayne Bergman

Calc, Lang, Physics, etc. He’s always willing to help me too, no matter how much I annoy him, and that’s something I really appreciate. Dayne is going to have such a successful career. I could very much see him owning a major business or something like that. I could also see him becoming the Emperor of another planet on which he fostered new life. It’s really whatever he wants, because he’s capable of anything. Dayne’s also a really funny guy too. Bryce Hunter told me that he liked Dayne’s “low-key humor.” I’d say that is a good way to describe Dayne’s humor. It’s low-key, but that’s what makes it so good. Like when this man made a March Madness bracket solely determined by the GDP of the cities where each of the colleges were located. I found that to be so funny. And those are (some of) the reasons I love Dayne.

I first met Tess Cope in Mrs. Huey’s 7th grade life science class, and Tess, Abi, and myself were quite the power trio in that class, but at first I really only knew her through Abi because they were super close, but I’m so glad that, over time, Tess and myself have also become super close friends. It’s been a blessing. She’s the best. Tess


Tess enjoying some Asian food – Photo Credit – Abi Halls

has so many great qualities about her. She’s an all-star when it comes to lacrosse, she’s super smart when it comes to the classroom, and she’s an incredible artist. It’s crazy because she does so many different things and she’s so good at all of them. I like how Tess and myself can kind of feed off each other. There will be times where something is said, and we both make eye contact because we’re thinking the exact same thing, or how in Physics and Calculus neither of us seem to understand what we’re doing but when we work together, we always seem to figure it out. I really don’t know what I’d do without Tess. Just the other day, she texted me about a Physics worksheet that was due that night at midnight, and I had finished it but completely forgotten to turn it in. If she hadn’t texted me to tell me about it, I wouldn’t have turned it in on time. It’s little things like that that mean a lot. Tess is also just so great to all of her friends. She’s incredibly supportive, but also always 100% honest. Abi Halls told me, “She’s always very honest and loyal to those she loves.” And those are (some of) the reasons I love Tess.

Honestly, Bryce Hunter was probably the best part about Middle School, and now we’re even closer friends than we were back then, so that’s awesome. We actually sort of met in 5th grade at an

Bryce I

Not quite sure how to describe this one, but it’s Bryce – Photo Credit – Me

Academic Bowl tournament; he captained the Woodstock Elementary team and I captained the Carmel Elementary team. It’s crazy how life works. Who would’ve thought that this guy from another school that I’d never seen in my life would end up being one of my best friends just a few years later? Bryce is just so fun to be around. He’s always smiling, always happy about something. Bryce is so funny, and his laughter is one of his trademarks; it’s unbelievably contagious. You hear this man laugh and it’s impossible not to laugh along with him. Nathaniel Mathers told me that “Bryce is a funny dude, and he’s also receptive to new ideas which is cool.” Bryce is also a really hecking good drummer. It’s so fun to listen to him play. Multiple times I’ve gone over to his house and I walk in and the first thing I hear is drums being played loudly downstairs. And it sounds so cool! I really do think that if he keeps with it, sticks to it, Bryce can turn this music thing into a career. And those are (some of) the reasons I love Bryce.

camilo and zakwan

Camilo (right) and Zakwan (left) POSIN’ – Photo Credit – Zakwan Khan

I actually met Camilo Rincon’s older brother Andres before I met Camilo. He was in 8th grade when I was in 6th grade and we were on the Woodstock MS Academic Bowl team together (Bryce was there too!). We ended up placing 6th in the state that year which was dope. But Camilo came along from Cherokee Charter the following year (this would’ve been 7th grade), and I originally thought his name ended with an “a” rather than an “o,” which would’ve made him a female in terms of the Spanish language.

Camilo II

“Can I just have one singular nugget?” – Photo Credit – Me

I think I finally admitted this to him last year. One of my first memories of Camilo was Collin Schaferling’s birthday party at Stevi Bs, where he cowered in fear as Collin and I competed to see who could eat the most slices of pizza (I won with 21.5). What a time to be alive. We later joined forces on Academic Bowl (sort of like The Avengers) and that’s where the friendship began. Camilo, like a lot of people on this list, is overwhelmingly intelligent. Zakwan Khan also mentioned that, “Camilo is someone who’s not afraid to challenge your beliefs; someone who will make you view things from other perspectives.” The man is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to anything related to social studies, history, etc. Anything. Everyone that knows Camilo knows that though. One thing that I’ve found in becoming really good friends with Camilo is that Camilo is an incredible human being, a genuinely good person. He cares deeply about other people. It shows in the little things. Like when I accidentally score a goal for the wrong team when we’re playing Rocket League. He just tells me that, “Hey, it still looked cool man. You’ll get ‘em next time.” He’s always so complimentary of others, and so humble when it comes to his own success. He tends to downplay whenever he does well on a certain test, or something like that. But he’s always the first to lift others up, and tell them that they did well. And that kind of stuff feels really good. Camilo is also someone who has a quick wit. It’s more than just being funny. He has a way of responding instantly to things that are said in a way that makes it hilarious. I guess, in short, I can say that he’s really good at roasting people. I can promise you I’d never want to go against the man in a rap battle. And those are (some of) the reasons I love Camilo.

Me and Nathaniel

This was me doing my best impression of Ronald Acuña Jr. and Nathaniel was quite confused – Photo Credit – Camilo Rincon

I’ve actually known Nathaniel Mathers the least amount of time among the people I’ve talked about here. We didn’t really become friends until the second half of last school year. What’s crazy is, despite that, Nathaniel is pretty much my best friend now. Nathaniel is, simply put, a really good person. And I know that sounds bland, vanilla, etc. But it’s true. He’s the epitome of a “great guy.” He cares about his friends, more so than he lets on.


Nathaniel spying on me from a distance – Photo Credit – Bryce Hunter

For example, he’s come to visit me while I work at the school store multiple times. That doesn’t seem like much, but it means the world that someone would be willing to go out of their way like that to support a friend. Nathaniel is also very hard-working, and he’s so fun to play video games with too. He’s so funny to talk to in those times, and he knows how to let me know when I’m doing something wrong. Dayne Bergman told me that, “Nathaniel is very funny, and he always seems to be able to come up with some witty comment to get what he wants.” And that’s true. It’s almost like a trademark of Nathaniel’s. He made a lot of those types of witty comments when he was in the process of teaching me to solve a rubix cube. But they worked! I can now solve a rubix cube, and I owe it all to Nathaniel. In the society we live in today, and especially in the school we attend, morals seem to be something that is lost, something that is put aside, and something that doesn’t necessarily matter anymore. That’s not the case with Nathaniel. Nathaniel is one of the most morally sound people I know. And I don’t want to sound like a lame parent or anything, but it’s really important to me that my friends are grounded in strong morals, and Nathaniel fits that mold. And it’s so cool to be able to not only call Nathaniel one of my best friends, but to also be able to call him my brother in Christ. It’s important, as a Christian, to have other friends who believe similarly to you. They are there to lift you up, encourage you, hold you accountable, help you when you need advice, etc. I appreciate Nathaniel for always being there for me in this aspect. I know I can come to him in a time of need, I know I can talk to him about things, I know I can trust him. And that means everything to me; I’m so thankful for it. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” And those are (some of) the reasons I love Nathaniel.

I hope this wasn’t too personal, sentimental or corny. I really just felt that this would be a creative and effective way to show appreciation to the people I love and to showcase to the world how amazing they are. It’s kind of hard to do that and not sound kind of emotional I guess. I’m hoping this can also be a great tool in helping spread positivity.

So, here’s to more memories made. It’s scary to think about, but in a little over a year from now, we’ll have all graduated and moved on to bigger and better things. That’s so crazy. I’m so glad I have a group of people this special to spend that next little-over-a-year with, though. It’s gonna be amazing. I can’t wait to see what memories we make next.




  1. Michael, this article is fantastic. I appreciate that you took the time to recognize each of your friends; you gave each of them unique attention, which makes it that much better. Your friends are a spectacular group. I consider myself lucky to have gotten to know and teach this group, you included (Abi is the only one I don’t teach!).

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