For his last semester at Ithaca College, senior Jon Kagan is enrolled in “Pixels Class.” Well, that’s what he said to persuade the students working in the library to let him print pieces of a blown-up photo of himself and his six roommates half-naked on 100 sheets of paper.
He now has the giant photo hanging on his wall — and another check mark on his “bucket list” of 30 things to do before graduation.
For the past nine weeks, Kagan and his six senior roommates — Rob Bowman, Brandon Burkhart, Eric Fernandez, Andy Jacob, Marcus Poon and Michael Sokol — have been scrambling to complete a growing list of more than 30 antics they’ve always wanted to do as college students. Inviting a professor to dinner, drunk swimming in the Hill Center Pool, setting up a lemonade stand and high-fiving President Tom Rochon — these goals each have a place on the agenda.
Kagan said some of the completed items on the list have personal significance, like visiting the Turning Stone Casino in Syracuse — a first for most of the group. He said other goals, yet to be accomplished, were added on impulse.
“We’re adding more all the time, but some of the items are not kosher for this article,” he said.
The seniors keep all of their experiences — kosher or not — well documented on both video and poster board. A giant list hangs on the wall of their kitchen detailing everything they’ve promised to do before graduation. Kagan said seeing the tasks on the wall every day makes the group more committed to the project.
“Whenever we go past the kitchen and we realize we haven’t checked something off, it’s a motivator,” he said. “Writing it down makes it more serious. It reminds us that we don’t want to let ourselves down.”
Kagan said he got the idea for the checklist after watching episodes of MTV’s “The Buried Life.” The show documents the lives of four college students who travel across the country to check things off their “bucket list” — 100 things they want to do before they die. He said he and Bowman decided to start their own bucket list, and the rest of the house quickly joined in.
Bowman said he and Kagan came up with a list of 10 things to do before graduation. He said the list quickly jumped to more than 20 items by the end of the first day.
“We posted it on our wall and left the marker there for everyone to add items to the list,” he said.
Sokol said the project is a great way to make lasting college memories in a short amount of time.
“We’re not sure if and when we’ll all be together again,” he said. “I don’t want to regret not taking advantage of my time here in a month or a year.”
While the challenge has certainly created a lot of last-minute memories, it hasn’t failed to deliver some embarrassing final moments as well. Kagan said one of the items on the list was “compliment a random girl,” and while he waited weeks for the right moment, it didn’t exactly work out as planned.
“Since the beginning of the semester I’d wanted to tell this girl she had beautiful eyes,” he said. “I finally stopped her in the hallway while she was on the phone and told her, and she gave me this disgusted look. She looked frightened.”
Even though the task crashed and burned and only involved one of the seniors, the group checked it off the list. Bowman said they understand that individual schedules would make it nearly impossible to have all seven people involved in every adventure.
“We plan a couple days in advance and set up some time, but we know not all of us can be there at the same time,” he said.
Following suit with “The Buried Life,” the group also wants to help other seniors accomplish their pre-graduation goals. Every time the group accomplishes one of its goals from the list, they help another senior check something off of his or her own list. Kagan said they gather other seniors’ goals via e-mail and add them to a second list.
Sokol said he wishes the group had begun the project sooner.
“We’re only starting this project in the last quarter of our senior year,” he said. “If we had done this since freshman year, it would’ve been exhausting, but we would’ve had a great time doing it.”
Sokol said they have missed out on a few of their plans, such as attending a Cornell University basketball game. Though not every item on the list can be completed, Bowman said the planning is just as much fun as the execution.
“No matter how much we do, there’s always going to be something else that we’re going to want to do,” he said. “We’re going to try to do as much as we can. Even if the plan falls apart, we still had fun. Just trying to do it is fun for us.”