Though he’d been racing on dirt track motorcycles since age 9, when Deer Park High School senior Myles Donaldson took a landscaping job, he couldn’t use the machinery because of safety rules.
“I couldn’t even touch a drill,” Donaldson said with a chuckle. “It was just kind of torture, to shovel or rake all day.”
Donaldson, one of about 170 Deer Park students who will graduate June 12, is keeping his options open after commencement. It could include continued competition in flat-track racing, a motorcycle contest typically held on an unpaved, oval track. Donaldson is also interested in engineering and graphic design work, but is right at home helping out with the alfalfa harvest on his family’s farm.
“I love hiking, going places and traveling,” Donaldson said. “I’m kind of a mountain guy.”
Kevin Kernan has been teaching industrial arts at Deer Park for the past seven years but has a 37-year career in teaching technology. Donaldson quickly stood out in his ninth-grade engineering class, Kernan said, and the instructor now trusts Donaldson to make repairs on equipment in the lab that costs tens of thousands of dollars.
“I tell him, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with this thing, you’ve got to take a look at it,’ and then I come back a couple hours later and he’s got it working perfectly,” Kernan said. “That’s the kind of kid he is.”
Attending classes online over the past year put some of his projects in woodworking, welding and engineering on hold. But Donaldson was still able to compete in races, which were held outdoors and usually involve physical distancing.
Donaldson hopes the flat-track racing is retained at the Spokane Speedway, which is in the process of being sold by Spokane County to the Kalispel Tribe. He called the track “a second home.”
“If it leaves, we’re going to lose a lot of riders,” he said. “They’re going to lose something that they love to do.”
Donaldson picked up the sport from a family friend. None of his other family members raced motorcycles, but he hopped on a Kawasaki and didn’t look back. He’s now racing in the pro class.
“It’s a really nice atmosphere in the track family,” he said. “You have friends that are different than friends you have from school or work.”
Sherry Donaldson, Myles’ mother, said his conviction and dedication to the sport showed his character and individuality.
“He’s tried a lot of different sports,” Sherry Donaldson said. “He just didn’t like the group sports.”
Myles Donaldson would often defend flat track as a sport against peers who would tease that it isn’t, his mom said.
That independent spirit may be what’s driving her son to weigh his options before jumping into a four-year college commitment, Sherry Donaldson said.
“His preschool teacher gave him an award for imagination. He has lots of ideas and imagination,” she said.
Kernan said he could see Myles Donaldson working on product testing for new types of motorcycles, fabricating materials and testing them on the track, if that’s what he wants to do.
“He’s in probably the top five students I’ve taught at this institution,” Kernan said.
The loss of a normal senior year didn’t concern Myles Donaldson that much. He watched his sister, Shayla, graduate last year and head off to college without a prom, or other similar rite-of-passage events.
But as commencement day approaches, Myles Donaldson said he’d gained an appreciation for the time he can spend with classmates.
“I don’t go to a lot of the football games,” he said. “But having all that taken away, not having the opportunity to go, I kind of missed it.”
Donaldson’s well aware that those moments that have been hard to come by this year are almost over.
“In the end the things I’m going to miss – like most people in the class – we’re going to miss seeing each other,” he said.
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