Columbia HS Inducts Ayesha K. Faines '04 and Michael C. Ghegan '86 into Hall of Fame

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Columbia High School welcomed their newest inductees into the CHS Hall of Fame in a ceremony Thursday morning in the school’s auditorium.

Ayesha K. Faines, Class of 2004 and Michael C. Ghegan, Class of 1986, were inducted into the hall of fame due to their outstanding accomplishments in their fields and their dedication to the betterment of society. 

Ayesha Faines, who passed away in 2021 at the age of 35, was a renowned journalist, poet, and entrepreneur. She excelled at ballet as well as academically — as a high school junior, she became a Telluride Scholar. She founded Women Love Power, a digital platform to empower women, and she broke ground for girls of color. After graduating from CHS, she went to Yale University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Near East Languages and Civilization. Her career took her to WJXT in Jacksonville FL, The Grapevine, CNBC, and Zora magazine.

A video with a mix of Faines’ interviews and interviews with friends and colleagues, including Johanna Wright, former Board of Education member and teacher of Faines, was played for the audience. Her parents, retired judge Bahir Kamil and Dr. Ruby J. Sampson accepted the award on their daughter’s behalf.

Ghegan opened his remarks with a tribute to Faines, saying that she was a force of nature and that he regrets not being able to meet her.


Yearbook photos of Ayesha Faines and Michael Ghegan.

Ghegan is an accomplished saxophonist as well as a keyboardist, singer, composer, and producer. He’s toured with Elton John, Justin Timberlake, Aerosmith, and The Allman Brothers Band. After graduating from CHS, Ghegan went to Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts.  

“I followed through, went to Rutgers, played ball, (and) got into the conservatory,” Ghegan told students. “I got quickly kicked out of the conservatory because I had a very famous Grammy Award winning saxophone teacher. And he hated me because I was in the jock program and he clearly wasn’t in high school or college, and he had no time…because I was lacking in musical ability. I just hadn’t had the teachers yet. So I got pink slipped on that my first semester. There was another saxophone teacher that showed up that year and he goes, ‘this kid’s funny. I get a kick out of him, give me one semester.’ And I did one semester with him and I was with Elton John two years later.”

Ghegan “grew up” at CHS, where his father was a teacher. His mother worked, and there was no babysitter, so his father took him to work with him in room B105. 

Ghegan encouraged the students, “You don’t have to know what you want to do right now. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I didn’t know that what I was going to end up doing was even possible. My point is take every opportunity to do something…I’ve been touring around the world playing music. It’s so ridiculous. With people that I grew up listening to and it’s just because I showed up, and I showed up every day. I do work because I love the work.”

The ceremony closed with Ghegan jamming with the CHS band. 

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