On the right track: 10-year-old award recipient likes Harry Potter, shooting rubber bands
ZEPHYR COVE – Anders Chaplin enjoys English. And math, science and history. He also likes homework. He wants to attend Stanford University and become a doctor. He is a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Zephyr Cove Elementary School.
Chaplin, who also watches television newscasts to stay on top of current events, was picked as the Nevada recipient for the Nicholas Green Distinguished Student Award which recognizes gifted and talented children.
Besides a $500 U.S. savings bond, Anders won the recognition among a pool of about 20 other Nevada students from third to sixth grade, said Ardynne Sprinkle, awards chair for the Nevada Association for the Gifted and Talented.
“He’s on the right track,” Sprinkle said. “He sounds like a wonderful young man but also very down to earth.”
Sitting in his school’s library on Tuesday, his brown hair draped over his ears and down to his eyebrows, Anders was surrounded by many books he has absorbed reading. The young intellectual considered questions before answering, sometimes putting his hand under his chin like Auguste Rodin’s statue, “The Thinker.”
He admires “people who have made a difference in the world like Thomas Edison. I like the guys who have invented a lot.”
Report cards are filled with A’s but Anders has found the fifth-grade to be a bit challenging with how long it takes to finish class assignments.
“I can no longer do all my homework on the bus,” he explained.
One admirer, Zephyr Cove Elementary Principal Chris Perdomo, playfully jabbed Anders in the shoulder while he sat in the library. “I’m very proud of Anders and his reward but I’m not surprised because he’s an outstanding student and very involved in the community,” she said.
The reward is named after Nicholas Green, who was killed in 1994 by highway robbers in a drive-by shooting in Italy. Nicholas’ parents set up the award to recognize gifted and talented children who are around the same age as 7-year-old Nicholas was when he died.
Last summer Anders spent time in Houston at a space camp but found the experience disappointing since models were done with “paper and glue” instead of “wires and batteries.”
Using his knowledge of current events, Anders knows Kingsbury Middle School might close soon because of declining enrollment at the three Lake Tahoe schools in Douglas County. He also knows the Spanish program was cut over the summer. The district’s board of trustees slashed the program because of budget concerns.
— Anders on Kingsbury Middle School: “I looked forward to the start of school because this is probably my last year here unless the middle school closes. I look forward going to a new school. I’ve never been inside the middle school so I’m pretty excited about that.”
— Anders on the defunct Spanish program: “(It) made me a little angry because when you’re young it’s easier to learn Spanish than when you’re older and it’s good when you’re older to speak another language than English.”
— Anders on girls: “They sap all your money out of your pocket.”
For all his answers, he seemed at a loss of words on the four rubber bands wrapped around his wrist. The brainiac admitted to a wild side when he said he flings the rubber bands across the room when the teacher is distracted. They’re also used as a distraction for him, a thing to play with when thinking.
He estimated his bookshelf at home contains about 100 to 200 books. Harry Potter is a favorite series. He said he read the latest installment, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and its 652 pages, in two days.
A general practitioner doctor appeals to his sense of wanting to help people, much like he does by implementing a program to assist those affected by the Sumatran tsunami or tutoring classmates in the classroom or on the bus.
“I like to learn a lot,” he said. “I like to know what’s going on.”
And it helps to have friends in high places. Nevada State Treasurer Brian Krolicki, a close friend of the Chaplin family, wrote a letter of recommendation for Anders. It was one of about 30 such letters, said Sprinkle, Nevada Association for the Gifted and Talented.
“He’s like a renaissance kid,” Krolicki said. “He’s good at just about everything and he’s a normal kid. He conducts himself as any young kid in the neighborhood does while at the same time he’s capable of some profound things.”
“I mean this is a young man who will be a joy to watch (growing up).”