In April 1 IssueBy Greg WellsTimes Journal Managing Editor
William "Chris" Brown is called Chris by his classmates, and this week the Russell County High School sophomore said he hopes his classmates remember him as they have always have, “as the geeky kid.”
Chris won't be with his friends next year. He won't be playing Oboe in the band. Laker games and prom will go on without him.
Chris will be at college.
The Gatton Academy is a special program for exceptional students in math and science at Western Kentucky University only accepts 60 students from across the commonwealth each year and this year Chris was the first student ever chosen from Russell County.
The high-achieving student has been giving up part of his summer vacations to study with Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth, and lists other “geeky” pastimes as his hobbies.
“I've always had a passion for math and science since I was little,” said the 15-year-old.
Now he will be away at college for his junior and senior years of high school. The special academy teaches dual credit classes at the university and the students live on campus in the recently rebuilt Snyder Hall.
Principal Darren Gossage said the school, and of course Chris' parents are proud of his accomplishments.
“They are giving up a lot,” Gossage said of Chris' parents. “Two years of high school, its a lot to miss out on, and they're expressing a lot of faith and trust in Chris.”
Chris said he is excited by the prospect of going to Bowling Green, and at the prospect of getting his license soon. But at college there will be restrictions, like curfews.
It isn't the “college lifestyle,” that drew the youth to the program, it is a love of science and math.
Geology and astronomy are the two favorites Chris names among the sciences. His dream job, analyzing data from remote rovers sent to other planets and moons in the future.
With an expected 60-hours of college credit at the end of his last two years of high school in the academy, and a three-year fully paid scholarship he is working to get to that job ahead of his peers.
“I could have a masters in two years after the academy,” he said with a gleam in his eye.
He grows more circumspect talking about missing his friends and no longer playing in the band, but grows animated again as the discussion returns to history.
“I really really do enjoy history,” Chris said. “Especially ancient civilizations.”
He goes on to describe the depth and quality of the laws and governments established by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Chris stops to point out that he also likes other things that people his age do, “you know like video games and stuff.”
But when asked more about history, and his name, he can recount how an illness suffered by his aunt is proof of his family's Viking roots in Scotland.
“We're from the Braun Clan,” he explains.
Whether his explorer roots will bear fruit in him he's not sure.
“If I had the chance I'd love to go into space,” Chris said. “But if I go to NASA I'll probably be one of those guys in a room looking at the data from a rover and working out what kind of mineral it has found.”