December 27, 2003
Old Newspaper Profile of the Moment
With aptitude tests, he's best
Residence: Glen Russ Lane
Biggest problem facing teens: Apathy -- kids don't care about getting good grades and don't take school seriously.
Hobbies: Reading, creative writing, video games, computer programs, playing the tuba.
Things no one knows: I'm a compulsive doodler; I hada a Jamaican accent for five years while living on St. Thomas Island in the Bahamas; I love to go barefoot.
By EREN WEBER Staff Writer
Q: What's smart, wears glasses and moves around a lot?
A: Euclid High School student and academic whiz kid Kirk Israel.
It's no joke, though -- even in high school year book pictures Israel, 17, has been spotted wearing glasses. And, as the sone of two Salvation Army church ministers, he's been forced to move from state to state and country to country often.
Although his teachers, family and friends could have told you Israel was a high scholastic achiever years ago, the recent results of national standardized acheivement tests now prove to the rest of the world that this high school senior has what it takes to get ahead.
On the Pre-Scholastic Aptitude Test, Israel answered 1,350 of 1,600 questions correctly. About 52,000 high school students take the PSAT in Ohio annually and, this year, Israel was among the top 100.
He takes the honor modestly and said that, although he's enrolled in advanced placement classes, that doesn't mean he's all that smart.
All it means to Israel is that he does well on standardized tests.
"I always thought of myself as being pretty lazy," Israel said. "I guess I get distracted a lot, which means I don't always get my school work done, but I still manage to get good grades."
College brochures and university applications are big distractions these days for Israel, who has set his sights on attending an ivy league school preferably near Boston.
Israel is attracted to the old American traditions that abound on the East coast, the museums and the relatives who live close to the city on the Charles River.
"Over the summer, Harvard sent me an application," he said. "I don't know if it had anything to do with my test scores, but I'm going to send it back anyway.
"Chances may be slim, but you never know."
Since then, however, his chances have improved. On the official standardized achievement test taken by more than half a million students in the nation, Israel upped his preliminary score of 1,350 to 1,490.
With those scores, Israel could be anything he wants to be. For now, though, he's considering a teaching profession, particularly at the high school level.
"The best teachers I've ever had used their creative talents and sense of humor to help me understand things," he said, "There's more to learning than just getting good grades."
Euclid residents may get a glimpse of Israel's talents on an upcoming episode of Academic Challenge, in which he may star as a contestant or be an alternate.
It all depends though, because as Israel put it, "I can't memorize answers -- I just know how to learn them."
--Euclid, Ohio's "Sun Scoop Journal, November 14, 1991. Found it while decluttering, decided I have to share it with all of you. Besides the author's misunderstanding of how standardized tests are graded, I'm kind of amused by that "love to go barefoot" line. It reads like it's from a Playboy playmate profile.
What a good kid I was...I'm surprised I didn't get beaten up more often.