Some Local High Schoolers Keep Hefty Workload Even in Summer

The Examiner
May 28, 2008

By Leah Fabel

WASHINGTON – In Montgomery County, some kids’ summers make the school year look like vacation, but experts say they’re doing just right to boost resumes and applications.

“Summers are extremely important” for high schoolers, said Steven Roy Goodman, author of “College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family.”

“The rule of thumb is to do something that you like to do, do a lot of it, and do it in some depth,” he said.

Montgomery Blair High School’s Louis Wasserman fits the bill. He’s been programming computers “since before [he] can remember,” led a Blair programming team that’s sending two sophomores to national championships, and this summer will share his skills with students attending the D.C.-area TIC Camp for technology and sports.

Beyond technology, however, the University of Chicago-bound senior hopes his students see programming as art by “taking the most abstract form of ideas that you can get, playing around with them, manipulating them and finding ways to make them more compact and elegant and efficient,” Wasserman said. “That’s art right there.”

The natural world drives Richard Montgomery junior Sarah Paleg, recently chosen as a Legacy Heritage Foundation Young Scientist.

The yearlong fellowship, awarded to only 26 American high schoolers, affords her a summer in Jerusalem to follow her two greatest passions: Israel and the environment.

Throughout a five-week stay at Hebrew University and one week of travel, Paleg and her peers will develop research projects and study Israeli history and politics.

Already, Paleg’s ideas are flowing: “The fact that every single house in Israel has a water heater on top of it – that’s just staring you in the face and saying, ‘We’re conserving water and energy and working to better our future, especially here in the desert.’ ”

Far from any deserts, Paleg’s classmate Jessi Strand will spend part of her summer on the Honduran coast.

She and eight soccer teammates will run camps and a tournament designed to attract local children, who will then learn about AIDS awareness.

Honduras has the highest HIV infection rate in the Americas, and many coastal communities are disproportionately affected.

“I’m really excited to communicate with them, to see what their daily life is like compared to mine,” Strand said, “and to do it through a universal language like soccer, so that everyone understands.”

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