Identical twins Gary and Steven Sivek of Manassas, Va., are National Merit Scholars with a string of academic honors in science, computing and math. They found time between events such as the USA Computing Olympiad to earn black belts in tae kwon do and gold belts in judo.
Stephanie Silberstein scored a perfect 800 on the math portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test and excelled at chemistry and computer science at Nottingham High School in Hamilton, N.J. She also played in the marching band and participated in school plays.
Thomas Walker III, a trombonist who three other instruments, was the first student from Romeoville High School to be named to the Illinois Music Teachers Association jazz band for three straight years. He also performed with the renowned Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.
This mix of strong academic and extracurricular accomplishment is a hallmark of the 981 members of the Class of 2006, who are on campus this week for orientation.
Josh Chartier graduated from Bend High School in Bend, Ore., with a perfect 4.0 grade average, even though he took the hardest courses offered. Chartier, who wants to become a physics professor, also earned letters in track, football and wrestling.
Austin Clements of Park City, Utah, is a self-described "brainy computer nerd," but he found time for ultimate Frisbee at Park City High School and relaxes by playing new age and classical piano.
Kevin W. Chen of Chesapeake, Va., learned English by watching "Sesame Street" when he was three, according to his mother, who along with her husband was born in Taiwan. Their son ended up graduating with the highest grade-point average in Western Branch High School's history. He even notified the College Board that one question on its Advanced Placement statistics test was impossible to answer as written. The board acknowledged that Chen was right.
When it came to a challenging class project on the human nervous system, Chen--an accomplished pianist and correspondent for his local newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot, tried a different approach. He handed out lyric sheets and explained the concepts through a class singalong.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 28, 2002.