I have spent the last two days or so in Tallahassee, Florida, supporting my young mentee Aaron Beaste and his crew, wikiemol, and Lil’ Cody, at the Florida History Fair. Just getting to the Florida History Fair was no easy feat. They first had to beat out challengers at their school, a school for academically gifted students, then win at the county level. This year’s theme was “The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies”.
They entered an absolutely monster documentary covering the contributions of comic book creator Stan Lee. According to their thesis, by adding a personal and social dynamic to his characters, Stan Lee was able to take on themes like racism and sexism in his comics. They did not win; however, just being invited to compete was an achievement in itself.
Over the past few weeks as these three fourteen year olds prepared for the competition, I got to know them better. And as the time progressed, my respect and admiration for and fascination with these young men grew. If I had only been that absolutely talented and focused when I was their age, I’m not certain just how far I could have gone.
I have seen the future in these three young men, and the future is indeed bright. Despite the many distractions and temptations faced by young people these days, these young men have continued to achieve. Despite being ridiculed daily as nerds and geeks, these young men have actually embraced their outsider status and use it as an inspiration to be successful.
Remember the names, remember the faces because I guarantee you’ll be hearing from them in the future. Congratulations wikiemol, Aaron Beaste, and Lil’ Cody (from left to right)! Your parents and I are all so, so proud of you.