Whiz Kids

BY CJ Williams

Quick wit lightning-speed intelligence youthful exuberance sound familiar? Were talking about Whiz Kids remarkable students bursting with ambition and demonstrating top-quality character traits that exemplify high achievement and impressive accomplishment. Whiz Kids are exceptionally talented in one or many subjects and have a passion to improve even further while pursuing high-flying goals.

So you might wonder do we have any Whiz Kids here in the Port City? You better believe we do. They just havent received the public recognition theyve earned until now. In an effort to spotlight the academic side of the equation and to find out where theyre off to next WBM presents two top Whiz Kids from each of our four outstanding public high schools proudly nominated by their principals.


Jackson Turbeville

Senior New Hanover High School

An AP scholar with distinction Turbeville hopes to study bio-chemistry or bio-physics at his first choice Furman his second choice Clemson where he received an impressive academic scholarship or at Duke. Furman is first on his list Turbeville says because he likes that its “a small liberal arts school in a city so you can have the small close campus life and then go out in the city and broaden your horizons that way as well.” Math and science are his strong points and after college he hopes to enter medical school to become a research physician. “I would like to be where the action is and actually participate in these future studies so that I might be able to make a difference in the world maybe discover something in the medical field ” Turbeville says. Outside of academics Turbeville participated in the North Carolina Music Teachers Association piano festival where he received superior ratings and was able to move on to the state level of performances.

Favorite Class AP chemistry

Favorite Teacher Linda Baker ninth grade math teacher

Study Style Share the wealth “By teaching my friends in study groups Im able to help them and I get the knowledge that I already know reinforced.”

Extra Credit Fencing (four years); piano (13 years).

New Hanover High School has prepared me for “life in college by teaching me to be open-minded and accepting of other peoples ideas.”


Alexandria Whitted

Senior New Hanover High School

On January 14 of this year Alexandria Whitted was delighted to learn that she had accomplished her goal of being accepted by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill for 2009. “Ive always wanted to go there ” Whitted says. “Its a great program; it has a great nursing school medical school a lot of diversity and its nearby. Two hours is far enough away but not too far.” Whitted will be attending the nursing/pre-med program with a minor in Spanish. She hopes to become an OB/GYN and one day open her own clinic. A peer health educator for the WHAT Center the past three years Whitted is already helping people her age and younger by making presentations about health awareness. But its not all work for Whitted; she also enjoys spending time with her friends who she describes as very diverse. “They dont all look like me or think like me ” Whitted says “so we learn a lot from each other and I really appreciate that.”

Favorite Class AP Biology

Favorite Teacher Ms. Busick calculus and algebra

Study Style Steady as she goes “I like to study a little bit each day so at the end I dont have to cram because I hate cramming for stuff. Im not a procrastinator; it makes me nervous.”

Extra Credit Hanging with friends

New Hanover High School has prepared me for “college and being studious. I have also learned a lot about different people that are not like me.”


Ash Stemke

Senior Laney High School

Morehead Scholarship finalist Ash Stemke sees himself one day conducting a symphony orchestra performing one of his own compositions in front of a crowd of thousands. A fluent reader and writer of music Stemke says “I compose a little bit of everything. A lot of the time I dont just sit down and start writing Ill just be somewhere and a tune will pop in my head and then I have to grab whatever paper I have around and write it down so I dont forget it.” Stemke will be attending UNC Chapel Hill in the fall where he will study music with a focus on violin the instrument he plays in the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra or piano. He is also considering studying chemistry which has recently become an interest of his. Aside from academics Ash also found time to captain Laneys swim team. “I would like to go to college and get a good education in a lot of different areas ” Stemke says “because I want to be happy with what I am doing and I can do that by getting a broad education in college.”

Favorite Class AP Chemistry

Favorite Teacher Mr. Perry AP chemistry

Study Style Stay grounded “The easiest place I find to read is lying down on my stomach on the floor in a quiet place with the book in front of me.”

Extra Credit Eagle Scout; swim team captain; mission trips to Mississippi Michigan and Tennessee

Laney High School has prepared me for “my future in college and beyond.”


Kelsey Hunt

Senior Ashley High

Its not every day that you run into a high school student who looks forward to digging up and dusting off bones but Ashley Highs Kelsey Hunt who intends to pursue a career in forensic anthropology would like nothing more than to do just that. “Forensic anthropology is cool because you can study cultures and travel all over the world ” Hunt says “which is something that I really want to do.” She is still deciding between College of Charleston and Emory University in Atlanta Georgia. In either case she will study bio-chemistry or forensics with a minor in anthropology. “I really like science ” Hunt says. “Im more of a math person but I really like science because its more interesting its not just like math math math.” Also a member of student council Hunt plays violin in the Wilmington Youth Symphony Orchestra reads the Bronte sisters and works at Squiglys ice cream shop in Carolina Beach. Hunt views her future with Whiz Kid clarity: “I want to be able to help people doing community service because I really enjoy that feeling.”

Favorite Class Calculus III at UNCW

Favorite Teacher Mr. Adams calculus II; Ms. Abraham AP biology

Study Style Review and relax “Usually I look over my notes and read on the beach.”

Extra Credit Surfing; scrapbooking; running; Habitat for Humanity; mission trips

Ashley High School has prepared me for “acceptance of all types of people because there seems to be a wide variety of personalities and cultures in this school so it teaches you how to relate to people different from you.”


Chris Armstrong

Senior Ashley High

Chris Armstrong has mixed feelings about leaving his twin brother and family to venture out into the world but in true Whiz Kid fashion hes also excited to see whats waiting for him on the other side. “I would always love to move back to Wilmington ” says Armstrong “and I dont know what kind of opportunities will come to me after college but I feel confident that whatever I choose to do is going to be the right thing.” Armstrong has been accepted to and will attend UNC Chapel Hill where he plans to study math biology pre-med or engineering. Recently he went on a mission trip to Kentucky where he helped repair houses and refurbish a church. “It opened my eyes to the fact that some people dont have the opportunities that we do. It was life-changing to see that ” Armstrong says. He has also volunteered 60 hours this past semester feeding the homeless of downtown Wilmington every Tuesday night and his senior project was centered on donations for the needy. Regarding his vision of whats to come: “I want to essentially live a life with no regrets and know that I did the best I could with what was given to me.”

Favorite Class Calculus II

Favorite Teacher Mr. Adams calculus II; Ms. Dixon Latin I II III; Ms. Abraham Honors Biology

Study Style Do the shuffle “Im kind of a music junkie so I listen to music all the time. When I sit down to do my homework I just put the iPod on and put it on shuffle.”

Extra Credit Football (wide receiver three years); track (three years); cross country one year); weight lifting; surfing; basketball

Ashley High School has prepared me for “life after school by making me confident in who I am and understanding of the fact that I have to be willing to work hard for what I want nothing is going to be given to me.”



Evelyna Kliassov

Senior Hoggard High

Evelyna Kliassov has seen more of the world at her age than most. She was born in London then moved to Toronto then on to Buffalo New York and finally to Wilmington. All that moving around has given her the travel bug and being interested in art the first stop on her list is Europe. “I have always wanted to travel to Italy and Greece and take an art class for a summer and create some extensive pieces and have them displayed in an exhibition ” she says. Kliassov a member of Hoggards art club points out that there is a miniature art community within the school that feeds her inspiration. A Morehead semi-finalist Kliassov was accepted by UNC Chapel Hill and is still waiting to hear from Duke. “A lot of my friends went to UNC and it has a really good science program so I will be able to take what I want there ” Kliassov says “but I like Dukes Cambridge-style buildings. Its very European and also a really good research school.” She is undecided about what she wants to study but is considering a science major such as pre-med with a minor in art with a focus in still life and acrylics.

Favorite Class: Physics seminar at ECU

Favorite Teacher: Ms. Greenwood and Ms. Dungan sciences

Study Style: Need for speed “Im usually a last-minute person; if I look at the information right before the test I remember it. I cant really do the whole study weeks in advance and be prepared because I usually forget it.”

Extra Credit: Tennis (four years/conference champions); Science Olympiad; National Art Honor Society; running

Hoggard High School has prepared me for “organization. Because I have taken on a lot at once Ive been forced to learn how to prioritize successfully.”


Molly Spears

Senior Laney High

Selected the last three years for English awards for Outstanding Performance in English and Writing Molly Spears cant wait to get out in the world as either a journalist or physical therapist. “I figured out in my junior year that I liked English and writing and that I was good at it ” she says. Spears will most likely study English with a minor in Spanish but she is also considering biology because of her interest in pediatric physical therapy. She has been awarded the Chancellors Scholarship at Appalachian State University and will matriculate there in the fall. During the summers Spears attends a sailing camp in Arapaho North Carolina so whenever she gets the chance to sail shes off with the wind which isnt a bad metaphor for the journey of her life: “I want to get into a position where I will be able do as much as I can to help people especially kids while also having the chance to travel a lot.”

Favorite Class 11th grade AP language

Favorite Teacher Ms. Jones and Ms. Moon past two English teachers

Study Style Tune in “I like to listen to music while I study pretty much anything that is on WAZO 107.5 FM. Im good with either a silent place or a loud place.”

Extra Credit Habitat for Humanity; Mother Hubbards Cupboard; Salvation Army; mission trips; varsity cross country (four years); varsity track (three years); Science Olympiad; Spanish club; beta club; National Honor Society Treasurer; prom committee; social marshal.

Laney High School has prepared me for “success in college and life beyond.”



John Berman

Senior Hoggard High

“I never get tired of math. There is actually a lot left to solve its hard to access but its there. Have you ever heard of the Riemann Hypothesis? They are a set of seven problems that a committee in 2000 decided were the seven biggest problems in mathematics and offered $1 million for a solution. I probably wont get it but its interesting.” Its all about numbers for Whiz Kid John Berman. He recently returned from the Romanian Masters of Math international competition placing a very prestigious second as one of six members of the U.S. team and has also competed in about a dozen national contests of the same ilk this past semester with no end in sight he attends math training summer camps to prep for future math competitions. He has been accepted to Duke and MIT and is still awaiting word from Harvard and Princeton. Berman hopes to study pure mathematics and plans to be a professor and researcher at a university. He was a semi-finalist for the Intel Science Scholarship and has applied for the National Merit Coke and State Math Contest Scholarships.

Favorite Class Physics

Favorite Teacher Mr. Taylor

Study Style The quiet quotient “I sit in a room quietly and study. I try to listen to music but it doesnt work.”

Extra Credit Math team; Science Olympiad; Latin club; tennis; piano (since first grade)

Hoggard High School has prepared me for “working with other people by helping me develop myself and my capabilities because before I came to high school I was a lot more shy.”