Marion High School’s collective GPA may fall a few points next year, as two of its brightest students are “dropping out” at the end of this semester.
Sophomores David Francis and Larry Zieammermann finalized their intent to attend the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science at Fort Hays State University on Friday at an academic signing at MHS.
David, who comes from a military family that has moved around a lot, said he is used to change and is ready for “full college immersion, not just dual enrollment with friends in high school.”
“I attended a Cambridge program like this when I lived in Washington but I had to leave that behind when I came to Kansas,” David said. “My mom said, ‘Hey Kansas has these programs, too, and it’s not so bad.’ Once I checked it out, I was all gung-ho.”
Larry, who has lived in Marion all his life, is looking forward to the challenge of college coursework.
“I get bored with classes here sometimes,” Larry said. “Right when I heard about this program, I wanted to do it. It just took me a while to convince my parents.”
Where David had “already proven himself” to his parents, Larry just kept on being himself, until a campus visit helped him encourage his parents to say yes.
“They were worried I would be irresponsible and not take care of myself,” he said. “Then they saw I wouldn’t be completely alone.”
Jared Cook of FHSU said Larry and David represent the first time the KAMS program has ever had two students from one school at one academic signing.
“This also is the first time that Marion High School has had a student, let alone two students, enter our KAMS program,” Cook said.
The KAMS program is an early entry to college program in which David and Larry will live at FHSU as they attend their junior and senior years of high school, taking college classes alongside traditional college students, Cook said. Their tuition and book fees will be paid for by the state of Kansas.
“Because we are paying for all that we want the cream of the crop, we want the best students, and we absolutely have that with Larry and David,” Cook said.
Both students’ ACT scores were “way past” the minimum score of 23 for admittance, he said. While their high school GPAs also were “fantastic,” Cook said an “outpouring of positive comments” from teachers also helped solidly indicate that Larry and David were each mature enough and ready for a “rigorous college curriculum” and experience.
“It’s mostly gen-ed classes with some electives,” Larry said. “We won’t officially select a major but all the classes will have an emphasis on STEM learning [Science, Technology, engineering, and mathematics].”
David added that they would take 68 credit hours that follow STEM fields, but would be allowed to take upward of 100 hours if they wished.
Both teens said they were strongest in mathematics.
“I like a little bit of everything,” Larry said, “but if I had to choose one area in mathematics I would say the computer side, coding.”
David prefers mathematics because of logical steps it takes to get an exact answer.
“With English problems it’s up to interpretation, but with math the answer is always solid,” he said. “The answer is five or the square root of pi. It’s not going to be something like ‘well it’s almost this.’
Once each earns their high school diploma through the KAMS program, they can continue at Fort Hays or attend another college.
“I’m not really sure what I want to do yet, probably something in the STEM category,” Larry said. “Whatever I do I know I will probably at least want to get a masters, so the two-years-ahead-thing will help me out there.”
Conversely, David has an exact plan.
“I want to be a lawyer,” he said. “That’s what my goal has been for the longest time. STEM is probably not the best for being a lawyer, but it will definitely help.”
David also has aspirations of attending Harvard College or another Ivy League school after he completes the KAMS program.
Once they move, Larry and David will live in a special dorm for KAMS students that David said is separated into male and female areas.
“It is strictly prohibited for wither gender to be on the other side,” David said. “If you get caught on then you get booted from the program.”
He pondered the idea of a roommate.
“I’ve heard from other people and from what it says online roommates either end up being really good friends or they hate each othe,” David said. “I’m not sure if it will be like having a sleepover; hanging out with your friends every single night or all day you might get a little bit board, but I’m hoping that if I have a roommate I will like them.”
Leaving some lifelong friends behind, Larry said he thought a roommate would be “fun” as long as he gets a “good” one.
“It will definitely be weird living in a different place,” he said. “But it’s pretty close, so it’s not going to be too different.”
Larry’s parents want him to visit home at least once a month, but there’s a catch.
“They aren’t letting me take my car up until after the first mid-terms,” Larry said. “I guess it’s like a test to see if I can do it.”
David is looking forward to having more independence.
“I think everyone has had that time when their parents have been out all day,” David said. “Well I’m looking forward to having that all the time, so there is no one coming home who will be like, “Did you finish your homework?”