Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian
A nine-year-old boy from Pennsylvania who loves science and computer programming has become one of the youngest ever high school graduates, and he has already started accumulating some credits toward his college degree.
David Balogun recently received a diploma from Reach cyber charter school – based in his state’s capital of Harrisburg – after taking classes remotely from his family home in the Philadelphia suburb of Bensalem, the local television station WGAL reported Saturday.
The achievement makes David one of the youngest known children to ever graduate high school, according to a list compiled by the history and culture website oldest.org.
The only person on that list younger than David was Michael Kearney, who still holds the Guinness world record for youngest high school graduate that he set when he was six in 1990 before he ultimately obtained master’s degrees at 14 and 18 and won more than $1m on gameshows. David would come in higher on that list than Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow, who was 11 when he finished high school.
David told WGAL that he already knows which he wants to dedicate his professional life to once he completes his education.
“I want to be an astrophysicist, and I want to study black holes and supernovas,” he said to the station.
David’s parents both have advanced academic degrees, but they told WGAL that it is challenging to raise a child with such an extraordinary intellect.
“I had to get outside of the box,” David’s mother, Ronya, said to the outlet. “Playing pillow fights when you’re not supposed to, throwing the balls in the house. He’s a nine-year-old with the brain that has the capacity to understand and comprehend a lot of concepts beyond his years and sometimes beyond my understanding.”
David told WGAL that some of his favorite teachers helped keep him engaged with his studies and pushed him to keep progressing.
“They didn’t bog me down,” he said. “They … advocated for me, saying, ‘He can do this. He can do that’.”
One instructor said to WGAL: “We’re just proud that we [were] able to individualize his instruction.”
David’s teachers also said that they learned from their uncommonly bright pupil, whose loved ones describe him as a computer programming and science whiz.
His science teacher, Cody Derr, remarked: “David was an inspirational kid, definitely one who changes the way you think about teaching.”
David, a member of the high intelligence quotient society Mensa, has done one semester at Bucks county community college since graduating from Reach charter. Meanwhile, he and his family have been doing their research into other colleges and universities to try to find the one that is best suited for a boy who – besides his academics – is pursuing a martial arts black belt, enjoys other sports and plays the piano.
“Am I going to throw my nine-year-old into Harvard while I’m living in [Pennsylvania]?” David’s father, Henry, said of the family’s college search. “No.”
Unless, perhaps, it’s the right fit.