Straight talk from Semifinalists

by BRITTANY DUNCAN

neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

Will Cowell likes to bake. Eric Young enjoys playing basketball and using catchphrases such as “okie dokie” or “not too shabby.” William Lee is concertmaster for the Missouri Youth Orchestra.

Who are these students and why should you know them?

They were among a group of eleven from Hickman High School honored as National Merit Semifinalists in September after placing in the top tier of students who took the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, or PSAT, their junior year.

We took this opportunity to get to know a few of these young scholars. They’re in bands. They’re athletic. They’re funny and down to earth. Meet some of Hickman’s 2010 National Merit Semifinalists:

Cyrus Rautman

Tell me a little about yourself.  This is an open question– please answer however you want.

I really love choir. Being able to create truly beautiful music with all these other people is incredible and you get so close to the group you’re with. Other than that, I like being outside and I slap the bass a little on the side. I’m not awesome, but it’s fun.

What are your career goals? Life goals?

I’m pretty much going to change the world. Just kidding, I actually hope to double major in psychology and music, with an emphasis on how the brain responds to music and the role of music in therapy. I’m also planning to take bass lessons in college.

What kind of music do you listen to?  Who are your favorite artists?  What is it about that musician that you like?

I mostly listen to alternative, reggae and classic rock but I am totally not opposed to a little R&B and hip-hop every now and then. Specifically, I really like the Shins, Matisyahu, Franz Ferdinand, Radiohead, Broken Bells, etc. I like music that is interesting musically and usually I like very melodic or rhythmic music. Artists with a kind of surreal, ambient flavor are also really good.

Describe your generation for me.

My generation is well-intentioned and in general very nice people. I just wish there were a little more activism and idealism today. But all in all, ours really isn’t the worst generation to grow up with.

Describe your parents’ generation.

The previous generation can be at times more idealistic and at times more old-fashioned than this generation. Sometimes I feel like at our age, they must have been a lot like us. And other times I feel like they were entirely different.

What’s your best study tip?

I definitely always play music while I’m studying or doing homework or whatever. I cannot work in silence. I’ve heard it’s especially useful to associate one particular artist or album with each subject, although I hardly ever put that much thought into it. I just make a homework playlist and start working.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Peace.

Will Cowell

Tell me a little about yourself.

There’s nothing interesting about me other than the fact that I play lead guitar in a local rock band (Frequency 109) and enjoy baking to the point of exhaustion (especially at night – nothing beats a good midnight Texas sheetcake). Being the tall person I am, I also dabble in basketball, but while I do enjoy it, I’m really not that great. Also, I’ve had quite a few people tell me I look just like Jesus, but I’m not sure how close the resemblance really is.

And it bugs me to no end if I can’t phrase something in just the way I intend to. While I’m not the biggest Mark Twain fan, his quote, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning,” really encapsulates my feelings about writing. I guess that’s a bit of an idiosyncrasy in today’s emoticon-based text language.

Bonus factoid: “boomtown” is my word of choice to describe everything that’s good. I know it was popularized by the Rock Bridge soccer team and all, but as the co-father of the term’s use at HHS, I feel as though it’s partially my word.

What are your career goals?  Life goals?

As of now, I’m torn between what’s been my career plan for the past few years (go to college and medical school to become some sort of physician) and my desire to just go and live a hippie-style life somewhere. I suppose I could always find a happy medium between the two – the career path of “weird holistic healer” (a la the Seinfeld “The Heart Attack” episode) seems pretty much on target. Although really, I’ll almost definitely end up going with the former of the two choices. I just want to be at peace with myself and, if at all possible, the world.

What kind of music do you listen to?  Who are your favorite artists?  What is it about that musician that you like?

Music is an integral part of my life, both as a listener and as a creator, so choosing just a couple artists is really a tough task. At the moment, I’ve been pretty heavily into stuff along the lines of Radiohead, Oasis and Interpol, but Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths, Kid Cudi, Wilco, Modest Mouse, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, MGMT and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are all worthy candidates. And the Flaming Lips – their show on Sept. 18, 2010, changed my life.

As for what makes an artist or a group likable to me, I really can’t say for sure. I appreciate real, honest emotion in music (which, admittedly, Mr. Phil Overeem, HHS teacher, Academy of Rock sponsor, and all-around beast – in a good way – of a man, would argue as being severely lacking among my favorite artists, but whatever) and, from my songwriter’s perspective, an interesting musical structure and a relatable set of lyrics.

Describe your generation for me.

I despise my generation. The closed-minded and self-centered attitudes that I see in so many of the people my age at school and around Columbia don’t so much raise concerns from me about the future of mankind or anything like that as much as they just make me ashamed to be associated with my peers. Then again, that’s just me being a judgmental and angsty narcissist who’s bitter that not everyone else is exactly like him, and I’m hopeful that most of that’s just the fact that we’re all teenagers who have no clue about anything, least of all about ourselves.

Describe your parents’ generation.

I can’t really say anything educated about my parents’ generation. Sure, they’ve lived through what has probably been the most rapid expanse of human presence (“presence” isn’t quite the word I’m looking for, but it’s the right idea. “Capability”, maybe?) in history (people on the moon, the creation of the internet and Barack Obama all within the span of 40-ish years? Impressive.), but I’m honestly not that moved by this recent chunk of humanity as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but I feel like that despite all its innovations, their generation has been one I would have easily have passed up on in favor of, say, 16th century Europe.

What’s your best study tip?

God knows that nobody in their right mind should take study tips from me. My best advice is to take all your tests sans shoes – maybe it’s just a gimmick, but it’s worked pretty well for me so far this year.

I’m not sure if it counts as a “study tip” per se, but question everything. Think critically and actively engage whatever it is you’re studying or reading – not only will it make understanding it easier, but you’ll also feel like the pseudo-intellectual that everybody at least kind of wants to be.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I have a washing machine I’d like to sell that I didn’t want to shell out any money to put in the classifieds, so if I could get a mention about that in here somewhere, I’d owe you bigtime.

Oh, and peace, love and boomtown.

William Lee

Tell me a little about yourself.

I always try to challenge myself in school by taking AP classes and joining as many clubs I can fit into my schedule. My main extracurricular activity is playing the violin as I participate in school orchestra, am concertmaster for the Missouri Youth Orchestra and play music for weekly mass at the Newman Center.

What are your career goals?  Life goals?

I am currently keeping my options open for a career path but I might follow my sister’s steps and become a medical doctor.

What kind of music do you listen to?  Who are your favorite artists?  What is it about that musician that you like?

The music I listen to includes punk rock, rap, hip hop, pop and some rock. As for favorite artists, a few include Taio Cruz, Jason Derulo, Linkin Park, The White Tie Affair and Usher.

Describe your generation for me.

My generation, when seen within Hickman, seems to be a relatively even mix of students in different groups such as in music or in sports. I also have the feeling that our generation is more laid back but at the same time inwardly dedicated as class officer elections often pass by quietly but homecoming activities are actively carried out.

Describe your parents’ generation.

It is hard for me to describe my parents’ generation since they came from Korea, but based on their stories it seems that their generation was much more competitive academically than ours.

What’s your best study tip?

Don’t procrastinate.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I see myself often moving between cliques at Hickman as I go from the large fine arts group to the nerd group to the sports group each day.

Eric Young

Tell me a little about yourself.

I’d like to think I’m a pretty relaxed guy with a good sense of humor. I enjoy playing basketball with my friends, or just sitting around with them. My favorite subject is math. I love football, American football, and my favorite TV show is The Office. I use funky sayings such as “okie dokie” or “not too shabby” as often as possible. I also smile a lot, regardless of whether or not something was actually funny…life is just much more fun if you go through it with a smile.

What are your career goals?  Life goals?

My career goal is to become an engineer. I’d like to figure out how to travel the speed of light…but I doubt that will happen. I also wouldn’t mind being a politician, or a teacher, so we’ll see. As for life, whose goal isn’t just to be happy? I hope to have a family and spend bunches of time with them.

What kind of music do you listen to?  Who are your favorite artists?  What is it about that musician that you like?

I listen to everything but country and rap. My favorite station is 93.1 Jack FM, followed by 102.3 BXR. My favorite artists are Weezer, Green Day, Journey, Barenaked Ladies, Blink 182, Counting Crows and so on. I’m not really sure why I like the music I like, but I guess it depends on the group. Green Day has the best mix of drums, guitars and vocals, Barenaked Ladies is funny, and the rest just sound good.

Describe your generation for me.

My generation is obsessed with fitting in and technology, but I’m not sure that’s unique for my generation. While many people are unwilling to be themselves, and instead just follow the crowd, I feel Hickman is an amazing school in that there are plenty of students willing to gain popularity by being original instead of mimicking whatever is “popular.” And of course, technology, the defining quality of my generation. Technology is quite the rage at the moment, and along with more technology comes increased isolation. Instead of talking face-to-face with someone, we text, which is convenient, but reduces real human interaction. In our defense, it is really convenient…

Describe your parents’ generation.

Well, first of all, their generation is old. Other than that, they seem to complain a lot, but once again, I don’t think that’s unique to them. Politicians have gone crazy with, “Let’s fix this mess,” but quite honestly, I’m not seeing a mess. Sure, the world’s not a perfect place, but complaints don’t help. At the same time, all the members of my parents’ generation that I know seem pretty cool, and quite similar to us kids.

What’s your best study tip?

The best study tip is to study, which seems pretty obvious, but I’m not sure everyone grasps that concept. It’s always best to make yourself guess the answer when you study, not just look at it. That could mean covering up the answer and guessing, or restarting the math problem and seeing if you get the same answer.

Thomas Majerus

(No picture provided)

Tell me a little about yourself.

I play tennis and I basically love competition. I like hanging out with my friends and playing sports. I dislike all structure, deadlines or any form of organization whatsoever.

What are your career goals?  Life goals?

I honestly don’t have many ideas about this. I could end up being or doing anything. I know I would like to be affluent some day, and own my own basketball court.

What kind of music do you listen to?  Who are your favorite artists?  What is it about that musician that you like?

I love pretty much all music, but my definite favorite is hip-hop, followed closely by rock. My favorite artists include Kid Cudi, Jay-Z, Nas, U2 and Taylor Swift. I like clever lyrics and a good beat, or a story song. I also just love songs that are great songs to sing to, like “Semi Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind.

Describe your generation for me.

Full of spontaneity, due to short attention spans and an increasingly large amount of communication. By that I mean that we are being overloaded with meaningless information about one another. We know more about our friends than we do about science and math.

Describe your parents’ generation.

Baby boomers. The last generation to be able to die before technology and morals finally come to a head. We think that stem cell research and abortion are hot button issues, yet we haven’t even scratched the surface of scientific capabilities. It will be tumultuous times once cloning is perfected, killing is made even simpler, and privacy is completely lost.

What’s your best study tip?

Eat a good breakfast.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Columbia-Boone County, Parkade, Schools

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s