John Klement has attended numerous science camps over the past few summers, but the Duke Talent Identification Program camp at Davidson College near Charlotte, N.C., gave him a greater glimpse into the life he wants to someday lead.
"I really want to be a pediatrician," said John, the 14-year-old son of Patrick and June Klement, of Evans. "I love kids. That's kind of weird saying that since I'm just a kid myself!"
The program John attended this summer focused on disease transmission and immunology, an area of science this young scholar finds fascinating.
"That stuff is just interesting to me," the Greenbrier High School freshman said.
Having taken an advanced life science class at Green-brier Middle and having been one of the first students to go through the school's gifted program for science, John was among those to set standards by which future students will be measured.
"As teachers, we were learning our way through it," said Lisa Powell, a seventh-grade science teacher at Greenbrier Middle.
"John helped set the bar for others to follow."
Although he held the highest average in the class, Powell said, her former student stood for much more.
"He represented so much more than a numerical grade," she said of John, who is actively involved in Boy Scouts and plays the trombone in his school's marching band. "His passion for learning showed in each project he endeavored. Whether we were designing a bubble-blowing machine or debating the cloning issue, John always delved a little deeper into the subject."
"John excelled in other subjects as well," Powell said. "He took advanced math classes, which required him to travel to Greenbrier High each day while in eighth grade.
"He also participated in our academic bowl and math teams."
John's participation in the math team is something he looks back on with fondness. Because of his advanced math skills, he was one of a few students at Greenbrier Middle who skipped pre-algebra.
In addition to the Duke TIP camp, John has participated in the U.S. Space Camp at Huntsville, Ala., and the Young Scholars Institute at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton. John also was recognized for having the highest academic average among peers in his pod during his seventh- and eighth-grade years and was voted the best student in his eighth-grade class.
John recently was chosen as the youngest member of The Augusta Chronicle's Xtreme Teen Board.
"I kind of felt special," said John, who is an altar server at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church.
"I would just love to educate the teens about the community out there. There's so much to do that they don't even realize."
John still has much to do in the years ahead of him. For one, he has to get through high school, a seemingly simple task for a young man as smart as he is. And then there's the medical degree he hopes to pursue.
"I could envision John as a pediatrician," said Powell. "He certainly has the 'book smarts' to complete the rigorous requirements of medical school, but he also encompasses the compassion required to help others.
"John is definitely one of those students that I'll read about one day and say, 'I knew him when ...'"
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