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Age is no impediment for this young grad

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — June 1, 2010 — Attend enough high school commencements, and the graduates seem younger than ever before.
At this year’s Monticello ceremony, that will definitely be the case when Jared Weiss receives his diploma.
At age 14.
As one of two valedictorians.
“I skipped third grade,” Jared will tell you.
And seventh. And eighth. He wrapped those into his ninth-grade year.
Which would have been this year, except that he’s now about to skip tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades, too, so when exactly he was a middle-schooler is rather nebulous.
In fact, he’s not even 14 yet. June 6 is his birthday, just three weeks before Monticello’s commencement.
But this Bethel native is more than ready for college, say his parents and Monticello’s superintendent, Patrick Michel. After all, he’s already taken courses with Johns Hopkins University (entering their Center for Talented Youth at age 10), Siena College, Dickinson, Moravian, Franklin & Marshall, and Sullivan County Community College.
He’s now amassed 21 college credits. Topics include chemistry, calculus, physics – often relating to Jared’s love of math and the sciences.
That’s on top of nearly a decade of straight As in elementary and high school – in every subject.
“He aced all the eighth-grade year-end testing when he was in the fourth grade,” points out his mom, Beth, a patient advocate and self-described “domestic engineer.”
“He already relates well to people who are older,” adds dad Jonathan, a physician. “His maturity matches their maturity.”
Beth and Jonathan noticed their son’s amazing academic abilities early on, especially on vacations and trips to see family. The then-four-year-old would read every highway sign aloud.
“And then he said, ‘Do you want to know what’s on the next sign?’” Jonathan recalls.
That sign was not yet in sight, but Jared rattled off not just its text but the contents of every sign thereafter – miles ahead of their location.
The photographic memory came with a thirst for knowledge and a capacity to apply it. Once he graduated from the Homestead School in Glen Spey, Jared moved on to Monticello, where the faculty gave him multiple opportunities to leap ahead of his peers.
“We allowed him to accelerate in the areas he excelled – which was everything,” relates Michel.
Beth and Jonathan admit to some prodding to make that happen, but only with the staff and faculty. Jared was always involved in the decision-making, they said, never being forced.
“I think it was a more natural progression,” Beth explains.
“There really is no good reason to hold him back,” adds Jonathan. “We’re behind him all the way.”
Michel says the school worked with Jared’s parents to ensure emotional and social development as well as academic.
“The Weisses really balanced that well,” he affirms. “That’s also a real compliment to our guidance staff, our teaching staff and our administrators.”
They all helped turn Jared into a well-rounded student, athlete, classroom tutor and even musician, favoring the electric guitar.
Indeed, Jared is a walking advertisement for the school district – well-spoken, collected, and confident without being arrogant or showy.
“Some of it is just how you feel inside,” he explains, adding he doesn’t regret missing out on a longer grade-school experience. “The positives far outweigh the negatives.”
In the fall, he’ll be attending Bard College at Simon’s Rock, a Massachusetts institution focusing on young, creative minds. Though currently unsure of his major, Jared is fairly certain he’ll study the sciences.
“And I expect to certainly do a good deal of post-graduate work,” he adds.
His parents are naturally sad to see him go, but they agree it’s time.
“It’s almost selfish keeping him home,” mulls Beth. “It’s a gift – he was born with it – and you don’t want to waste that.”
Still, she admits with a smile, “he’ll be getting his first cellphone before going off to college!”
And someday soon, he may be joined by his brother, Aaron, now 12 and on a similar track as Jared. Michel said to keep an eye out for about five other Monticello students, as well.
“We’re very proud of Jared, helping him grow in such a way that he’s going to be successful,” he relates. “We’re here to help and support children – where they are and where they need to go.”

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