Pierre Liptons idol isnt a music legend, movie star or professional athlete its a statistician by the name of Hans Rosling.
Rosling is a Swedish doctor whos included on international lists of the 100 leading global thinkers (Foreign Policy magazine) and 100 most creative people in business (Fast Company magazine). Hes done TED talks (at the global conferences dedicated to ideas worth spreading) on international development; has researched links between economic development, agriculture, poverty and health in Africa, Asia and Latin America; and co-founded Gapminder, a nonprofit promoting sustainable global development and achievement.
He relates concepts about world poverty and significant moments in a countrys development through several different interesting theories, said Pierre, a 15-year-old sophomore at Myers Park. He has also inspired me to do my (International Baccalaureate) personal project on the correlation between womens empowerment and the development/wealth of countries.
Pierre drew further inspiration for his project after reading Half the Sky, by New York Times journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The way they write about such terrible issues across the world is both fantastic and startling, Pierre said.
Horizons program leader
As a sophomore, Pierre is taking four college-level courses at Myers Park, including calculus, Spanish IV, human geography, and engineering in which he won the most accomplished student award. He is vice president of the schools chess club and captain of its WorldQuest team. He is also a graduate of Randolph Middle Schools Horizons program for academically gifted students.
He first noticed academic concepts in math and English coming easily to him in fifth grade. He finished exams before his classmates and said he understood equations more quickly.
Seeking a challenge for middle school, he enrolled in the Horizons program. Students in the program experience an accelerated learning environment, and are typically performing two to three years beyond peers, according to the programs website.
(Horizons) was such a pivotal moment for me, Pierre said.
Sarah Wheeler, the Horizons programs language arts and humanities teacher, said Pierre excelled in all aspects of his academic career, but that one personality trait set him apart from his peers his kindness.
He is infallibly kind to everyone he meets. Pierre never met a stranger when I knew him, and could be asked to step in and work flexibly and in an encouraging, friendly way with literally any other student, Wheeler said.
He sustained this generosity of spirit throughout all three years of being in the program. This is particularly noteworthy for gifted adolescent boys who sometimes want to control the proceedings with their intellects.
At Randolph, Pierre also participated in the National Academic League (NAL). Teams of about five people play matches to see who can answer questions in the categories of science, social studies, math and language arts; make group presentations and more. Teacher Michael Pillsbury coached Pierre.
(Pierre) is an excellent young man and hes always smiling, Pillsbury said. On top of that, he has extraordinary intellect.
Pierre was on the 2009 Randolph NAL team that took second place at nationals, losing to a junior high team from Arizona that included ninth-graders (Randolph Middle has grades six through eight). Theyd traveled to Providence High to compete via webcast.
Everybody was solemn on the ride home, Pillsbury said. I just remember seeing this little guy in the back of the bus who, at one point, stood up and exclaimed: Were still the best middle school in the United States!
Everyone on the bus cheered, Pillsbury laughed. He was our spirit and I will never forget that.
National NAL title
In 2010, Pierre helped the team win the national title.
The game went into double-extra time. It was a real nail-biter, Pierre said. When the final question was asked, it felt like all of our lives depended on getting it right.
The win came down to answering: What is the scientific study of reptiles? The opposing team incorrectly answered reptology, Pierre said. Randolph picked up the championship win by answering herpetology.
I will never forget how amazing those few seconds felt, when I finally realized that we were the best in the country, Pierre said.
Now Pierre goes back to Randolph to help manage buzzers, moderate matches, and give what he calls cliché pep talks.
Pillsbury said its so beneficial to have someone that understands NAL, because it can be complicated.
Pierre plays tennis every day, plays chess each Thursday and gives chess lessons on Tuesdays. He recently placed 20th in the 2012 National High School Championship, held in Minneapolis in April.
For college, he has his sights set on Oxford, Cambridge or MIT, he said, although Oxford has a family edge: Both his mother and maternal grandfather (a former United Nations ambassador) attended that English university.
He toys with becoming an engineer or architect, maybe an ambassador.
I want to go places, Pierre said. I hope to be able to hone in (on) a subject that interests me enough to make a living out of it.