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Student achievement

Hackett student radical about numbers


In Max Thomas’ world, this much is obvious: X squared equals radical 2x to the third power.


Got it?


Meet William S. Hackett Middle School’s math prodigy.


“When I see numbers, it’s like I see how things go together in math. It just comes to me easily,” said Thomas, an eighth-grader at Hackett whose nimbleness with numbers has allowed him to vault two years ahead of his peers in math.


Acceleration isn’t new to 12-year-old Thomas.

Back in the day, he skipped second grade. During fifth grade, advancement discussions started between his parents and district math supervisor Doreen Mitchell. He passed evaluation tests and started the 2009-10 school year as a Hackett sixth-grader taking honors math with students a year ahead of him.


“It was basically a partnership between the parents, Max and the school,” Hackett Principal Michael Paolino said. “Based upon our review, we felt he could handle the challenge and succeed.”


As a seventh-grader, he began taking integrated algebra – normally offered to ninth-graders – alongside accelerated eighth-graders at Hackett.

The experiment was a success.


Thomas ended the year with a 95 average in algebra. This year, he’s taking geometry, a course typically taken by sophomores.

Paolino said Thomas paved the way for other whiz kids at Hackett; one sixth-grader currently takes ninth-grade math.


Thomas is no slouch in other subjects, either. He’s fluent in Spanish. He takes across-the-board honors classes and excels
in all of them.


“English is my weakest subject,” he said. “I never really developed an interest in it.”

Still, he’s a big reader. His choices tend toward science fiction and fantasy of the Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams variety.
Not surprisingly, Thomas’ hobbies are math- and science-oriented.


“I really like robots,” he said. “I’ve designed a few simple vehicles using LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT.”


He also builds models and is working on building a collection of sunken ships.


“I want to be a computer engineer. If not that, maybe mechanical,” Thomas said. “I have an interesting concept for a train that runs on solar power. I have it all mapped out. It's a really good idea."


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