Brandon Randle might possess the most valuable trait when it comes to being a student: a deep-rooted desire to learn.
It’s something that’s not only helped him achieve success in the classroom — the gifted 7th grader maintains a 4.0 grade point average at Harry Hurst Middle School and has earned high scores on his ACT (25) and LEAP tests — but also in his diverse extracurricular pursuits.
Randle recently finished first place in the state in the Young Authors for Poetry competition and as runner-up in Dow Chemical’s You be the Chemist parish level competition.
He’s also in the midst of teaching himself Spanish and college-level algebra in his own time, and as one might imagine, he’s an avid reader on top of all of it.
Where does he find the time and energy?
“I just like to pursue different things so you can find out what you like to do,” Randle said. “You have to designate time for all of it, but if I can help it I look for the time to work on everything.”
He’s made his parents proud said his father, Sylvester, but they are careful not to push him too far so he doesn’t get burned out.
“He’ll come to me and I’ll try and supply the resources to help him, expose him to things above his level … but I’ll tell you what, he is so extremely driven,” Sylvester said. “His teachers rave about him. He tries to balance everything out and you don’t want to push him. But at the same time, when your son is looking for so many ways to improve himself, you can’t be anything but proud and excited and just try to help him achieve it.”
Sylvester recalls helping with homework as his son came up; now, Brandon’s the one stepping in to help his eight and nine year old siblings.
“He has a way of breaking everything down that makes it easy to understand,” Sylvester said.
Randle initially took an interest in science around the third grade, stemming from a natural curiosity of how the world worked.
“I think chemistry was kind of the natural direction for me to take off of that,” Randle said. “It deals with how atoms work together to do all these things and make things what they are. That part of it really fascinates me.”
The You be the Chemist competition saw he and another competitor deadlocked after the regulation rounds were complete. Randle finished as the runner-up after the tiebreaker, but will still move on to the next phase of the competition, and a strong showing there will qualify him for the national competition, which includes an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C.
Still, he admits he wanted that state win.
“I knew the material,” he said. “It was disappointing, but I guess it just means I have to try harder next time.”
His interests span to the other side of the spectrum as well, as Randle is a creative writer who is in the midst of writing a short story, coming on the heels of his winning poem. The poem dealt with the challenges students face in learning and how teachers help them push through to reach their potential. One teacher he credits for helping him progress is Sammi Caillouet of Hurst, teacher of his 7th grade gifted English class.
One day, he hopes to become a doctor or engineer, with the former seemingly holding higher immediate interest. His test scores have qualified him to enroll in a modern medicine course held at Wake Forest this summer.
“I like the idea of becoming a doctor because it gives you a chance to directly help people and make positive changes in their lives,” he said.