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Student finds success by pushing limits

To his teachers at Forest Charter School, Matthew Rongey is a science whiz kid.

In March of this year, the 17-year-old senior won the Best of Show in the high school division at the Nevada County Science Fair. In May, he got the second position in the behavioral science division at the State Science Fair in Los Angeles.

This month, Rongey was named a commended student by the National Merit Scholarship program. This means he is ranked among the top 34,000 students of the total 1.4 million candidates who took the PSAT test in 2005.



“I’ve always liked science and math,” Rongey said. “I like the semi-concreteness of it all. … In science there is always more that you can discover and do with it.

“My parents have always instilled in me a desire to discover and explore. They’ve always wanted me to push my limits.”




Rongey has, indeed, pushed his intellectual boundaries, but his interests are not restricted to science. He is also fascinated by creative writing – penning short stories and screenplays, computer animation, and Web designing.

This semester, Rongey is taking classes in advanced placement English, creative writing, advanced placement economics, drama, computer animation and pre-calculus – a testimony to his wide interests.

“Matthew’s versatility is partially born out of the church youth groups he is involved in,” said David Rongey, Matthew’s father. “A lot of it may be inspired by some of the reading he does and probably by the wide variety of people he allows himself to be associated with.”

Despite his excellence in science, Matthew’s greatest interest lies in movies. For a living, he wants to be either a film director or a scriptwriter. Matthew’s goal is to get admitted to one of the three colleges in Los Angeles – the University of Southern California, Biola University and Loyola Marymount University – that can prepare him for a career in the movies.

Gail Dilka, former educational specialist at Forest Charter, is not surprised by Matthew’s unconventional career choice.

“I believe all good scientists are curious and creative, and Matthew has those qualities,” she said. “He would like to use his love of literature and his creative abilities for the medium of movies. I just see it as a good fit.”

Among film directors, Matthew admires Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. His favorite actors are Robin Williams, Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise, and his favorite screenplay is that of “The Last Samurai.”

“A typical 9-to-5 job doesn’t appeal to me,” Matthew said. “I want a job where I can choose where and when I want to work, where you are not stuck in the rat-race, where you have the freedom to choose where you want your path to lead.”

Though Hollywood may be a distant dream right now, on the home front, Matthew has won quite a few hearts with his scholastic excellence.

“I’m very proud of him,” said Nancy Markson, science teacher at Forest Charter School. “I was with him at the California State Fair in Southern California this past May, and it was very exciting to see one of my students being able to compete at that level, and then to win second place in his category was so incredibly exciting. I was so proud of him for being able to achieve such a high level of academic success and to be recognized for it.”

The accolades and parental support have certainly boosted Matthew’s self-confidence.

“I feel I am a pretty well-rounded person,” he said. “I don’t have any weaknesses in any particular (academic) area.”

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To contact Staff Writer Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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