Tompkinsville — Having a goal is probably the most important part of achieving success, said Harrison Froedge, a sophomore at Monroe County High School.
“Because then you can be like, ‘OK, am I meeting that benchmark? Am I up to par with what I’ll have to be, to be where I want to be?’”
Froedge was accepted into The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, which is located on Western Kentucky University’s main campus.
While Froedge, 16, is the first male student from MCHS to attend Gatton Academy, three others have attended and graduated before him: Ashley Coley, Shelby Stephens and Froedge’s sister, Lori.
Froedge said his sister greatly influenced him.
“I don’t know if I would have known about The Gatton Academy if it wasn’t for my sister,” he said. “I pretty much started preparing for Gatton in middle school, and those extra few years to get ready were super, super valuable.”
Froedge said he attributes his intelligence to his love for reading.
“My mom got me started reading really early on,” he said. “It started out with fiction books. I really like history, so then I started getting into non-fiction history books and I watched a lot of History Channel before it was a reality TV venue.”
Froedge’s mother, Sharon, who is a French and Spanish teacher at MCHS, said her son has been moving at his own pace since he was 2 years old.
“I think if you ignite that desire to learn and teach a child to read when they’re young, they can achieve anything,” she said. “Because if they want to know something, they can go find it and they can access that information because they can read.
“Reading is so key. If a kid wants to read magazines, let ’em read a magazine. Just let ’em read. If they want to read Internet stuff, it’s OK, as long as they’re reading.”
Froedge said he has grown accustomed to researching topics on the Internet.
“The Internet’s massive,” he said. “There’s so much stuff there, so much free education that is just sitting there for you.
“If you know how to look something up, that’s probably one of your best starting points. If you have a question, don’t be afraid to look it up.
“Say one day I’m just sitting there and I’m like, ‘You know, I don’t know a lot about the Netherlands. I want to learn more.’
“So I just type in ‘Netherlands’ and click on the Wikipedia page and just read and click on the links to battles and historical figures.
“Or say I wanna’ know how a hard drive works … I’ll just type in ‘How does a hard drive work.’
“All that stuff isn’t structured, but when you’re constantly looking stuff up and just building information, points start getting connected and you start understanding how all this stuff got invented.”
Reading is super important, but then there’s math, Froedge said.
“Math is important,” he said. “Like the most important subject in school in my opinion.”
Froedge said math is “the language that stitches everything together.”
“Music is built on math; engineering, programming, built on math,” he said. “You use it for so much stuff and it’s so important that you’re really good at math.
“One of the biggest reasons I want to go to the academy is to strengthen those math skills. So I want to make sure that I take full advantage of this opportunity.
“I want to take as many math classes as I can while I’m there.”
In order to get ahead in his math curriculum, Froedge is going to take trigonometry this summer so he can “jump into the higher level stuff.”
Principal Max Petett said Froedge is an “unbelievably motivated kid.”
“He’s very much an independent learner, independent thinker,” Petett said. “He works so hard every single day.
“He’s an inspiration to all of us. It’s exciting to have that caliber of kid walking through our hallways.”
Having support from his family, his teachers, his school and school system has been an integral piece to his success, said Froedge.
Froedge said he is looking forward to being classmates with “others kids who are all really enthusiastic about learning stuff and building stuff.”
“I’m really excited about what kind of projects I can work on with these people and what kind of things I can build.
“Yeah, I’m excited.
“It’s gonna’ be a lot of fun.”