When he had a test, a Greenwood student got to school at 6:45 a.m. to get extra help.
And when a paper was due, Micah Carlson fought the urge to procrastinate and got it done days early.
This week, Carlson will graduate as valedictorian of his class at Greenwood Community High School. Earning that top spot was not something he had expected, he said, especially after he learned he was ranked No. 3 in his class during his freshman year.
“I thought, ‘OK, I didn’t know I was that smart,'” he said.
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But the ranking also challenged him. If he worked just a little harder, maybe he could become the valedictorian, he thought.
So, he and his friend, salutatorian Andrew Toms, agreed that they would go for the top two spots together.
Carlson said he was fine with placing in either of the top two spots.
“As long as we were first and second, we would be fine with either,” he said.
Carlson moved to Greenwood when he was in fourth grade. Previously, his family served as missionaries in Uruguay, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico, where he attended private schools.
He was good at school but needed help and hard work, too, he said.
He went to school early to get math and chemistry help from teachers and made sure to do English papers in advance so stress and procrastination didn’t stop him from doing his best, he said.
“I honestly don’t think I am that smart,” Carlson said. “I worked harder than some people, and that shows in my grades, I think.”
In physics class, a car Carlson and his class partner built that was designed to double as a mouse trap fell over before their demonstration even began. Their car was the only one that tipped during the first demonstration, he said.
“We were looking on the bright side; we went down in the history books,” Carlson said. “We were totally cool with that. It was one of our worst physics projects.”
He also worked part time, which sometimes was a struggle to balance with schoolwork. He spent most of his time studying, attending class and working. That left little time for his favorite hobby, playing video games.
“There was a time, where every single day I felt like I had a paper due,” Carlson said.
He excelled at science and started a science team at school.
As a project for the club he tried to break down and study the structure of proteins. Some family members are gluten, egg and dairy intolerant, and how the intolerance happened fascinated him, he said.
“I was really nerdy. I liked math and science stuff,” Carlson said.
Carlson job-shadowed a chemist at Eli Lilly and Co., and he said the experience pushed him to explore that career path. His love of science will take him to Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in the fall, where he will study chemistry, with hopes of becoming a chemical engineer.
Name: Micah Carlson
Parents: Greg and Shirley Carlson
College: Rose Hulman Institute of Technology
Major: Chemistry and chemical engineering