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5/27/2013 6:00:00 AM
Kingman whiz kid Hirz, 15, has a grand plan
Shaughn Hirz and his mom, Tracie Hirz, are thrilled that the 15-year-old scholar will be graduating second in his class with Arizona Virtual Academy.KIM STEELE/Miner
Shaughn Hirz and his mom, Tracie Hirz, are thrilled that the 15-year-old scholar will be graduating second in his class with Arizona Virtual Academy.

Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - When Shaughn Hirz graduates Tuesday from Arizona Virtual Academy, he'll walk away with a 4.25 grade point average and the title of salutatorian with the statewide online school.

He'll also be 15 years old.

Hirz, who has been studying online since fifth grade, will be attending Mohave Community College this fall, where he wants to major in aerospace engineering. Hirz plans to join the Reserve Officers' Training Corps after two years of college and follow a career path in the U.S. Air Force, designing aircraft and spacecraft.

"I feel great about my graduation rank," said Hirz. "It's wonderful to see all my hard work finally pay off. Graduating now will give me more time to explore careers without being on my own and making mistakes. And I think that working online made me see what education is about and got me focused. I'm excited about my career."

Hirz joined Kingman Learning Center four months ago to get a taste of interacting with other students before he goes to college. He has been taking online college-level classes in calculus, physics, computer programming, image design, economics and English. Hirz typically studies five hours each weekday, eight hours on Saturday and another three hours on Sunday.

Tracie Hirz, the boy's mother and a teacher at Kingman Learning Center, said she is relieved to see her son graduate after years of struggle. Tracie said Shaughn attended school before the family moved to Kingman in 2007, but was too advanced, multiplying and dividing by the time he was four years old.

The situation remained the same here, she said, because there was no gifted and talented program in the Kingman Unified School District.

Tracie said she took Shaughn out of school in fifth grade and enrolled him in Arizona Virtual Academy, where he was finally challenged, especially in math. Tracie said Shaughn also is a classical pianist, playing since he was four years old, and will be performing at his graduation in Phoenix.

He's also a gymnast and coach at All Starz Academy Gymnastics and Dance in Kingman. Shaughn made the Arizona All Star Team at the regional competition in April at Reno, but decided to coach instead of competing.

"I'm excited he's graduating because he's only 15 years old," said Tracie. "I think he deserves it because he's worked so hard. I have no regrets about his education. Not too many kids can say they're 15 and are graduating with 14 college credits.

"I think he's ready for college and I'm hoping that when he gets there, he will be treated as an equal."

Heather Appleby, principal of Kingman Learning Center, said Shaughn is graduating second out of 122 Arizona Virtual Academy seniors statewide, with the valedictorian being a 16 year old from Phoenix. Appleby said it's not typical for the center to have an early graduate, but she isn't surprised by Shaughn's accomplishment because he has been able to work more quickly online.

Appleby said students like Shaughn are not held back by limited classroom educations.

"Shaughn has excelled in online learning," she said. "He's very intelligent and highly motivated. He's also very quiet, which means he might not be noticed in a regular classroom.

"He's made us very proud here."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Article comment by: Nicole Wolfe

Good job shaughn! I knew you would always succeed. Congrats cuz. Ur awsome keep up the good work. :D <3

Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

I have to second what Allan Gleason said. I wouldn't try to dissuade someone from joining the military, esp as an officer, but thats not the place for someone who wants to be a design engineer. To even be involved in projects like that as a Program Manager or observer will take years and years of service.

Joining ROTC and having them help pay your way (along with scholarships which I'm sure will be offered to you) and then serving for 6 yrs or so will allow you time to mature and experience life a bit. It will also be an plus when you join the job market and allow you to take advantage of all the benefit programs offered to Vets. As was can be a very rigid environment and is not suitable for all.

Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Article comment by: heres the key

You want your child to excell and advance faster then their peers.

Online/homeschool. Truth is public school systems have reach an assembly line process. No child gets near the attention they need.

If at all possible. Take your kids out of the public school system as fast as you can. You'll increase thier probability of success 100 times over.

Posted: Monday, May 27, 2013
Article comment by: Allan Gleason

Wow! you're pretty impressive, Shaughn! I love music but found I have no talent for the piano, clarinet or even the guitar!

Let me say that I wish computers and online learning had been available to me as a student. My mother was a teacher too... thus we moved about the country every two to three years (schools avoided giving tenure like the plague)... although a nomadic life is also educational!

I enlisted in the USAF during the Korean ‘peace action’ but found that military life may have ‘made a man of me’ but was far too subjugating! After four military years, I became a civilian again, studied general engineering on the GI Bill and luckily was hired by Lockheed's (now, Lockheed Martin) R&D labs. I spent the next 35 years there amidst exotic toys electron microscopes, etc. which the company provided for my enjoyment!

If one is interested in aerospace design and development one should work for a private company who performs that kind of work... not the military, simply because they don't... The Government decides what it wants and hires companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, etc. to design, test and build their gadgets. After all, the government is the customer... it seldom if ever makes anything itself.

Posted: Monday, May 27, 2013
Article comment by: Cliff Foster

Stay positive, Shaughn. Congratulations and God bless!

Posted: Monday, May 27, 2013
Article comment by: Kellie McCoy

You rocked the Speech on Friday's Celebration night. Great Job Hirz Family!

Posted: Monday, May 27, 2013
Article comment by: Kathy Vickery

Congratulations Shaughn , A job well done...God Bless you in whatever you attempt to do in life.

Posted: Monday, May 27, 2013
Article comment by: AZVA Student Parent

Not all virtual school students are troublemakers. Many are highly intelligent and need an alternative to 'brick & mortar' schools.

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