May 26, 2017 


Entering high school younger and
smaller than one’s peers can present a significant hardship for any incoming
freshman. Entering high school at age 13 can be downright scary and intimidating.


This is how Zacharie Andre Zirnheld
began his journey at Shortridge International Baccalaureate High School.Zach


“Everyone judged me based on my
stature and younger age, judging me to be immature or incapable. Over time,
however, I was gradually able to dispel most of these preconceptions. That
said, I was always able to make sure that they knew that I was definitely not
less intelligent than they were,” said Zach.


Determined to not let his size or
age be a hindrance, Zach dedicated himself to his studies.  Today, he carries the honor of being valedictorian
for Shortridge High School and will graduate with a 4.4 GPA.


Zach credits a number of people
for his academic success, including his mom, who always encouraged him to work
hard in school and instilled in him a good work ethic. He also credits history
teacher David Todd, physics teacher Francisco Colón, and Spanish teacher and
advisor Brenna Macias for cultivating his educational interests.


Although he entered high school
at a young age, holding the honor of valedictorian has strengthened his sense
of responsibility. Zach says it’s a must to help students struggling
academically. “I should help anyone who is struggling in school, and push them
to succeed.”


He shares this same sense of responsibly
toward his family. “I feel a sense of duty to study harder than my parents and
live up to their expectations.”


While he’s sure of the college
he’s attending this fall (Purdue University, where he has a full scholarship)
and his major (mathematics and computer science), the self-described “game
master” hasn’t quite decided what he wants to be when he graduates from college.


“I’ll either go on to a career in
some sort of programming field (ideally also involving game design), or I’ll go
on to further postsecondary education in some sort of mathematical field.”


No matter what he decides, the
sky’s the limit for Zacharie.