In sports vernacular, one could argue that Maurice Duerson is a potential first round draft pick in the making. His stats are off the charts. The burgeoning sixth grader at Frances W. Parker, Indianapolis Public Schools # 56, a Montessori School. In the early 1940s, Francis W. Parker was considered the “Colored School” for African-American students in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood.
From the very first glance, it’s clear that this young man bears the potential to be a foundational piece for any team looking to rise in the standings.
But we’re not really talking sports, though he’s got some football skills. No, we’re talking something better. You see, if Maurice maintains his current trajectory he may not be on the field, but he will be calling the shots.
The oldest of three brothers, Maurice, 12, has been enrolled in year-round Edna Martin Christian Center Out of School Learning Activities since 2013. In that time, Maurice has flourished academically, showing real growth in his grades, Montessori evaluations and standardized testing results. In terms of attendance, Maurice seldom misses school--mom ain’t having it anyway!
Maurice poses no risk for suspension or expulsion. His worst offense is sometimes knowing he’s the smartest guy in the room. You will find him face-planted in a book or graphic novel every day--today’s book was The Hunger Games. In fact, if you overlook the occasional smart aleck antics that come with a 12-year-old that is seldom challenged, he’s the model of a young man bound for leadership.
Maurice’s mom has been looking a school that would challenge him more. It compelled her to choose a non-traditional model within the traditional public schools system, and it’s the reason she is choosing a different option now.
Despite his consistent honor roll status and exceptional scholastic performance at his previous school, mom chose to transfer Maurice to the Sidener Academy for High Ability Students. Sidener Academy, also in the Indianapolis Public Schools District, is one of the state’s highest performing schools.
In 2015, despite a state standardized test fraught with irregularities, 99.5 percent of the school’s students passed, down from 100 percent in 2014.
The national Blue Ribbon School is the envy of many traditional public, charter and private schools in the city, and draws from all corners of Marion County. Entry is not assured simply by application. Among other requirements, Sidener students are required to take aptitude assessments to ensure they are prepared to meet the rigors of a fast paced, diverse environment.
What is awaiting Maurice is different. In keeping with the sports analogies, what comes now is the fiercest competition he’s faced. It may humble him, may also confirm the genius he fully already believes himself to be.
In either event, it’s game on.