Eighth grade, Neil Maitra, Edison Computech Middle

The Fresno BeeMay 30, 2014 


Neil Maitra is an eighth grader at Edison Computech in Fresno.


Neil Maitra's father, Santanu, said an affinity for science runs in the family: seven of Neil's relatives are chemists, including both his parents.

It's no wonder, then, that Neil has that same type of scientific curiosity: the eighth-grader is a national Science Bowl award winner, an accomplished First Lego League competitor and was a national finalist for a video competition where he dressed up in a white wig to star as Sir Isaac Newton, one of his heroes.

"Science makes me learn a lot about the world and I like to know things," Neil said.

RELATED: Full list of Academic All-Star nominees; download a certificate

Maitra said there are days when he can imagine his son in a career as an artist — other days, as an astrophysicist. When he was in elementary school, Neil would spend hours drawing imaginary airplanes with "perfect geometry," said Maitra. As he's grown older, Neil has taken an interest in computer-aided design and engineering.

"I think we should just let him blossom and see where he goes," Maitra said.

Marty Dunlap, Neil's technical drawing and design teacher, said he's always ahead in class and has an "innate talent" for design.

"From my perspective, he just loves it," she said. "There are kids who love their video games. For him, it's designing, creating, problem-solving, engineering."


Age: 13

School: Edison Computech Middle

Home: Clovis

Parents: Santanu and Kalyani Maitra


Kaleb Roth, 14, Madera

School: Ranchos Middle School

Parents: Karl and Shellie Roth

Achievements: Kaleb is known for his giving spirit: the 4.0-GPA student has traveled as far as Mexico and Guatemala on mission trips to help build and repair churches, teach Bible school and start a soccer club for youngsters. He's also involved in school, where he currently serves as the student body president. He's a member of the Destination Imagination and Academic Pentathlon teams and stays active on both the football and basketball teams.

Julia Leann Galvan, 14, Tulare

School: Live Oak Middle School

Parents: Nick and Stacy Galvan

Achievements: Julia has a 4.5 GPA: not bad for a student who's constantly volunteering at her church, playing in the school band and starring in local theater productions. Julia's math teacher Don Pedersen said she's mature for an eighth-grader and gets along with students and adults alike. "She's an extremely high achiever and she gets an A+ anytime we do anything," he said.

Kevin Gaxiola, 13, Fresno

School: Tehipite Middle School

Parents: Juan Navarro and Flora Gaxiola

Achievements: When Kevin attends Roosevelt High next year, he'll already have about 30 high school credits under his belt. The 3.8-GPA eighth-grader has already completed several high school-level courses, including algebra, geometry and Spanish. Kevin plays football, soccer and volleyball, tutors and assists the elderly.

2014 Academic All-Stars

First grade, Gianna Manfredo, Quail Lake Environmental Charter

Second grade, Juliette Ann Vazquez, Fort Washington Elementary

Third grade, Kyle Derksen, Maple Creek Elementary

Fourth grade, Lanie Murrieta, Fremont Elementary-Fowler

Fifth grade, Nevyn Albert Santillan, Fremont Elementary-Fowler

Sixth grade, Victoria Sanchez, Eric White Elementary

Seventh grade, Trevor Amarante, John Sutter Middle

Eighth grade, Neil Maitra, Edison Computech Middle

Ninth grade, Emma Marie Boone, Clovis West High

10th grade, Onkar Sandhu, Clovis North High

11th grade, Madison Meredith, Monache High

12th grade, Henry Lee, Clovis West High

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