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Renaissance kid
11-year-old high school student strives for excellence
pitman high kid
Kohl James started this school year as a full-time Pitman High freshman — at 11 years old. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

Pitman High School Principal Rod Hollars has worked in education for decades and has never seen a child so young and gifted as Kohl James.

When the school year began, James was 11 years old, and he was a full-time freshman. Hollars said that while it is not entirely unheard of to have an 11 or 12 year old in one class, like algebra for example, it is extremely rare for an 11-year-old to be a full-time student.

Kohl’s mother, Nicole explained that he is what is known as “globally gifted.” In other words, he is a Renaissance kid.

“We have had him tested for his IQ and he is very gifted, but ultimately your intelligence is only as good as how hard you are willing to work, so we want his intellect to be challenged,” she said.

In elementary school Kohl skipped numerous grades and then he attended Dutcher Middle School in Turlock. His counselor at Pitman, Kristie Frank, said that Kohl didn’t have to test in to get into high school, he just simply graduated eighth grade and took the needed prep classes for admission.

With the school year coming to a close Kohl’s freshman year has been a success, he is currently enrolled in Art, PE, Drama, German, Honors English and Algebra 1 and he has earned As and Bs in his courses.

Kohl is also active in the Game Club and the swimming club team.

“Teachers have told me that he’s acclimated fairly well and he has friends. During Halloween we have a costume contest and Kohl went up there (on stage) and just said ‘Hi, I’m Kohl and I’m 11’ for his costume. I was impressed by that because he has a good sense of humor about it,” said Frank.

Kohl’s mother said that with his level of intelligence he is very aware that he is different from the older kids at school.

“I get along with a lot of them, I have a couple of good friends, but socially it can be hard to fit in a little bit,” said Kohl.

“The teachers and other students are very supportive of him. He doesn’t get picked on or anything, I think the kids know he is younger and they just kind of respect him for that,” said Frank.

Kohl is scheduled to graduate in 2014, at 15 years old.

In his free time, he enjoys cooking and is interested in marine biology. He likes to read non-fiction because he says he “wants more information.” Kohl says he wants to become a chef.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.