Going the distance

Sixth grader achieves all goals she sets

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Katelyn Schwartz, 12, a sixth grader at Lenihan Intermediate School, enjoys being enrolled in the school’s XLP (Extended Learning Program), where she can work on advanced coursework and projects (pictured). When she grows up, she wants to be either a paleontologist or a biochemical engineer.

Katelyn Schwartz, 12, a sixth grader at Lenihan Intermediate School, is the type of student who comes to school eager to enrich her mind.

“I like everything about school,” Katelyn said. “I’ve really met all my goals.”

Her favorite aspect of academics is being enrolled in the school’s XLP (Extended Learning Program).

“Katelyn is a student who consistently goes above and beyond in every activity she takes on,” said XLP instructor Vanessa Engel. “She makes time out of her busy schedule to work on various extended learning activities, including Lego League, National History Day and Science Fair Prep. She does really well with balancing out her work, and she made a point of trying new activities this year.”

The sixth grader said she is most drawn to XLP because “I just like the variety of things we do.”

Having an interest in math and science, Katelyn was recently accepted into the district-wide program Girls Who Code, which seeks to close the gender gap in technology-based industries.

“Katelyn has a zest for learning. She always participates in class and has great ideas to share,” said instructor Carrie Bohan.

In her spare time, Katelyn can be found crocheting and playing with her pets — four hermit crabs. An avid reader, she favors non-fiction books.

“I read pretty much anything science or animal-related,” she said.

The sixth grader participates in orchestra, having taken up the bass around four months ago. She previously played the cello.

When she grows up, she would like to be either a paleontologist or a biochemical engineer.

“I want to be a paleontologist because I’m really interested in dinosaurs and fossils,” she said. “I want to go out and dig and chip at stuff and identify it.”

Her interest in biochemical engineering is a newer endeavor.

“I was researching it and looking at jobs on Science Prep, and it looked interesting and fun to make stuff,” she said.

Engel said her biggest job in assisting Katelyn with her studies is encouraging her to continue to push herself.

“She has exhibited huge amounts of growth of confidence over the past year and a half I have worked with her, and I am exceedingly proud of her,” Engel said.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com