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Wednesday, October 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Education

Ferris High School senior has turned his ADHD into academic advantage

Those high school stereotypes are easy to apply and so hard to defy – unless you’re Jacob Erdman, who definitely isn’t your everyday nerd.

Yes, the Ferris senior scored a 1500 out of 1520 on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, but he also considered a career as a guitarist.

Erdman will probably major in computer science in college and plays games online with friends, and he also lies awake late at night with his cell phone, surfing for knowledge.

One topic led to another, and suddenly, he’d have 20 different Wikipedia entries on his phone.

Now that’s nerdy, some would say, but they’d be wrong.

For Erdman, it’s called natural curiosity, a trait that others might want to emulate instead of resorting to labels.

Not that Erdman cares – pursuit of knowledge is a reward in itself. Along the way, he transformed his ADHD from a curse to a blessing.

In the fourth grade at Hamblen Elementary School, teachers noticed that Erdman couldn’t stop the nervous habit of tipping in his chair.

The cause: boredom, because Erdman never tipped his chair when he took gifted-learning classes in the Tessera program at the Libby Center.

“With ADHD it’s so hard to focus, and it’s more difficult to focus on what I’m not interested in,” Erdman said. “I’ve been medicated ever since.”

Natural intelligence has its perks.

At Ferris, he’s earned “not quite straight-A’s” while taking a heavy dose of Advanced Placement classes. No matter the subject, his goal is “the fastest way to get it done while still getting an A.”

Erdman took Advanced Placement Chemistry without taking general chem, but found that “all the review was new learning, so it moved at a pace that worked better for me. I got a 5 on the AP exam, so I guess that worked out for me,” Erdman said.

The PSAT worked out even better. His 1500 score made him a National Merit Semifinalist, one of only four in the Spokane area.

The others are Jakob Nordhagen of Gonzaga Prep, Dylan Schuler of Mead and Sabrina Sladich from Lewis and Clark.

“I was surprised,” Erdman said. “I didn’t expect that, because I really didn’t prepare for it.”

Erdman still hopes for a perfect SAT score.

In the meantime, he’s taking English, science, two band periods “and a bunch of stuff online.”

Erdman also has a talent for music. He plays trumpet in the Ferris wind ensemble, but his passion is guitar.

“If I’m not playing it, I’m listening,” Erdman said. “I was considering being a professional musician as a guitar player, but I knew it wasn’t realistic.”

So he is focused on his academic favorite – computer science.

“My brain is made for it,” said Erdman, who is considering studying at the University of Washington but will probably stay closer to home because the Eastern Washington computer science program “is really good.”

In the meantime, he wants to continue the pursuit of knowledge, in every field.

“I just want to understand how the world works,” Erdman said.

Nothing nerdy about that.

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