Date: February 27th, 2007 7:32 PM
Author: matthew (first among the Gospels)
Only nine more years until he goes to Cornell
Blaize Kandler is the only Lakeville School District elementary student with a perfect score on the 2006 MCA-II tests.
By Emily Johns, Star Tribune
With Blaize Kandler, everything revolves around birds.
The short, precocious fourth-grader wears a hockey jersey 'cause it has a bird on it. He keeps his own bird museum -- which he calls Birdsville -- in the basement of his family's Lakeville home. And his favorite book?
"I would request that you would mention '101 Ways to Help Birds' by Laura Erickson in the article," he says while sitting at his kitchen table for an interview.
While Blaize's bird knowledge is certainly impressive, it's not what has been drawing him the most attention lately. Blaize is the only elementary student in Lakeville to get a perfect score on both parts of the state-mandated MCA-II tests last year. MCA stands for Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment.
"I think I had to guess on some," says Blaize, 10, who took the tests as a third-grader at Eastview Elementary, "And I think there's one answer that I wanted to change, but my teacher wouldn't let me because we were onto a different part of the test." There were 171 students statewide who received perfect scores on both tests.
When the test results came out in November, Eastview Principal Dick Oscarson sent the Kandlers a congratulatory letter that Blaize's parents, Dave and Dorey Kandler, have framed.
"It is more impressive to note that the state of Minnesota increased the rigor of the MCA tests last year," Oscarson wrote. "In other words, the [tests] given last spring are more difficult than the previous tests." The reading and math tests are given to students in grades 3-8, 10 and 11.
Blaize says he gets "better than pretty good" grades, and he takes the advanced math class for fourth-graders. His favorite thing to do is read -- but he seems to only read about birds. They have been his favorite subject since first grade, though he doesn't remember how he came to be so fascinated.
"I spend nearly all of my free time reading," he says. "I like basketball, but sometimes it gets in the way of homework and reading. ... I don't like video games. I don't like them at all, because they're boring, dull things."
He already knows where he wants to go to college: Cornell University. He doesn't know where it is (it's in Ithaca, N.Y., Blaize), but he knows it's the home of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
And he already has an idea what he wants to be when he grows up.
"An ornithologist," he says confidently, before reconsidering. "It would also be cool to be a professional basketball player, to have a lot of money to donate to conservation organizations. ... But it's extremely doubtful that I'll make it to professional basketball."