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The perfect word to describe Kallen Robertson: juggler. As in his ability to excel in multiple tasks at once.
Want proof? Check out the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley senior’s list of activities/accomplishments:
- Highest grade-point average in his senior class of 69, which puts him in line to be valedictorian. His weighted GPA is 4.2 out of 4.0.
- Taking dual-credit courses at Parkland College. Five so far during high school.
- Played outside linebacker for the Falcons football team in the fall.
- Member of the school’s marching, jazz, concert and pep bands. Plays the trumpet and is trumpet section leader.
- Part of concert choir and chamber choir, where he sings bass and is bass section leader.
- Plays piano and guitar.
- Class secretary.
- Scholastic Bowl captain.
- Running track in the spring (middle distances). Also ran as a junior.
- Participates in Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
- Volunteers for Make-A-Wish and Habitat for Humanity.
- Summer job at the Gibson City pool, where he was concession-stand manager.
- Part of the Interact Club at GCMS.
- Oh, yeah, he juggles, too. Self-taught after getting a juggling set one Christmas. “I figured it out on my own.”
The trickiest part of writing this column was finding a break in Kallen’s hectic schedule for an interview (we did it by phone) and lining up Robin Scholz’s photos. Thanks to the nice folks at Gibson City’s Moyer Library.
Supportive communityKallen’s classmates and teachers understand he has plenty going on.
Of course, he isn’t the only one at the school with a full plate.
But his combination of academics, music and sports is unique.
How does he keep his schedule straight? Well, there is no elaborate calendar. A good memory helps.
There is something every day. At all times.
Active childhoodKallen, 17, has always kept busy. To use the old saying: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
“He is very much like me,” mom Kathy said. “I like to be busy as well.”
Kathy is happy her son has varied interests.
“When I look at him, I see — it’s not putting all his eggs in one basket,” she said. “He has them spread throughout, which I think makes him a well-rounded individual.
“And he gets to interact with different types of kids and different organizations and different people.”
He mixes with all the students.
“I try to get along with everybody, be involved with everybody,” Kallen said.
Does he ever take time off to relax?
“Occasionally,” he said.
He enjoys playing and writing music. He plays chess. He works out.
COVID-19 put a dent in Kallen’s schedule. As a sophomore, he wasn’t able to go to any sporting events. His Scholastic Bowl season was online.
It is all back to normal now. Scholastic Bowl is in person. The pep band played at basketball games this year.
“Having no masks and no restrictions has made it a lot easier to go to school, easier on my mental health,” Kallen said.
Looking aheadKallen’s college decision is coming soon. He is down to two schools: the University of Missouri in Columbia and Iowa State University in Ames.
Kallen plans to study engineering.
He made a recent visit to Mizzou, where he auditioned for a spot in the jazz band.
“I’d like to keep performing music when I go to college,” Kallen said.
The Tigers are in the lead.
“That college tour was pretty convincing,” he said.
The financial side will play a part in the decision.
“It’s a big deal,” Kathy said. “The price for everybody nowadays is pretty high. But we’re grateful because Kallen qualifies for a lot of the merit scholarships.”
Kallen will make the choice. His family will visit, but he will be the one making the move.
Distance isn’t a major concern. It’s about a 4.5-hour drive from Gibson City to Columbia, Mo. Ames, Iowa, is another hour away.
Kallen has made deposits at both schools. His choice will likely be made in the coming month.
Down the road, after college, Kallen has a dream job in mind: working for NASA.
Wherever he winds up, Kallen’s family will be in his corner.
Besides Kathy and dad Bruce, Kallen has a 15-year-old sister, Kacely, a sophomore at GCMS. The two are close.
“I get along well with my sister,” Kallen said.
“They’re pretty good buddies,” Kathy said. “She is going to miss him as much as I am when he goes to school.”
Kallen’s grandmothers, Priscilla Agner and Terry Roberston, make it to many of his events.
Bruce, who lives in Wilmington, tries to attend as many of Kallen’s activities as possible.
“They have a good relationship,” Kathy said.
He is a proud papa.
“Kallen is one of God’s greatest gifts,” Bruce said. “Fun memories: Kallen learning how to solve the Rubik’s Cube at age 11 and learning to read at age 3.”
Kalen’s fastest time with the Rubik’s Cube was 36 seconds. Yes, he needs to help build spaceships.