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Schools

King student sports amazing GPA

By EMILY NIPPS
Published June 1, 2007


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People told Rumela Das to slow down.

Her parents, her teachers, her advisers at school - they all strongly suggested that perhaps she should take a break. Free up a weekend or two. Have fun during her high school years.

But Das felt she could handle it all: cheerleading, the school newspaper, an academic schedule that would make most college students cringe. And apparently, she was right.

This year, Das, 17, graduated from King High School's International Baccalaureate program with a mind-boggling 8.08 weighted grade point average, more than double the perfect unweighted 4.0 and the highest in Hillsborough County this year .

It is tied for third-highest ever, said district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe, but the highest GPAs seem to grow steadily over time.

Das, who lives in Ashington Estates with her parents and younger sister, thinks she could have done even better had she known about all of the Advanced Placement and Internet class options available to her when she entered the IB program in the ninth grade.

"People know more about it now, so they're taking more classes and getting higher GPAs, " Das said. "I'm scared for my sister, because it's going to get so competitive." Her sixth-grader sister, Ratchida, already has designs on beating 8.08.

It's hard to imagine an environment more competitive than Das had growing up. As a seventh-grader, she took a college algebra class at the University of South Florida, where students offered to give her cookies if she came to their study groups.

At King, she grew up with a class that produced 21 National Merit Finalists this year. The King salutatorian, Emmanuel Berchmans, wasn't too far behind Das with a 7.95 GPA (the county's second highest).

"This group (of King IB seniors) was pretty extreme, " said Susan Johnson, assistant principal of King's magnet program.

"They took online classes, summer courses ... it was crazy. There were times I thought, 'Oh my gosh, guys, what are you doing to yourselves?' "

Das, Johnson said, seemed to push herself the hardest. But she always seemed to juggle her coursework and labs and summer classes just fine, so who was Johnson to argue?

Das insists she's like any other normal teenager. She goes to movies and parties and sleepovers, and she even made time for four years of cheerleading, which took its biggest toll when games took place on weekends. Das was the only IB student on the squad.

"I'm really glad I did that, " Das said. "It exposed me to a whole other group of people, since all the IB students tend to all hang out with each other."

There were times that her father, Tapas, an engineering professor at USF, and mother, Rima, a pharmacist, worried that their daughter wasn't getting enough rest or breaks from a schedule that included three or four hours of studying each night and Saturday classes. At least give up cheerleading, they suggested.

Das couldn't. It wasn't in her nature to give up. In fact, she plans to continue cheerleading at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology next year.

She has no regrets about her heavy load for the past four years and looks forward to continuing the pace at college ... where no one can slow her down.

Not that anyone will try.

"I'm so glad, " Tapas Das said, "she didn't listen to us."

Emily Nipps can be reached at (813) 269-5313 or nipps@sptimes.com.

Inside

A list of graduates from King and other high schools, 8-10

[Last modified June 1, 2007, 06:51:31]


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