St. Paul, MINN - The applause erupted the minute Do-Hyoung Park entered the room.
A bit embarrassed, Do, whose name is pronounced dough, like the cookie batter, dipped his head but could not hold back his smile. A portion of the St. Paul Central orchestra was assembled to rehearse a piece for the spring concert that features a violin solo by Do. But, the applause was for Do's cumulative effort that has made him an Academic All-Star.
"I always try to do the best I can", says Do. "No matter what the circumstances are."
Do's can-do attitude helps explain how this virtuoso is about to graduate.. with honors.. at the age of 15.
"I don't really see myself as an over-achiever or like a genius in any way, like people make it out to be", says Do. "I just consider myself a fast learner."
You have to be a fast-learner when you're given the opportunity to jump from 6th to 9th grade, and go to high school at age 11. But, Do will admit the first few days were a little rough.
Says Do, "I was just kind of walking around for the first few days going, don't eat me! Don't eat me!"
But, once Do's peers got over the age gap, he found the students at Central to be more than inclusive.
Says Do, "After I started being myself they accepted me and I felt more comfortable around them and once I could start being myself I made my little niche in the community."
Do's niche includes a 4-point-plus GPA, and involvement in the school's math team, quiz bowl, science Olympiad, and state champion science bowl team. It's a resume' that has gained Do a trip to college before he is eligible to drive a car.
"I think I can take care of myself", says Do. "Maybe that might change when I figure out oh, I don't know how to cook or, Oh, I don't know how to do laundry. But, I think those are things that you pick-up on the way, and I think it's part of the process of becoming an adult that I need to take."
Along the way to becoming an Academic All-Star, Do scored a perfect 36 on his ACT test.
But, Do says, he's not sure his star would have risen so quickly or shined as brightly at any other school
"That complete experience at Central, with the friends, the extracurriculars and the academics", says Do. "I don't think I would have found that anywhere else."
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )