BND Student Of The Week: East St. Louis senior reaching for the stars
George A. Baker III admits he’s not like the other kids at school, but says he’s not unlike them either. His ease with different groups of people is one aspect of his personality that made administrators at East St. Louis District 189 think he’d be a great candidate for the student advisory council of the Illinois State Board of Education.
“The principal came looking for me,” George said, and asked him to talk to the district’s public information officer about writing essays to apply for the board.
A few days later, George got a passing “Hey, you’re about to be interviewed — good luck” from administrators. He said he wasn’t completely sure of what he was getting into, but the idea of adding a student voice to state matters intrigued him.
The 17-member student advisory board decided to study how student opinions could be used in teacher evaluations.
“How can we make student voices more credible?” he said.
George’s role is to see what other state programs do. His research group, along with other groups comprised of members of the advisory council are studying the issue and will present their findings in January.
The most frustrating thing to him about the student advisory council is not being able to meet that often in the large group.
“We have this huge research group, but we have to do it in small groups,” George said.
The student advisory council meets about once a month during the school year, most recently on Oct. 23.
Government work isn’t in George’s future, he said. He has long dreamed and worked toward a career as an aerospace engineer.
I’m totally working in outer space, it has to happen.
George A. Baker III
“I’m totally working in outer space, it has to happen,” he said.
George’s favorite subject is math. He is taking two advanced placement math courses, one English and one science.
“Me and letters don’t really get along, unless they’re in math problems,” he said.
However, the teenager does read when it’s a good book that he can get into.
“I started with ‘Dairy of a Wimpy Kid,’” he said, moving on to the Percy Jackson series and Harry Potter.
George has a wizard’s wand, says he should belong to Gryffindor House, and is considering the University of Chicago, which he is quick to point out, has a Quidditch team.
Q. Where have you worked?
A. “The Shrine Restaurant, Six Flags and Eckert’s.” George has been a ride operator for Six Flags, typically in Looney Tunes area, and at Eckert’s. But stocking butter, that gets him drooling. “There are so many types of butter (at Eckert’s), and they’re all amazing.”
Q. What did you want to be before?
A. “In sixth grade, I wanted to be a lawyer. We put the three pigs (from The Three Little Pigs story) on trial. I was the prosecuting attorney, and I basically accused everyone.”
Q. What have you learned by attending different schools?
A. “I’ve been exposed to a lot of different students and teachers,” said George, who started ninth grade at Belleville East but then moved from the area and began attending Althoff Catholic High in Belleville. He’s been at East St. Louis High since February.
Q. How much homework do you have each night?
A. “This is tricky. Sometimes I get it done in class. Average — if I do all my homework at home — three hours. I have to have it done by 5 p.m. (to go to work).”
Q. Why take advanced placement psychology?
A. “I’m really interested in humans and how did people like Albert Einstein and Leonardo DiVinci come along.”
Meet George Baker III
- Age: 17
- School: Senior at East St. Louis High School
- ACT score: 20
- Family: Parents George Baker Jr. and Aisha Baker; older brother Omari Holt, and sisters Keva Holt and J’Era Baker
- Colleges under consideration: St. Louis University (his brother attends law school there) and the University of Chicago
- Favorite pastimes: Socializing. “When I get bored, I call one of my jobs,” he said.
- Favorite food: Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken or lasagna made by his mom or grandma
- Favorite restaurants: Pizza from Papa Murphy’s or TGI Fridays — His parents used to reward him and his siblings with dinners there.