by Maria Corse
“So, is there anything else you need from me?” is always my last question during a mentoring session, and, the one I asked Takoda today, as my finger hovered over the mouse to click the “meeting finished” tab. He responded in his usually laid back manner, “as a matter of fact, yes, I would like to take a class to learn pyrotechnics.” I think my mouth was hanging open for a few seconds before I replied, “What? Pyrotechnics, what is that?” The only part of the word I really heard was “pyro”, as in fire! Takoda calmly reminded me that it is the art of fireworks and explosives. After the initial shock wore off and I jokingly made sure he understood this would be something he could learn off-site … we began investigating resources.
Takoda is one of those students who is always surprising me. He is quiet and reserved by nature, however, frequently projects moments of pure comic genius. At one point last January, after he had been at Deep Root Center for only a couple of days, we all concluded that we needed to follow him around with a recording device to catch all of the witticisms that regularly tumbled off his tongue.
Takoda is rock steady, dependable, and incredibly patient – he arrives about the same time everyday, takes up residence on one of the chairs in the teen chill space, places earbuds in --- generally ignores the hub-bub around him and carries on with his countless independent studies, games, and compulsive reading. He has a wide variety of interests from the classics (Greek, Roman, and Japanese civilizations), any kind of history, to, well, pyrotechnics, and, he is not afraid to seek out the information he needs to learn more about any subject, or, to share his depths of knowledge with the other students.
Reading is one of Takoda's greatest passions and his appetite for books is unquenchable; he quite literally devours them. He can read a 700 page sci-fi - fantasy tome in a few hours, and, he comprehends every detail --- we know, because, in disbelief, we have quizzed him multiple times.
We are grateful for this gentle giant in our midst, who is amendable to almost anything asked of him, from reaching something on a high shelf, moving a piece of furniture, to taking part in a class. Although, I have been impressed, recently, with his ability to assert himself and say “no” when he feels that agreeing to a request does not match his personal aspirations. This is just one more hallmark of the new maturity that rests comfortably on Takoda's shoulders. He has decided to stay with us for another school year, instead of finishing High School early, and, I am honored to have the privilege of watching him grow and flourish towards the bright future that surely awaits --- whether it is a career in blowing things up, writing books, or continuing his studies of history and the classics.