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West // West Oahu Coverstory
Christina O’Connor

Mauka Lani Student Is Among ‘Talented Youth’

Veronica Cunitz at the CTY Talent Search recognition ceremony held at HPU in May. Photo from Wendy Marx-Cunitz.

Mauka Lani Elementary School student Veronica Cunitz joined about 35 other students at a statewide awards ceremony honoring those who performed well in testing administered by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY).

The ceremony, held at Hawaii Pacific University’s Windward campus, recognized students who had excelled on a rigorous, above-grade-level test for students in grades 2-8.

Cunitz, a 9-year-old who just completed fourth grade, has attended Mauka Lani since March 2011, when she and her family moved to the Islands from Illinois. Academic success seems to be a commonplace thing for Cunitz, who already does advanced work in language arts and mathematics.

“I’m so proud that she still performed so well, even though she was quite nervous,” noted her mother, Wendy Marx-Cunitz.

The CTY Talent Search requires students to take tests designed for older students as a way to measure their abilities.

“When we heard the news that she would be one of the students honored at the HPU ceremony, we were both incredibly happy!” Wendy said.

More than 40,000 students from 120 countries competed in this year’s CTY Talent Search – and only about 25 percent performed well enough to earn recognition.

Other than a mark of distinction, participating in the testing also helps students gain access into advanced classes or other programs. It already has helped Cunitz, as she is planning to take a Greek mythology class designed for CTY students this summer.

Not only does she excel in academics, she also serves as a Junior Police Officer and recently has shown a flair for community service.

A Junior Girl Scout with a Makakilo troop, Cunitz and a fellow scout led a food and supplies drive for the Oahu SPCA, raising $170 in cash, along with about $500 worth of food and other supplies.

Cunitz wants to become a scientist, but her mother said that her career goals are constantly changing.

“Today we face critical global problems that require the best minds of the future to solve using discipline, creativity, and innovation,” stated Elaine Tuttle Hansen, executive director of CTY.

“It’s inspiring and reassuring to see this group of some of the best and brightest students emerging, and to know that they will become tomorrow’s thought leaders and innovators.”

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