Noah Werthaiser-Kent is wild about books and curious about everything. The 13-year-old Ashland Middle School student also takes great joy in his gardening club at school, the newfound pleasures of math and the study and hard work that culminated in his recent bar mitzvah.
Larry Hansen, Werthaiser-Kent's math teacher, says he is struck by the young man's thirst for knowledge.
"Noah's love of learning has grown this year," Hansen said. "He is exhibiting a desire to learn and understand math and related concepts that is really impressive."
Werthaiser-Kent spoke with the Daily Tidings about his love of books, the pride he takes in his religion and culture, and his tough little brother.
DT: What grade are you in?
NWK: I'm in seventh-grade.
DT: What are your favorite subjects in school?
NWK: I think I like math. I was never good at it until I had Mr. Hansen. Then it all kind of stuck. He's a good teacher.
DT: Do you have a teacher that especially inspires you?
NWK: I am inspired by all of my teachers in general, but if I had to pick one I think my homeroom and language arts teacher, Ms. Cory. She is never the sort of person who grumbles about her job. She loves what she does and she values kids' opinions just as much as the opinions of other teachers.
DT: What do you like to do outside of school?
NWK: I am part of the garden club after school on Mondays and Fridays with some of my good friends, and we have a great time. Our goal is to grow enough fresh produce to sell to the school cafeteria. We already have planted enough to do that. We've got lettuce, tomatoes, onion, spinach and bok choy. The greenhouse is pretty large and we also have a bunch of beds. I also love to read. I can demolish a good book as if it were a slice of cake.
DT: What are you reading now?
NWK: Now, I'm reading "The Subtle Knife," by Philip Pullman. It's part of the "Dark Materials" series that started with the "Golden Compass." I also have always loved the Harry Potter series, especially "Order of the Phoenix."
DT: Do you think you would like to write novels in the future?
NWK: No. I've tried to write books, but I can't finish them. I can't seem to get more than five chapters.
DT: Do you have trouble balancing school and your outside interests?
NWK: I can certainly get distracted if, for instance, there is a book lying around or the laptop is on. I am like the character Flick in the movie "A Bug's Life," who spends more time trying to find an easier way of doing something than the task would normally take.
DT: What do you think you want to do when you are an adult?
NWK: I am thinking of working in the national government. I have gone to the state Capital in Salem with my friend Elana Toppo, and served as an honorary page. I was even sworn into office and everything. It was pretty cool.
DT: Talk about something you have done that makes you proud.
NWK: I just recently had my bar mitzvah. That is a ceremony of my coming of age in the Jewish religion. I started studying in August of last year and from that time on, I had to learn Hebrew, and trust me, that was not easy. Then in March, we had a whole bunch of family come in and I read from the Torah.
DT: Talk about someone in your family who makes you proud.
NWK: To be honest, I am very proud of my little brother, Asher. He, no matter what gets thrown in his way, is tough. He can do anything he puts his mind to and I love him.