Indy's future powerbrokers turn Brain Drain into Brain Remain
Following up our popular “Ten Under 10: Indy’s Single Digit Movers and Shakers” (Cover, April 5, 2006) was no easy task. We pondered many approaches: Find 10 more under 10? Fifteen under 15? None of it rang true — no idea pushed the envelope quite far enough. Stumped, we hired a consulting firm, but that came to naught. We even threw the I Ching until we realized we didn’t know our yin from our yang. We finally gave up and decided to be guided by our hearts.
Bottom line, at the end of the day, we knew we had to take it to the next level.
And so here we are, after months of effort, of drilling down, we trolled, we polled, we cajoled and, yes, at last, we found them: Indy’s most dynamic under-5-year-olds.
We trust they’ll do for you what they did for us: Give us hope that the Brain Drain we hear so much about is, with this next generation, turning into a Brain Remain.
A governor’s appointee
Roscoe Deckard, 4, Noblesville
Roscoe Deckard’s appointment last year — at the age of 4 years and seven months — to head up the Governor’s Commission on Preschool Curriculum was not a surprise.
It could be considered a surprise that he had not been named earlier. After all, this wunderkind is nearly 5 now and ready to enter kindergarten.
Still, Deckard believes he can get the job done. “Sure,” the boy told us recently. “I’m still in touch with all my preschool friends. I know what works and what doesn’t. I have a whole bunch of plans I’ve spelled out with refrigerator magnets.”
Deckard comes from a long line of doers. His dad, Dale, has served with various mayoral administrations as a lawyer. He was chief counsel of councilors for former Mayor Steve Goldsmith and current Mayor Greg Ballard just tapped him for his team in the position of chief counsel for the chief council of chiefs and councilors. Dale’s father, and Roscoe’s grandfather, now deceased, worked with then-Mayor Richard Lugar on the Unigov Unified Field Theory Commission in the 1970s.
But it was Gov. Daniels who anointed Deckard with the vaunted position in his Preschool Curriculum initiative, part of the larger, nationwide Leave No Child Behind Unless They Really Want To Be.
Deckard’s preschool teacher Mrs. Yeoman said the boy’s tenure at Sycasagamore School for Precocious Preschoolers “was nothing less than amazing. Roscoe stood head and shoulders above the other students, sometimes literally as he likes to climb around on top of the other kids.”
Deckard, for his part, disputes this characterization. “Ms. Yeoman just doesn’t understand me. We like to build pyramids and I like to be on top. So I can peer into the distance of the future. That’s why they call them peer-a-mids.”
Surely, the current political establishment recognizes a forward seer and big doer when it finds one. Let’s hope that Roscoe Deckard hits the ground running in his new position of responsibility, that is unless he needs to stop, drop and roll first.
Best Friend: My pet teddy bear, Abdul
Pets: My pet teddy bear, Abdul
What’s under your bed: X-ray glasses
Favorite TV show: Indiana Week in Review
The littlest environmentalist
Josie Fields, 4, Speedway
By the time Josie Fields was 3 and a half, she had circulated a petition throughout her Eastside neighborhood. The petition headline was scrawled in black crayon and the words said “NO GOBL WARMEEN.” Now 4 and a half, Fields can laugh at her spelling mistakes.
“I was soooooo little then,” she says, adding, “but my heart was in the right space.”
Indeed. Her mother and stepfather agree that Fields has long been an advocate for environment responsibility.
“Hell, I can’t even use the microwave no more,” her stepfather, David Lowe, chuckles. “Except when she’s at a sleepover somewhere.”
Fields’ mother, Deloris Fields, says Josie “has always been this way. I mean from the get-go. She’d have nightmares and I’d wake her up and say, ‘What’s wrong darling?’ And it was never the normal stuff, you know, child molesters or muggers or whatever. It was always apocalyptic stuff like monster fires and rising oceans and whatnot. I got the V-chip and quit the Discovery Channel, that’s for sure.”
Even so, Josie Fields persisted in her concerns. She formed a support group among her neighborhood friends, canvassing local homes and starting an environmental awareness Sunday school initiative at her local church, The Fifth Third First Church of Jesus.
When asked how she came to be so concerned with the environment, Fields shrugs. “I was born this way.”
Her most recent push is to get Al Gore to run for president.
“He’s the only candidate who can put ‘green’ where it belongs,” Fields states. “I’ve even written him e-mails and stuff.”
Has he responded?
“No,” she says. “But maybe this newspaper article will get his attention.”
Fields’ mom says she plans on home-schooling Josie.
Nickname: Worry Wart
Dislikes: Styrofoam, phthalates, perchlorates, astrazine, contaminants of all kinds, James Inhofe
Best Friend: Al Gore (maybe)
Pets: My Al Gore bobble-head
What’s under your bed: Those little pills they think I take at night
Favorite TV show: This Dying Planet
The clean machine
Ursula Nixon, 4, Indianapolis
If you peered through the window of the near Northside daycare center God’s Little Angles (sic), you would behold a pistol of a fireplug of a little girl: Ursula Nixon. If the cops came to arrest you for being a peeping pervert, you could just point your finger (forefinger, please!) at the little bundle of wonder and the hardened cops, too, would behold the vision of little Nixon and be transfixed.
Editors note: You still might get arrested, even under these circumstances, so we don’t advocate you actually spy through windows of daycare centers, but that you call ahead instead.
Ursula Nixon is called “Earnest Ursula” by those who know her and the scene visible through the window tells the story: Ursula has her fellow daycare mates — numbering nearly a dozen — organized in a circle playing games and, most extraordinary, cleaning up after themselves.
By the time she was 2 and a regular at God’s Little Angles, she was, according to her daycare provider Jeanne Geyser, “already running the place.” Geyser describes a little girl who was “everywhere at once, organizing and cleaning, making the other kids get in line and that sort of thing. I tell you, I ended up catching a little shut eye on more than one occasion!”
We catch up with Nixon and her mother, Rachel, in their downtown condominium. Rachel recounts that her daughter has “pretty much always been wired. When her father left us [when Ursula was about 6 months], I’m guessing she sort of sponged up my anxiety at that time, and turned on the turbo juices.” Rachel, who works as a paralegal for a parainsurance agency, says she and her daughter are both “happy as clams now.”
For Ursula Nixon, being super organized just comes naturally. “I am fast and watch me go!” she says and runs around the condo’s living room. When we ask her what she sees herself doing as an adult, she pauses, gazing out the window. “I want to be the astronaut that cleans up the planet with a giant broom or a vacuum cleaner. Watch out messes, I will get you!”
With that, she is speeding around her house again, a rictus grin of pleasure on her face. It’s not hard to imagine her as an adult, cleaning up crime problems or toxic waste in our fair city.
Nickname: Earnest Ursula
Likes: Washington Post
Dislikes: Time out
Best Friend: My mom
Pets: Can’t! I’m allergic
What’s under your bed: Our bed — I sleep with mom — she won’t let me look!
Favorite TV show: The Odd Couple (reruns)
Born to succeed
Madison Nowicki, 4, Indianapolis
You’ve probably seen Madison Nowicki driving about town. Sure, a sleek black limo doesn’t turn too many heads these days, but what about one pulling a giant aquarium behind it? You guessed it. That’s Nowicki’s aquarium, one of the many visionary initiatives this 4-year-old powerbroker has created in her young life.
Nowicki, the daughter of unreal estate magnates, has lived a life of privilege, but she has humility about her. Just ask the interim foreman of her team of butlers, Roger (last name withheld).
“Madison,” Roger says, “is a generous little girl. She is always buying us croissants and whatnot when we are out and about. Plus, she is kind to her dolphins.”
The dolphins he refers to are housed in the aquarium that is pulled behind the limo. Whenever Nowicki goes out, the dolphins go with her. She likes drive-thrus so she can stare out the back window and watch her dolphins swim around happily.
“I love them,” Nowicki admitted in a recent story in the city’s daily paper.
Nowicki’s parents declined to be interviewed, nor did they deign to send in a press release, as they consider NUVO run by a bunch of hoodlums and hippies and idiots, an impression we hope to dispel by showcasing their daughter in the very feature that you’re reading, which is not to say we were motivated solely by this need — or desire — to be embraced by the intelligentsia and upper crust echelon of Indianapolis’ elite empyrean realm of blue-blooded, hermetically protected perfect people. Not at all.
Truth is, Nowicki already has many successful endeavors under her money belt, from the “I Personally Saved the Dolphins” program launched last year to her “Madison’s Little Ponies,” a new initiative that ensures that small ponies are never harmed by their masters.
With her pedigree, how can Nowicki miss being one of Indy’s future movers and shakers!
*Nickname: Little Madison
Likes: Dolphins, little ponies
Best Friend: Unknown
Pets: Dolphins and ponies
What’s under your bed: Unknown
Favorite TV show: Unknown
*Editors note: We were unable to acquire much of the information necessary to make this box a pleasing entry point. We are sorry, but it does not imply that we are hoodlums or hippies or idiots because we failed to deliver this.
New age juggernaut
Cumulous, 3, Indianapolis
Cumulous may be only 3 years old, but his young life has been full of spirit. His parents, Cirrus and Nimbus, note that Cumulous was aware of “his place in the Earth’s rhythms” from a very young age.
His male parent, Nimbus, recalls, “When Cumey was 9 months old, we caught him trying to crawl up his mother’s, well, you know, trying to crawl back in.”
“‘No, no, little one,’ I told him,” recounts his female parent Cirrus. “’You can’t go back in there.’”
The parents realized that their son was honoring a significant juncture. They knew his conception date and the date of this birth, of course, and Cumulous’ attempt to aggressively re-enter the womb was the exact same number of days: 294.
At that point, the parents renamed him — and themselves — to their current, cloud-oriented names. An older daughter, Meg, 8, was not renamed. According to Cirrus, “We love her of course but she displays no sense of harmony with the Earth.”
Editors note: The family refuses to reveal their previous names. Meg could not be reached for comment.
Now, throughout the metro area, scores of parents celebrate the nine-month juncture in the lives of their infants. Inspired by Cumulous, they enact complex rituals at this juncture, miming the attempted return of the tot to fetus stage, along with concomitant “labor wails” from the mothers.
But that is not all. The parents observed that Cumulous spent a lot of time in the kitchen banging on pan lids. One day, Nimbus got down on the floor with his son. “Cumey held a pan lid over my head,” Nimbus remembers, “and then struck it with a wooden spoon.
“I had had a headache for a couple of hours. When he hit the lid with the spoon, it reverberated and immediately erased my headache!”
Now Cirrus and Nimbus hold workshops in their Northside home, teaching Cumey’s pan-lid healing techniques to an adoring, grateful public.
Cumulous has yet to utter a word, a fact that does not surprise nor worry his parents.
“He’ll talk when he’s ready,” Nimbus says. “And boy when he does, it will be something amazing, I assure you.”
We can be certain there’s much more in store for Cumulous, our youngest pick for five under 5.
*Nickname: Chakra Charlie
Likes: Asafedita Ritual Powder, scrying mirrors
Dislikes: bad vibes, negative energy
Best Friend: my pendulum
Pets: singing bowls
What’s under your bed: a labyrinth
Favorite TV show: Teletubbies
* Editors note: Cumulous refused to pose for this story. Instead, his parents provided his self-portraits.
10 under 10
Where are they now?
While we were unable to track every one of our former 10 under 10 initiates, we got the skinny on most. Here is a quick roundup of our former honorees.
Winslow McHendricks, now 10, Zionsville: “Winnie” still plays chess with people all over the world. Her parents are now divorced, but McHendricks divides her time between her mom’s house in Zionsville and her dad’s house at Geist Reservoir.
Zane Sky Czoudakus, now 11, Indianapolis: This unique, home-schooled boy refused to be interviewed for this update.
Kyle Mendenhauf, now 10, Indianapolis: Kyle, aka “The Resumeister,” is still achieving great things at his charter school, Deliver Us From Evil Heights, though he was recently, according to his mother, “put on a stomach medicine and mood stabilizer.”
Jay Pendergastinghouse Jr., now 8, Zionsville: According to his father, Jay Pendergastinghouse Sr., Jay Jr. is “taking a little break from all that achieving.” He is still the head of his Neapolitan Charter School’s Lunchbox Imagery Review Committee.
Rashella Simpson, now 10, Carmel: This young dancer and award-winning swimmer unfortunately has had multiple knee surgeries since we last talked to her. She declined to be interviewed, but her ballet instructor Alexi Petrushko told us, “Rashella will be back in better form than ever.”
Connor Quinn, 11, Indianapolis: This young inventor was unfortunately injured in an explosion at his house. He is expected to fully recover.
Tom Splendor, now 17, Greenwood: Two years ago, Tom was cited as one of our 10 under 10. We thought he was 8. Sadly, he wasn’t. He was 15. Now a senior at Greenwood High School, Splendor admits he lied to “shame your stupid newspaper.”
Gigi Goshen, now 11, Indianapolis: Goshen, an A+ student at the Super Achievers Charter School of Indianapolis (SACSI), was discovered last year to have been embezzling funds from the school. She is currently housed in Juvenile Detention.
Max Morrison, now 4 and a half, Indianapolis: No longer levitates at daycare, nor does he build the “M.C. Escher-like construction of blocks.” His mother, Mercedes Morrison, concedes her son is “taking time off.”
Jimmy Nelson, now 9, Indianapolis: Nelson was named Penrod Boy of the Year again last year, perfecting his talents at origummi, booger macramé, earwax collage and burping in harmonic octaves. This year, however, he reportedly has a girlfriend, a charge he vigorously denies.