National Merit Scholar David Forman, who is headed to Hillsdale College in Michigan, is a skilled violist, debater and mathematics whiz. Photo: Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News

National Merit Scholar is a man of many pursuits

By Bob Smith

Kitsap News Group

PORT ORCHARD — Intermixed between violin concertos, Norwegian folk dancing, debates and reciting Latin, 18-year-old David Forman of South Kitsap hardly has time to catch his breath.

The graduating homeschooled high-schooler has been living his life in the fast lane, in a sense, setting aside slices of his daily schedule to take in viola lessons, read medieval literature and perform on stage as the Cowardly Lion in the play “The Wizard of Oz” performed on stage in Poulsbo.

His partners in this experiential journey have been his two older sisters, Tova and Elena — who themselves were homeschooled — and his parents, George and Deirdre, who have served as part-time instructors and transportation coordinators as he’s traveled from one lesson or performance to another.

For most teenagers who find themselves with such a runaway schedule, it might be fraught with occasional meltdowns and burnouts. But for David, his educational experience over the past dozen or so years has been exhilarating.

“Being homeschooled has been so much fun,” the well-spoken young man said, perched on a chair next to the family piano in his South Kitsap home.

“If I’d gone to high school, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I have had, like going to Olympia for debate or to Seattle for violin lessons. And I’ve done this at my own pace.”

Which for Forman, is a pace that’s way beyond that of nearly all of his peers.

His success in tackling a broad spectrum of classes and subjects has allowed the studious homeschooler to compete alongside 15,000 National Merit Scholarship finalists nationwide and eventually achieve the status of becoming a Merit Scholarship winner.

He’s just one of two scholars from Kitsap County who are among about 7,500 high-school seniors nationally who will receive National Merit Scholarships for college undergraduate study.

The other recipient, Nicholas J. Dalton of Central Kitsap High School, plans to seek a degree in biological engineering from the University of Kansas.

Forman is headed to Hillsdale College in Michigan, where he expects to major in mathematics, leading to a career in computer science. The 1,500 students who attend the private liberal arts college, he said, share a like-minded appreciation of its teaching of the Constitution and Christian conservatism.

“The students there are respectful and very conservative, and I like that,” he said. “It’s nice to have others on campus who are like-minded and people I can learn from.”

To speak with the engaging graduate, it’s fair to say that Forman hasn’t quite found out where he’ll land once he graduates from Hillsdale College. While he excels in mathematics — scoring a perfect 1600 on his PSATs in the field — Forman also loves literature and reading. His favorite book series is “The Lord of the Rings.”

And, not surprisingly, since he has played violin and viola with the Seattle Youth Symphony, Bremerton Symphony and the Peninsula Youth Orchestra in Gig Harbor, Forman said he loves to perform on stage.

Most recently, he’s made regular Monday trips to Poulsbo for rehearsals as the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“I love to perform,” he said. “When I was young, I was taught both piano and violin. Eventually, violin took over.

“Then two years ago, I switched to viola (the violin’s slightly larger, deeper sounding cousin). That’s provided me opportunities to play in a quartet.

“This spring, I played a concerto with the Bremerton Symphony along with my sister Tova. We won the competition with a wonderful Mozart duet on violin.”

Although Hillsdale College is small, Forman said it has an impressive music program for its size. And while he’s decided not to pursue a career as a professional violist, the school will provide him an outlet to exercise his musical passion.

For now, the honors student expects to follow the road that the field of computer science will lead him.

After graduation, Forman said, he expects to earn a master’s degree and earn a living in that field. He has an excellent role model — his father is a senior research scientist with Hewlett-Packard.

As his homeschool experience comes to a close, Forman said he looks forward to expanding his quest for education, even though it will be centered thousands of miles away from home.

And while there’s bound to be some social adjustment with having his family so far away from Hillsdale, if Forman needs a slice of homegrown flavor, he’ll only have to take a short walk to visit a sibling — sister Tova also is a student there.

“As I look back at my education, I’m so grateful to have been given these opportunities.

“I’ve been fortunate.”