14-year-old Pasco teen heading to college

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldMay 27, 2013 

Even as a preschooler, Lynnae Glaesemann grasped new ideas quickly and was great at memorizing. But she didn’t think her academic skills were unusual.

“I always assumed everyone else was quiet about it,” the 14-year-old said.

Since then, she’s skipped a few grades and now is taking AP classes at Chiawana High School in Pasco. She also already has taken college entrance exams, scoring as well as the average graduating high school senior despite not studying all the subjects covered on the tests.

“People kind of do a double-take,” said her mother, Karen Glaesemann.

The need for more academic challenges will take Lynnae to the East Coast this fall, where she’ll start studying for her bachelor’s degree at Mary Baldwin College, a small, private, women-only school.

Lynnae’s exceptional talents have provided their challenges, from struggles with teachers, to now dealing with her leaving for college four years before most others finish high school. But Lynnae said she’s excited to be at an academic level that challenges her, and her parents say they support her. “This is what she needs,” her mother said.

The Glaesemanns moved to the Tri-Cities in 2007 and have lived in Pasco since 2011. Karen and her husband, Kurt Glaesemann, have four children including Lynnae, who is the oldest.

Kurt Glaesemann works at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland while Karen Glaesemann runs the computer lab at Pasco’s St. Patrick School, which their youngest children attend. The Herald previously reported on Lynnae when she and her sister Erynn, now 13, went to space camp in 2011.

The couple said they knew early that their daughter was gifted.

From a young age she demonstrated a preternatural ability for math and science, or, as Lynnae puts it, “anything involving patterns.”

Everyday things, such as the descending number of letters in her siblings’ names to how the time displayed on a clock could be expressed as an equation, were easily pointed out by Lynnae. And it’s not just math and science; she also enjoys writing and history.

“I think it’s important for kids to not operate under labels,” Kurt Glaesemann said. “We really didn’t worry about (Lynnae’s abilities).”

In the seventh grade, Lynnae’s scores on the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, test showed she was at a particularly high level.

She was encouraged to take the SAT, despite having not taken algebra yet. She scored a 1,500, an average score for high school students taking the exam and generally considered enough to get into college. A few months later, she took the ACT and received a 23, above the average.

“It definitely put us on the spot to figure out what to do with her intellect,” her mother said. “It was confirmation she needed a challenge.”

Her mother said she and her husband researched options for their daughter and found a dearth of programs suited to her.

There are some catering to students as young as 16, such as Duke University’s Talent Identification Program, but very few for someone as young as Lynnae.

The few programs that do exist require the student to live at home and the closest one is in Seattle. They also ruled out sending her to Washington State University Tri-Cities or Columbia Basin College.

“The local colleges don’t offer her a group of peers,” Karen Glaesemann said. “Intellectually, she’s capable of a lot.”

“But I’m still 14,” added Lynnae.

The Glaesemanns eventually learned about the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted at Mary Baldwin. The program has existed since 1985 and works with girls from 13 to 15 years old.

Margaret Bivans, associate director of admissions, said the program enrolls about 76 students and will bring in about 20 in the fall.

“Our students are coming to us for something their home schools can’t provide,” she said.

Lynnae visited the campus last year and was excited after spending time there, saying “it’s like a big family; we understand each other.”

However, the family had to go through an extensive application process, requiring student and parents to write essays, take part in interviews and provide evidence of strong academic performance.

The college offered Lynnae a spot just before Thanksgiving and also will cover about half of her tuition.

She’ll leave in late August and plans to double major in chemistry and math and minor in physics and computer science. She’ll live in a dormitory on campus and have some restrictions on leaving campus and being on out on her own until she’s 16.

The college urged Lynnae to get some high school experience before arriving this fall. The Pasco School District allowed her to attend Chiawana High this spring, where she’s taking a full class load. She won’t leave with a high school diploma, though, because she won’t meet all the state’s requirements for graduation.

Lynnae, who also enjoys biking and roller skating, is in the Young Marines and can be annoyed at her younger siblings like any other teenager. She said she’ll miss her friends and family. However, she’s ready to move on.

“I want the challenge, I want the adventure,” she said.

Her parents said they’re glad their daughter will be getting the academic rigor she craves, but that they are going to miss her.

“It is going to be tough,” her mother said.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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