There’s no shortage of passion or enthusiasm in Cory Ackerman.
Just look at Fandom Club, which was established by the South Whidbey High School senior this year. It wasn’t bred from a desire to add to his resume or college applications, but from wanting to connect with others who share an interest in subcultures such as television shows and movies.
His friend and track and field teammate Collin Burns recognized this long ago. He knows that whatever Ackerman does, it’s with a spirited effort.
“He’s very enthusiastic about everything he does,” Burns said. “He’s made his own club. He does stuff that he’s passionate about. It’s a good thing to see; I can always trust that he really cares about what he’s doing.”
Fandom Club’s intent is both to promote connections among students through “fandoms” and allow students to discuss philosophical questions that pertain to fandoms.
But that’s just one small slice of Ackerman, a future student at the University of Washington. He’s also the treasurer for the Associated Student Body, a member of the National Honor Society, student representative for the Parent-Teacher-Student Association and a long distance runner for the Falcons’ track and field team. Additionally, he’s a member of Key Club, and volunteers with Hearts for Hammers every year.
His efforts in and outside of school fulfill a wide variety of interests that the senior has developed over the years.
“It’s fun, it really is,” Ackerman said. “My interests vary. I have a pretty wide range of things that I enjoy. So, being able to engage with other interested people in those areas and being able to help people out and expand their ideas and values and stuff like that is a really fun and great opportunity.”
Ackerman said Fandom Club has not only brought together students who aren’t typically the most involved in activities, but also created a niche and small community within the school. But, they don’t just discuss and watch famed movie series like “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars.”
“We do projects together, we raised money for charity and are doing a movie together,” Ackerman said. “It’s sort of fun stuff to promote inclusiveness in the school and get those kids involved.”
The 20-person club raised $270 through bake sales, which they donated to community-driven charitable movement Project For Awesome. The experience of creating a club and seeing its impacts were fulfilling, Ackerman said, and he hopes it inspires others to become involved in whatever they’re interested in.
Ackerman’s first experience with sharing his own interests with those around began in the sixth grade when an elementary school teacher invited him to teach about dinosaurs at a science fair. Dinosaurs and paleontology were Ackerman’s childhood passions, so he readily agreed. He taught kids about how different dinosaurs related to each other, how paleontologists did their job and the science behind their work. The experience taught Ackerman that however unique his interests were, they could be shared with others given the right environment.
Mark Eager, a history teacher at the high school and his track coach, was impressed by Ackerman’s presence at the time.
“He’s quite a character,” Eager said. “I remember seeing him in early middle school and I was like, ‘That kid is going to be a politician someday.’ You could just see that he had this presence about him. He’s smart, he’s funny and he works his tail off out here.”
While Eager was referencing Ackerman’s work ethic in track, the same could be said about his efforts in school; Eager said he’s received emails from Ackerman as late as 11:30 p.m. and shows the senior stays up pondering his school work. Eager said he’s also incredibly outgoing in his interactions with others and regularly puts himself into social situations.
“He’s one of the biggest extroverts I’ve ever seen,” Eager said. “He’s just out there.”
As outgoing as Eager is during the school week, Ackerman’s persona can change on the weekends.
“I’m not the most restless person to go out and do things,” Ackerman said. “A fun Friday night is reading a new book.”
As much as Ackerman has already accomplished, there is still more that could be done, he said. Ackerman has always wanted to promote the student’s voice in school decision making and even considered becoming the South Whidbey School Board’s student representative, but his sports commitments would not permit enough free time. His sister, Sydney, was the first ever student representative on the board in 2013-14.
“I would hope the ASB would go on to have a more instrumental role in school policy,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman said he is undecided on a major at the University of Washington, but plans to study either political science or architectural design.