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Boy genius ready for bigger things

by Joe Duggan, Lincoln Journal Star
Originally published June 16, 2001

The gown's sleeves hung past his hands and he almost couldn't see over the podium. But 10-year-old Brandenn Bremmer had a big message to deliver Friday at his high school graduation.

For his speech, the youngest graduate in the 72-year history of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Independent Study High School modified an Internet article about the condition of the human race. He told how he and other Americans enjoy advantages of wealth, health and education that most of the world will never know.

"We have an obligation," Brandenn said in a poised voice. "If we do not contribute to civilization, then all the hard work of the generations before us will have been in vain."

The rural Venango boy, wearing a black cap and gown and a red rose boutonniere, said after the UNL East Campus ceremony he wasn't nervous speaking before a crowd of 70 people, including friends, family, four fellow graduates and the staff and faculty of Independent Study High School.

"I've played piano on stage quite a bit, so it just comes naturally," he said.

Brandenn, whose IQ of 178 is shared by only one in a million people, could read by age 2. Home-schooled by his parents, Patti and Martin Bremmer, he began taking Independent Study High School courses when he was 6. He completed his junior and senior "years" in seven months to participate in Friday's ceremony.

His class included 190 students from 37 states and 20 countries, ISHS Principal Jim Schiefelbein said. Most are 18 years old, though some are as young as 15. The four others attending Friday's graduation were all from Nebraska.

They took the stage to a piano rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance" and received their diplomas from UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Donald Swoboda, dean of the Division of Continuing Studies. Schiefelbein turned their tassels.

Graduate Allison Huerter of Omaha, 18, said Friday she was blown away to graduate with a 10-year-old.

"I was very impressed with his speech," she said. "He seems like a very intelligent young boy and he's going to accomplish a lot in his life."

Brandenn said he plans to relax and have some fun this summer, but he already wants to take an astronomy course next fall at Midlands Community College in Ogallala. He and his parents have yet to make firm plans for college.

On Friday, he simply sounded like any other kid on graduation day.

"It feels great because all that school work is behind me," he said.

Reach Joe Duggan at jduggan@journalstar.com or 473-7239.

Copyright 2001, Lincoln Journal Star. All rights reserved.

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