Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Meet David Kleinik

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Meet David Kleinik

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Staff writer

The kids in Jeris Simmons' trainable mentally handicapped class have named their 25 goldfish and are studiously keeping track of their health.

And the 13-year-old who made it happen is sporting a big grin and the prospect of making his long-awaited goal of Eagle Scout.

For his project, David Kleinik, an eighth-grader at Darnell-Cookman Middle School, a medical magnet on Davis Street, built two aquarium stands for Simmons' students.

"Ever since he became a Boy Scout, he's been wanting to know when he's going to make Eagle," said his mother, Roberta Kleinik.

Only 2 to 3 percent of scouts nationwide reach the coveted rank. Moreover, most don't make it when they are still 13, scout officials said. It requires 21 merit badges, a service project and board of review. Kleinik has 31 badges and expects his board to be held soon.

He spent spring break doing the project with the assistance of other members of Troop 131 at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.

"They're a good bunch of boys," said Bill LeBarron, the troop scoutmaster. "These kids work. For Eagle projects, they've built bridges, done nature trails and put data centers together for a day care. Then there's David's aquarium, which he did an excellent job on."

Kleinik, whose mother is a special education teacher at Ed White High School, said he became acquainted with Simmons' class while working on his handicapped awareness badge. Last year, he started reading to her students.

Then he learned they wanted an aquarium so they could study goldfish. So he built two stands large enough to hold two 55-gallon tanks. The aquarium sits atop one stand. A terrarium will be placed on the other, and Kleinik would like to get the tank donated.

"He's been both a role model and a friend to my students," Simmons said. "He's a positive example of how a student should behave. …

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