Norwalk High School Senior Adam Serck has programmed a mobile wheelchair for a young child, rides a unicycle and has found time to earn college credit. Those achievements and more have earned him recognition from the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce as 2020 Student of the Year. Adam was honored at the Chamber’s 28th Annual Awards Celebration on January 22.
The son of Paul and Ricci Serck, Adam is focused on the college admission process as he prepares to graduate from NHS in May. Already on his resume is his status as a semi-finalist in the National Merit Scholarship program which recognizes students with exemplary academic records and performance on standardized testing.
His ultimate goal is a career in computer programming and software development, experience he is already developing through the more than 20 credit hours of programming obtained through Des Moines Area Community College.
How can other students have a successful high school experience? His advice: “Figure out what makes you happy and do it. Don’t do what other people think you should do. That’s how I found programming. I liked it and I stuck with it,” he says.
He has put the programming expertise to work as a captain of a Norwalk RoboWarriors team, a group he’s been involved with for the past three years. The teams’ most notable achievement this past year has been building three small robotic wheelchairs for young children with disabilities. “I’m proud to say I did the programming which converted remote control buggies into small wheelchairs for very young children,” he says. “The wheelchairs, which the young kids can operate with a joystick, offer them a sense of independence they haven’t had before.”
The RoboWarriors completed the first wheelchair in September and built two more in November and December for area youngsters. The group, which has school sponsorship, has held fund-raisers and also received donations from supporters to fund the wheelchair projects. The projects have led to local television coverage and social media attention.
Adam is also busy currently working with the team to produce a robot for a worldwide competition, a challenge launched in September to build a robot that can pick up a series of rings in a timed activity. The NHS team qualified for the competition’s world championship event in 2019 and for the Iowa state championship event in 2020 when no world event was offered because of the pandemic.
Adam’s other success this past year has been learning to ride a unicycle which he received as a birthday gift. “It is like learning to ride a bicycle all over again but there’s a bike trail near my home and now I ride the unicycle on the trail and passersby sometimes tell me ‘way to go’ or give me a wave,” he says. As if he didn’t have enough other activities, Adam also runs cross country and plays the baritone in the NHS Band, an instrument the band had previously not had until he took it up.
In addition to Adam, the Chamber’s awards event honored Citizen of the Year Crystal Ellis, Teacher of the Year Elaine Menke, Chamber Member of the Year Simmie Buehler, Business of the Year Capital City Fruit and Pivot Award Winner Norwalk Community School District.