From left, students Chris Traver of Croton Harmon High School,...

From left, students Chris Traver of Croton Harmon High School, Daniel McQuaid of Ossining High School and Jiayi Peng of Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua were named among the Intel Science Talent Search finalists. Credit: Xavier Mascarenas, handout

I strongly disagree with the idea that science whiz kids who win competitions like the Intel Science Talent Search are from economically privileged families ["Sharp division on science contests," Letters, Jan. 19].

Samantha Garvey, whose family was homeless, was a national science prize finalist. The many kids whose parents are immigrants from places like China, South Korea or India aren't rich either.

What these students lack in financial resources, however, they compensate for in intellectual and spiritual wealth. By contrast, many of their fellow students are simply more interested in smoking pot, drinking beer, watching sports on TV, playing video games, hanging out in the car behind the shopping mall, and waiting for that million-dollar record company contract or NBA deal to magically fall from the sky.

The students who win contests come from homes where books, science, art, religion, philosophy and community voluteerism are more important than celebrities, athletes and gadgets; where family outings are to museums, libraries, historic sites and church, rather than to the mall.

Let's stop blaming talented and brilliant "overachievers" because "underachievers" have parents who care more about who wins the Super Bowl than how well their kids do in math.

Paul Manton, Levittown

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