Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

    Ilian Onkelinx: Star Student, World Traveler, Artist

    Ilian Onkelinx, Class of 2026

    Possessing the curiosity required to care enough to get to know someone allows you to grasp the realities of their life and the uniqueness of their personal experiences. By asking only a couple of interview-style questions, you begin to break down the generalizations of someone’s situation and become more aware of the fact that no person is one-dimensional.

    This can be said for my experience meeting Ilian Onkelinx. Seeing Ilian walking down the hall can be puzzling for many.  Smaller than other HHS students, he heads to class with AP textbooks in his backpack, and an ambition to understand the world around him.

    If he hadn’t found the work assigned to him in previous school years in Belgium and multiple highly regarded public schools in Florida to be so effortless, he would be in seventh grade. Instead, his bright mind and ability to quickly recall information led teachers and staff at his previous schools to question his placement.

    Achieving success in much more difficult subjects than his classmates, Ilian was left discontent with the work assigned to him. At two years old, he read and counted with ease, leading him to be evaluated for giftedness. We aimed to keep him with his peers and friends for as long as possible,” Mrs. Reumers, Ilian’s mother, says. “But his teacher in first grade felt like she had to provide a completely different curriculum for him and this would be too disruptive for the classroom.” 

    With the implementation of this decision, Ilian was thriving. In addition to being adequately challenged and performing well in his academics, the switch from the standard courses and classroom setting of a first grader to a more fitting environment allowed Ilian to prosper socially. “We realized that he was a completely different kid and made even more friends.”

    However, Ilian’s dynamic education journey was once again challenged by his move from Belgium to the United States. This move forced the family to question what Ilian’s academic situation would be in such a different environment. Upon moving to the US, Ilian’s parents were advised to put him back into classes for his age group so he could learn English. However, this switch was short-lived, as he began speaking fluent English within a mere few months of his move. “We were left wondering if we made the best choice, as it tends to reflect in his overall well-being when he is not intellectually challenged,” Mrs. Reumers says.

    Ilian’s bright mind was once again noticed by the teachers at his Florida middle school, who reached out to his family, informing them that he would be better suited for a more rigorous course load. With this recognition, Ilian tackled his seventh and eighth-grade years simultaneously.

    Once Ilian had adjusted to his new school and new course load, he once again packed up his things to move; this time, to Hopkinton Massachusetts.

    “[Moving here] was very strange, but also familiar. It’s happened to me so many times before and I didn’t know anyone [on my first day]…so it was still very intimidating. (The high school) is twice or three times as big as my old school, so it took me a while to get to my classes,” Ilian says. “I think I went the wrong way about four times per day before I got used to the layout of the school.” On his first day, something he was not used to also sparked Ilian’s attention. “Everyone here is so tall. In middle school, people were taller than me but it was never that much of a difference. Here, there are people almost twice my size.”

    Despite being surrounded by unknown, older people and a much larger building, Ilian is familiar with the shocked reactions of other students upon discovering his young age. “I’m a young kid. Even at my previous schools… A lot of people didn’t believe me when I said that I was thirteen and in tenth grade. Sometimes, people [would say] ‘you’re too young to be in this class’ and things like that, but I’m still in the same classes as them.”

    Waking up at the sound of his 6:50 alarm, catching the bus, and going to school, Ilians follows the blueprint of any typical high school routine. The prompt 7:55 am ringing of the school bell greets him at the door of his first class. Another day of sitting through presentations and lectures on sentence composition and cell cycles begins. 

    Upon returning home, the last thing Ilian wants to do is his homework. To put it off, he spends some days with his brother, absorbed in the bright pixels of the computer screen. This occupies their time after school when Ilian is not busy tackling pre-calc sheets. The conversations between and the joint laughter of the two siblings drown out the looming thought of textbook notes before the universally experienced eye roll that precedes the inevitable hours spent on intense studying. His curiosity and imagination that contribute to his amassed collection of A’s in his classes are similarly responsible for shaping his various hobbies and interests. Ilian spends some days taking weekly ceramics classes, others writing poetry or creative stories, planning on one day writing and publishing his own fiction books. “I want to explore different types of art, and dive deeper into writing,” Ilian says. His strong interest in art has even inspired him to pursue certain elective classes, such as graphic design. 

    However, Ilian’s time is forced to be divided between his various artistic pursuits and the hours of necessary studying. Balancing multiple AP and tenth-grade honors classes is no easy task for any high schooler, especially a thirteen-year-old. “Moving from early middle school to high school, there is a big step up in the amount of work,” Ilian says. “Sometimes I don’t end up finishing it all because I don’t leave myself the time.” His heavy, tedious workload and strict time constraints take a toll on Ilian’s stress levels. He is forced to balance the pressure of his difficult course load with the people and activities in his life that he enjoys. 

    “I had never seen him so motivated in his school work,” Mrs. Reumers says. “It was his own ambition and hard work that got him to where he is today.”

     This ambition and hard work regarded by his mother is shared by his teachers, who think Ilian performs just as well as his classmates in his difficult courses. “Ilian is like any other student in my class. He works hard in Biology and has solid study habits,” Ms. Spinks, Ilian’s AP Biology teacher, says. “I actually didn’t know at first that he was thirteen, not fifteen or sixteen like most of his classmates.”

    After years of moving around the globe, Ilian has been exposed to various academic and social environments, a journey he looks upon fondly. From Belgium to multiple Floridian towns, to Hopkinton High School, Ilian has exposed himself to numerous cultures, people with different ways of life, backgrounds, and opinions, and beautiful nature that feeds his artistic, and imaginative mind. These collective experiences have allowed him to sculpt a loose plan for his future centered around his various aspirations. With prospects of attending a local STEM high school, attending college, and continuing to explore the arts, Ilian intends to move again, allowing himself to continue exploring the world around him through science, art, writing, and his interactions with the new people he gets to know and understand. Ilian hopes to fulfill these diverse ambitions, despite the stressors of his daily life and the judgement of others. Despite any adversities, Ilian is able to remind himself to “not be too hard on yourself, even if you mess up, in the end it won’t matter.”

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