Eagle Rock Elementary Student Excels at GCC


COLLEGE BOUND: Cyprian “CJ” Edwards-Acton learned how to code and create web sites at 7 years old.

Kristine Tuzon, El Vaquero Staff Writer

As elementary school children learn how to recite the alphabet and count to 100, 11-year-old Eagle Rock Elementary School student Cyprian “CJ” Edwards-Acton won a national Nestlé contest and attended a computer programming class at Glendale Community College.

After purchasing his first Lenovo laptop at the age of 7, Edwards-Acton grew fond of computer programming. His father Jaime, mother Suzanne and brother Micah all said that they noticed his passion for computers at a young age.

“The first thing he really got into, on computers, was building websites. So when he was 7 or 8 he would figure out how to build basic little websites,” said Jaime Edwards-Acton, who helped him get started.

In 2010, CJ Edwards-Acton and his friend Marc Ong created Neodash Technology, a website that showcased both their imagined computer design and operating system.

Suzanne Edwards-Acton was surprised her son was into computers because she did not buy him any high-tech devices.

“We would buy them a Gameboy or something, but we didn’t ever buy them that stuff,” she said. “If they wanted it, they had to save up their own money for it.”

After selling his Kinect on eBay to buy his Lenovo and obtaining a MacBook Pro this past Christmas, CJ Edwards-Acton decided to take a GCC online class called Creating Mobile Apps with HTML5 during fall 2012 to expand his knowledge.

“I used a lot of the HTML I learned and the CSS.” he said. CJ Edwards-Acton used what he learned in his class to develop a program to find people around a person’s proximity who share the same common interests and hobbies, like Google or Craigslist.

Over the past few years, CJ Edwards-Acton represented part of 3 percent of students younger than 18 years old, and the 0.1 percent of students between 11 and 15 years old who have taken credit courses in spring and fall semesters, according to Edward Karpp, dean of research, planning and grants.

After taking the class, CJ Edwards-Acton became one of the two winners between fifth and sixth grade who won the Nestlé Best in Youth essay contest. Nestlé rewards students who have displayed exceptional school promise, and who have made a difference in the lives of others.

In his essay he wrote, “My main goal in life is to at least change one person’s life, then work my way to changing the world and one day be an inspiration to the future generation leaders and innovators.”

More than 1,000 applications sent in from across the US, CJ Edwards-Acton and 17 other winners and their parents, will be awarded a paid trip to Los Angeles on July 25 to 28, $1,000 for their school, $1,000 for the charity of their choice and they will get to meet honorary chair Clippers basketball player Blake Griffin.

CJ Edwards-Acton will donate his winnings to the California Dance Institution, where he continues to take dance lessons. “They have performances, and they ask for donations. I feel guilty, because we have never given them money, and he’s getting great dance lessons,” Suzanne Edwards-Acton said.

In addition to his programming skills, CJ Edwards-Acton’s talents also include photography, reading, cooking, taekwondo and updating and editing his YouTube channel.

This summer, CJ Edwards-Acton said he plans to take more GCC classes.

“I really would love for him to say I finished my first computer class at the age of 11 or 12,” Suzanne Edwards-Acton said. “I would really love for him to put that on his college app.”

As CJ Edwards-Acton continues his education at Eagle Rock High School next year, Jaime Edwards-Acton said, “I think it’s great to have GCC. What is offered there he can’t get at Eagle Rock High. I don’t want him to feel like he can’t learn something. He’s hungry to learn, or he can’t discover something that he wants to discover.”

With all of his accomplishments, his family is proud for their youngster.

“I want to see him happy with what he’s doing. That’s ultimately what I want,” Micah Edwards-Acton said. “Even if it doesn’t end up being his current life plan I want him to be happy in whatever he does.”