The Coastal Star

Tots & Teens: Boca High valedictorian plans to mix technology and corporate law

By Janis Fontaine

Boca Raton High School senior John “Jack” Chapman has an impressive résumé: student body president, co-valedictorian, multiple-sport varsity athlete.

But the thing that proved his biggest challenge?

Putting on a Speedo to join the Boca High water polo team.

The standout athlete played center on the football team in the fall and wrestled in the spring, but he lost interest in wrestling when his favorite coach left. His best friends played water polo and they wanted him to join. “It’s a very relaxed program and everyone is really friendly,” he said.

Never one to back down from a challenge, he put up with the teasing from the football team about his suit. “That was not the ideal attire,” Chapman laughed.

Academically, though, Chapman is confident, with good reason. He is a U.S. Presidential Scholars candidate and National Advanced Placement Scholar. He threw his hat into the ring at the nation’s best universities but says, “I never really definitely decided my top school. I thought, ‘No matter what, I should be happy.’ ”

Chapman, 18, was accepted into the honors programs at Florida and Virginia, as well as the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Wyoming. So, he had plenty of options.

But when he was accepted to Stanford, it felt right. The acceptance rate for the class of 2022 is 4.3 percent. In 2018, Stanford offered admission to just 2,040 of the 47,450 students who applied.

So the scholar is bound for the Silicon Valley, an area that fits into his big-picture plan: Ultimately, Chapman intends to go to law school, and he’s leaning toward corporate law, with a special interest in tech companies. To lay the groundwork, he plans to minor in computer science.

This won’t be his first foray in the Stanford pond. He took Mandarin Chinese at Stanford the summer between his sophomore and junior years, a really tough class but worth the effort, he said.

Then more recently, Stanford called again, with the football team asking if the Florida All-Star wanted to walk on to the special teams squad. Chapman said yes, so he’ll incorporate the team’s eating plan and workout schedule to get football-ready while he’s holding down a prestigious internship in trade relations with the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., this summer. 

Participating in sports has made Chapman, who excels individually, into a strong team player. And he’s not afraid to try new things or to fail. “I definitely try to step out of my comfort zone, to try things that I’m not great at, like water polo. I want to improve myself,” he said.   

For his community service, Chapman coached Pop Warner football, organized Boca High’s dance marathon to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network and led a supply drive for Florida Keys victims of Hurricane Irma.

He says his strong suit is his genuine curiosity. “I’m interested in a lot of things, and I like to be productive. I have two younger brothers and I like mentoring,” he said.

He stays on top of things, sometimes using a schedule, sometimes just to-do lists. Prioritizing is key, he said, but so is seeing the big picture.  “You have to be observant of all the parts, and how they all fit together. I had a math teacher who taught me to find the thing that ties everything together,” he said. 

As president of the 3,300-member student body at Boca High, Chapman spent the last few months in discussions about plans to improve security. After Parkland, everyone was on alert.

“Safety is something we’ve always prioritized, and we’ve been proactive,” he said.

The school advisory board recently approved new metal detectors, Chapman said.

On May 19 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, John “Jack” Chapman, the eldest son of Ann and Frank, graduated with 895 other students, all ready to start new chapters of their lives. Most would agree with Chapman: “I’m looking forward to more independence.” 

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