Spectacular Students

William Tao’21: Novelist

By Leila Dall’Olmo ’20
william-1
Tao is on his computer, which is the device he uses to brainstorm for his novels. Credit: Leila Dall’Olmo ’20/SPECTRUM

William Tao ‘21 began the current iteration of his novel, “Spellchecked,” about one and a half years ago.

“[‘Spellchecked’] is set in a world where humans have powers based on English sayings. For instance, if someone had the power ‘piece of cake,’ then they would literally be able to summon pieces of cake,” Tao said.

Tao came up with the concept of the book at age nine, and tried to create a story with it, but was not able to at the time.

“It’s such a complex world that it took me several tries to get something right. I think I finally have something going here, but it took me six months just to get the economics and the politics; how the different nations interact with each other,” he said.

Tao started writing at seven years old, and has written three other books. He describes “Spellchecked” as one of his most promising pieces yet.

“[‘Spellchecked’] hopefully incorporates all of the elements of failure from before and nullifies their individual aspects so that I have a coherent book,” Tao said.

With a goal of completing one to two pages each day, Tao writes wherever and whenever he has the chance. He said he does not have a particular place, but one spot he has blacklisted for writing is the eighth grade lounge.

“I have a mild form of aphasia where when I’m talking to someone I accidently start typing it down, so when these kids next to me were playing ‘Slap!’, every now and then I’d write it down. So now at school I write in the lunch area when it’s quieter and there are fewer students roaming around because I like the wind and the openness of outside,” Tao said.

According to Tao although he has a general outline for his book, he prefers to let his ideas take him different places. Many of his ideas and characters actually come from people he has met.

“I’d like to think that the main character is half me and half the friend that inspired me to start writing. The main character is a very dry, witty and observant person. He can also be a bit stupid sometimes, jealous and desperate. I’ll let you decide which characteristics come from me and which come from my friend,” Tao said.

Tao said he hopes for a brighter future for “Spellchecked” than that of his last two books, which were quickly abandoned in the process when a better idea came along.

“I’m hoping it will get published; however, since I’m writing at an absolute glacial rate, it’s going to be at least another year before so, but I hope sincerely that it does. The target audience for the book is probably teenagers who have ideas about the world because the book addresses some matters about that,” Tao said.

Tao revealed that “Spellchecked” is part of a series, but could not give too many details about the storyline of the second book, in the hopes that his first one be published.

Tao does not know that writing is what he wants to do in the future, but he knows it is one of his many passions.

“I have promising adventures in mathematics, film-writing, animation and songwriting. I also got to nationals in Science Bowl. So those could take me in all different directions,” Tao said.

Berry Nakash ’20: Chef

By Georgia Gerber ’20

Berry Nakash ’20 was enrolled by her mother in cooking classes at age four. Though the class was for beginners, it sparked a long term love of the hobby for Nakash; it was then that she realized her love for cooking.

“[Cooking] was really something I liked to do, so I continued doing it,” Nakash said.

Her love of cooking and natural talent has allowed Nakash to do things that few 14 year-olds have. She appeared on season two of “MasterChef Junior,” where she prepared dishes for renowned chef, Gordon Ramsay. Nakash’s favorite memory from the show took place during the elimination round.

“It was during the challenge round where I made maple bacon baklava, and I almost didn’t finish on time. I was really stressed and rushing at the end. After that, I decided I needed to use my time more wisely,” Nakash said.

Nakash said that her love of cooking goes further than just having fun.

“[Cooking] allowed me to do things that most people at my age would not be able to do,” said Nakash.

At such a young age, she works at Earlez Grille, a catering company specializing in hamburgers, hot dogs and other grilled items. She also works at Cake and Art, a cake art shop. With Earlez Grill, Nakash has been able to cater to many celebrities, including the Kardashians.

Nakash’s favorite dishes to make are mushroom risotto and seared duck breast. She made those for the first time at the age of eight. Those meals were the first she learned with her cooking teacher, and they have stuck with her ever since.

Cooking has helped Nakash in other aspects of life as well. In addition to cooking, Nakash enjoys robotics and programming.

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