Jul 28, 2014
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Maloney Standout Aims High But Stays Grounded

Junior Chris Bischoff of Meriden, this week's Whiz Kid, is modest, friendly, and very, very accomplished.

Maloney Standout Aims High But Stays Grounded

Christopher Bischoff may be slight in stature, but both his easy smile and his enthusiasm are giant-sized. A top student in Maloney’s junior class, Bischoff maintains excellent grades while working, participating year-round in sports, and playing a central role in the Connecticut YMCA Youth and Government Program.

Last spring, Bischoff’s peers chose him to serve as attorney general, one of five elected positions in the statewide Youth and Government Program. As part of the program, high school students learn about government by taking part in a mock legislature at the state capitol. Each participating town sends a delegation. The students prepare bills beforehand and then spend a weekend in March serving in the youth Senate or House of Representatives.

During the statewide conference, Bischoff’s party nominated him to run for the office. He spent the weekend campaigning, which culminated in a speech on Sunday night. By the time it was his turn to speak, the delegates were at the end of a weekend of long days that didn’t end until after 11 p.m.  

“My goal was to try to be energetic and personable,” he says.

Apparently he succeeded.

Given the fact that he can deliver a convincing speech to 300 delegates in an atmosphere as intimidating as the state capitol, you might be surprised to know that, deep down, Chris Bischoff is shy.

“I’m kind of reluctant to do things sometimes,” he shares. “It’s nice to get that push from friends and family to step outside your comfort zone.”

Bischoff had another opportunity to do that over the summer when he served in the Youth Conference on National Affairs in North Carolina, part of the nationwide YMCA Youth and Government Program. One of 25 members of the Connecticut delegation, Bischoff was chosen to present an argument.

“It was a giant step outside my comfort zone,” he says, “but it felt so good afterwards.”

Are politics in Bischoff’s future? He doesn’t rule it out. Besides history and government, he is also interested in engineering. Thinking ahead to college, he is considering schools like West Point and UConn, which offer both.

Holding political office while maintaining excellent grades isn’t Bischoff’s only accomplishment. He runs cross country in the fall, participates in swimming and diving during the winter, and runs track in the spring at Maloney. This year, he was also asked to serve as a student representative to the Board of Education, a rare honor for a junior. He is also the student representative to the School Improvement Committee.

When asked the secret to his success, Bischoff told Patch, “I would really have to say it’s the way my parents raised my family.”

The fifth of seven children in the Bischoff family, Chris says his parents stressed learning the value of money and the value of education. Unlike many teenagers, he doesn’t spend a lot of time in front of a TV screen. The family doesn’t have cable.

“We’re always outside,” he shares. He describes himself as a real outdoors person who enjoys hiking and sitting around a campfire.

Like each of his siblings, he started a Record-Journal paper route in fourth grade. He also works part time as a dietary aide at the Bradley Home, serving dinner to elderly residents.

Growing up, Chris attended St. Joseph School. He looked up to his older sister who was also an excellent student, gaining a spot at Choate, a prestigious private high school in Wallingford. His parents held up his older siblings’ accomplishments as examples.

“We have to meet those standards,” he says.

He is doing just that. And at the same time, he manages to stay modest, according to Debbie Banas, who teaches social studies at Maloney and is advisor to the school’s Youth and Government contingent. She says Bischoff is smart and friendly, with a silly side.  

“He’s very smart, but he doesn’t make other people feel uncomfortable. People just gravitate toward him,” she attests. “He’s got so much potential. He’s definitely going to go far.”

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