Sam Mercer was 11 years old when he entered Sanford High School. Four years later, he is graduating and soon heading off to college.

In between, Mercer has distinguished himself as a top student who figured out how to bridge the gap between himself and classmates several years older.

“The main drawback was social,” Mercer said. “At 12 I was still interested in Star Wars and Legos, while other students were going out on dates and hanging out at football games.”

To connect with older students, Mercer decided to reach out and make the most of what he loves best – learning and sharing what he has learned. He founded the Chemistry Club and tutored students who were taking Advanced Placement chemistry. Then he got the captain of the varsity baseball team to coach him on the side and help him secure a spot on the junior varsity team.

“I adore sharing and accepting information from others,” said Mercer, who learned to read Latin at age 9.

Mercer has taken every challenging course offered at Sanford High, including eight AP courses. At age 12, he got a top score of 5 on the AP history test, qualifying him for college credit.


Mercer enjoys finding connections between diverse subjects that aren’t obviously related. In studying World War I, he delved into the environmental impacts of machinery on the European countryside.

“I’m always building my knowledge of one subject to another,” Mercer said. “I’ve always had an unusual motivation to do well and be the best.”

Outside school, Mercer enjoys playing piano and making stop-motion animated Lego videos. He was accepted to three universities – University of Southern Maine, Boston University and University of New Hampshire – but isn’t old enough to stay on campus at any of them. So he plans to live at home and commute to UNH in Durham.

“I’m excited,” Mercer said. “I know college has a lot more doors to open.”

Mercer plans to study chemical engineering so he can find ways to make business and industry environmentally friendly as well as profitable. He believes many problems plaguing people today could be solved by examining history and how societies have evolved, especially as they relate to religion and technology.

“Sometimes we make the same mistakes that have been made in the past,” Mercer said. “Anything I can do to help others is my main goal.”

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