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When Being a Nerd is ‘More Than OK’

Being a “nerd” at Comstock Park High School is about doing what you enjoy, taking pride in being smart and sharing quirky passions with others.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” said freshman Aidan Martin, a member of the new Nerd Herd, for which 51 students and staff members don T-shirts proclaiming, “Be a Nerd, Join the Herd!”

Started by teachers Dave Staublin — “the math guy,” and Steve Virkstis — “the science guy,” the herd is a way to celebrate all things some might find nerdy, from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to Star Wars, to comic books and anime, whatever the interest may be.

Teachers Dave Staublin and Steve Virkstis recruit students to the Nerd Herd
Teachers Dave Staublin and Steve Virkstis recruit students to the Nerd Herd

The pair said they were surprised at how many students and staff members were interested in joining.

“It was a tongue-and-cheek thing at first to promote the academic side of school,” Virkstis said. All the sports teams have T-shirts, so why not celebrate students with other hobbies?

The herd plans to meet every couple weeks to do something “nerdy.”

“We want to hang out and make it OK,” Staublin said. “There are kids who want to embrace this and be a part of something when they might not be involved in anything else at school. It’s another opportunity, another way to connect.”

Added Virkstis: “It’s OK to be smart and interested in science or technology or math and think about those things. It’s more than OK. It’s fun.”

“Those with the nerd shirts are going to be the ones everyone else is working for someday,” — math teacher Dave Staublin

So they’re letting their nerd flag fly. The school has also started Programming Club and Esports Club, geared toward computer-savvy students and gamers.

“I love knowing things.” said Aidan, a student and athlete who also loves the television program “Twilight Zone.” “The more you know, the better off you are. I like to know the answers.”

So instead of laughing at people like ’90s TV nerd Steve Urkel, embrace the concept, the teachers said.

“Those with the nerd shirts are going to be the ones everyone else is working for someday,” Staublin said.


It’s Cool to Be a Nerd

Teachers Dave Staublin and Steve Virskstis check out a Star Wars spacecraft, held by freshman Aidan Martin
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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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