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@School: Jordan and Taylor Ladd

May 31, 2009 — When asked that predictable and annoying adult question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" 12-year-old Taylor Ladd ticks off a fairly typical list: actress, newscaster, architect. But then she adds, "Professional basketball player."
Cricket, cricket. (That's teen-speak for awkward silence.)
Professional basketball player? She doesn't play basketball. She has never played basketball!
"But I've always wanted to," she says, conceding it's a bit of a fantasy. "I'm tall and I can throw a ball, so …."
Such is the outlook that drives Taylor Ladd, whose last name is synonymous with high achievement, both at Antilles School and throughout the territory.
At the school's 2008 end-of-year academic awards ceremony, a humorous cry eventually arose from the audience: "Taylor — just stay up there!"
Her name would be called and she would climb the stairs to the stage, shake hands, take her award and climb down, only to climb up and down — again and again.
"Oh yeah," her math teacher, Michele Garcia, recalls with a laugh. "The Taylor Ladd Show."
The year before it was the same thing, but substitute the name Jordan for Taylor. Her 14-year old brother had "been there — done that" the previous year.
A remarkable innate intelligence and lust for learning mean they're both consistently on the high honor roll and consistently earning academic recognition from Johns Hopkins University. Jordan is the territory's first-ever three-time national participant in the middle school Math Counts competition. At that level, he was the top scorer on his team this year. The previous two years, he was tied for first place.
Taylor, who also participated in the Math Counts team at the state level last year, went on to the national competition this year, and she won first place in the St. Thomas-St. John district spelling bee this year. Taylor acts, sings, plays violin and is a competitive sailor. Jordan competes in tennis and plays soccer. But none of their accomplishments seems to have gone to their heads. They are genuinely respected and liked — maybe even adored — by teachers and peers alike.
"Ah! (Faculty members) love both of them," says Garcia, Taylor's seventh-grade advisor. "We always joke that we want to clone them. I think I actually put that on Taylor's report card one time."
One of Jordan's classmates observed that kids as smart as the Ladds could easily be regarded as geeks.
"But Jordan and Taylor are not regarded that way at all," Isabelle Teare explains. "They're just so nice that everybody is friends with them."
The Ladd family came to St. Thomas in 2003, chucking aside a homogeneous, financially driven, suburban Connecticut setting in favor of the slower-paced, culturally diverse St. Thomas as the place to raise their children.
"Sometimes your prime earning years are your prime parenting years," says Jim Ladd, who, along with his wife, Ariane, founded a highly successful mortgage brokerage in Connecticut, then sold it at its peak so they could devote full time to their children. The decision prompted raised eyebrows from friends.
"When's enough enough?" Jim continues. "If work is a means to an end and you can choose something more important than work, why not?"
The fact that Jim and Ariane had the financial wherewithal to make such a decision says something additional about their children. They want for nothing, yet just try to find a chip on their shoulders.
"He's so humble," explains Sonya Swan, Jordan's eighth-grade advisor. "That is such a beautiful part of him. He could be arrogant and haughty, but he's not. He's humble."
"Self-motivated" is how Jordan would describe it.
"I guess I feel like I don't need to show off," he says. "When I do well, I'm happy for myself."
With thick auburn hair atop a palette of freckles, Jordan is the shy super-achiever. Taylor, whose sparkling self-assuredness prompts a constant smile, is more aggressive. They're a complementary team.
"There are brothers and sisters that don't want anything to do with each other — just the mention of the name is annoying," Swan says. "But they seem like they get along famously. They're each other's cheerleader."
Their mutual respect is coupled with a high premium placed on manners.
"Manners are your ticket to the world," says Ariane, who has a warm, earnest way with people. Her husband is forever clowning. If you get tapped on the shoulder from behind and turn to discover no one there, chances are it's Jim Ladd, standing at the opposite shoulder, ready to say hello.
Resolutely easygoing, the pair has managed to pass along a similar sensibility to their children. The kids seem to float through life, for the most part, relaxed. Rather than simply answering to set of rules, Jordan and Taylor are, more often than not, encouraged to inform themselves and make their own decisions. There are family meetings, lots of one-on-one time with their parents, discussions and books.
While they may not realize it now, Ariane said she knows life will eventually present more than the academic challenges her children thrive on. She's hopeful that the many privileges and experiences they enjoy will gird them to rise to the occasion. And just to make sure, she infuses them with a host of mantras that Taylor, in describing her life, can't help but conjure.
"And here's another one," she eagerly spouts, finger on cheek, tapping as she tries to recall. "Wait, wait, wait. Oh yeah! 'With great privilege comes great responsibility.'"
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May 31, 2009 -- When asked that predictable and annoying adult question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" 12-year-old Taylor Ladd ticks off a fairly typical list: actress, newscaster, architect. But then she adds, "Professional basketball player."
Cricket, cricket. (That's teen-speak for awkward silence.)
Professional basketball player? She doesn't play basketball. She has never played basketball!
"But I've always wanted to," she says, conceding it's a bit of a fantasy. "I'm tall and I can throw a ball, so ...."
Such is the outlook that drives Taylor Ladd, whose last name is synonymous with high achievement, both at Antilles School and throughout the territory.
At the school's 2008 end-of-year academic awards ceremony, a humorous cry eventually arose from the audience: "Taylor -- just stay up there!"
Her name would be called and she would climb the stairs to the stage, shake hands, take her award and climb down, only to climb up and down -- again and again.
"Oh yeah," her math teacher, Michele Garcia, recalls with a laugh. "The Taylor Ladd Show."
The year before it was the same thing, but substitute the name Jordan for Taylor. Her 14-year old brother had "been there -- done that" the previous year.
A remarkable innate intelligence and lust for learning mean they're both consistently on the high honor roll and consistently earning academic recognition from Johns Hopkins University. Jordan is the territory's first-ever three-time national participant in the middle school Math Counts competition. At that level, he was the top scorer on his team this year. The previous two years, he was tied for first place.
Taylor, who also participated in the Math Counts team at the state level last year, went on to the national competition this year, and she won first place in the St. Thomas-St. John district spelling bee this year. Taylor acts, sings, plays violin and is a competitive sailor. Jordan competes in tennis and plays soccer. But none of their accomplishments seems to have gone to their heads. They are genuinely respected and liked -- maybe even adored -- by teachers and peers alike.
"Ah! (Faculty members) love both of them," says Garcia, Taylor's seventh-grade advisor. "We always joke that we want to clone them. I think I actually put that on Taylor's report card one time."
One of Jordan's classmates observed that kids as smart as the Ladds could easily be regarded as geeks.
"But Jordan and Taylor are not regarded that way at all," Isabelle Teare explains. "They're just so nice that everybody is friends with them."
The Ladd family came to St. Thomas in 2003, chucking aside a homogeneous, financially driven, suburban Connecticut setting in favor of the slower-paced, culturally diverse St. Thomas as the place to raise their children.
"Sometimes your prime earning years are your prime parenting years," says Jim Ladd, who, along with his wife, Ariane, founded a highly successful mortgage brokerage in Connecticut, then sold it at its peak so they could devote full time to their children. The decision prompted raised eyebrows from friends.
"When's enough enough?" Jim continues. "If work is a means to an end and you can choose something more important than work, why not?"
The fact that Jim and Ariane had the financial wherewithal to make such a decision says something additional about their children. They want for nothing, yet just try to find a chip on their shoulders.
"He's so humble," explains Sonya Swan, Jordan's eighth-grade advisor. "That is such a beautiful part of him. He could be arrogant and haughty, but he's not. He's humble."
"Self-motivated" is how Jordan would describe it.
"I guess I feel like I don't need to show off," he says. "When I do well, I'm happy for myself."
With thick auburn hair atop a palette of freckles, Jordan is the shy super-achiever. Taylor, whose sparkling self-assuredness prompts a constant smile, is more aggressive. They're a complementary team.
"There are brothers and sisters that don't want anything to do with each other -- just the mention of the name is annoying," Swan says. "But they seem like they get along famously. They're each other's cheerleader."
Their mutual respect is coupled with a high premium placed on manners.
"Manners are your ticket to the world," says Ariane, who has a warm, earnest way with people. Her husband is forever clowning. If you get tapped on the shoulder from behind and turn to discover no one there, chances are it's Jim Ladd, standing at the opposite shoulder, ready to say hello.
Resolutely easygoing, the pair has managed to pass along a similar sensibility to their children. The kids seem to float through life, for the most part, relaxed. Rather than simply answering to set of rules, Jordan and Taylor are, more often than not, encouraged to inform themselves and make their own decisions. There are family meetings, lots of one-on-one time with their parents, discussions and books.
While they may not realize it now, Ariane said she knows life will eventually present more than the academic challenges her children thrive on. She's hopeful that the many privileges and experiences they enjoy will gird them to rise to the occasion. And just to make sure, she infuses them with a host of mantras that Taylor, in describing her life, can't help but conjure.
"And here's another one," she eagerly spouts, finger on cheek, tapping as she tries to recall. "Wait, wait, wait. Oh yeah! 'With great privilege comes great responsibility.'"
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.