Morgantown 7-year-old admitted into Mensa, world’s celebrated high-IQ club

MORGANTOWN — Seamus Smith is only 7 years old, but he’s already smarter than you.

At the ripe age of 2, he was counting to 100, while putting words and number-sequences together with the toy blocks that went everywhere he did.

He started reading chapter books at about that same time.

Don’t think for a synapse, though, that the Morgantown youngster is bragging.

However, his mom and dad, Shannon and Michael Smith might be, just a little.

But they’re allowed.

Their kid just made Mensa, the world’s celebrated high-IQ club.

Smart numbers

Today, the club founded in Britain in 1946 boasts more than 130,000 members worldwide, from “high school dropouts to people with multiple doctorates,” according to Mensa International.

Seamus is now in the same Mensa company as actress Geena Davis, Skyy vodka creator Maurice Kanbar and former Ford Motor chairman Donald Peterson, who was involved in the development of the company’s iconic Mustang car.

He’s also Member No. 115 of Vandalia Mensa, the West Virginia chapter that takes in  nearly the whole of the Mountain State, save for the northern and eastern panhandles.

Admittance is gained  by scores in the 98th percentile of the official Mensa test or any other recognized accounting of cognitive ability.

The qualifying IQ for Mensa membership is 130. Most Mensans are between 20 and 60 years of age.

Shannon Smith preferred not to disclose her son’s IQ or other scores on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children that were his ticket in.

“He did do better than that 98th percentile,” she said.

 Raise your hand

Shannon, a local attorney, was a self-described academic overachiever, from elementary school to law school, she said.

Michael, who teaches social studies at University High School, grinned a little when he said he wasn’t necessarily serious about his academics — until college.

Seamus, they said, has serious intellectual fun with everything he does, from reading (his favorite subject at the Morgantown Learning Academy), to his swimming lessons.

He’s also learning guitar. “I want to jam,” the budding 6-string wizard said.

Once Seamus got into organized class situations, Shannon could see that he stood out a bit.

“Before, we just thought every 2-year-old was like that,” she said. “We don’t spend a lot of time telling him he’s ‘smart,’ but we knew he was different.”

“We never pushed him into anything,” Michael said.

As a teacher himself, he does catch himself studying his kid, more often than not.

“It’s interesting to watch how he learns,” he said.

 Nothing like a good book

Seamus, with a grin, poked his head up at that point. Before, he  wasn’t listening, as his nose was previously in the middle of a “Minecraft” book. “Burrowed,” might be more like it.

“Oh, yeah, he zones out,” his mom said. “Total focus.”

Because a Mensa membership could mean professional opportunity later in life, Shannon and Michael said they submitted those test scores just to see.

Fred Spicer, a Mensan from Bridgeport who is the administrator of the Vandalia Mensa Facebook page, was thinking the same 15 years ago.

That’s when Spicer, who works as a systems analyst for a utility company plugged into the Mensa test.

He took the test (not online), with its forehead-scrunching  math and word problems,  then sat back and waited.

“I was curious to see if I could actually qualify,” he said. “It was  exciting when I did, I have to admit.”

In his living room last Thursday, Seamus said he was excited for the weekend. That’s when his parents let him blow off steam with TV, the iPad, the whole bit.

“That’s the only time I get to do electronics,” he said.

In like Flynn

There may be something to that: Mensa and the mixed-media mandates in the Smith household.

A Norwegian study released earlier this month showed an overall seven-point IQ drop among a group of male test subjects born between 1962 and 1991 who had been charted over the years for the research effort.

The subjects born after 1975 were the ones with the most diminished scores.

Those findings contradict the cognitive uptick of higher IQ scores in Britain following the rebuilding after World War II.

The smart wave then was named the “Flynn Effect” after James Flynn, the researcher who launched that study.

Flynn told reporters last week that young people are “getting dumber,” in part, because technology —  phones, video games and the like —  is getting smarter.

In the meantime,  you may be enjoying the latest whiz-bang gadget a few years from now courtesy of a certain Mensan from the Mountain State.

“I want to be an inventor,” Seamus said.

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