Junior James Aidala immerses himself in a sea of interests


Pick any form of science or humanities, and odds are, junior James Aidala probably knows something about it. With a multitude of interests in the two fields (including debate, public speaking, geology, biotechnology, earth science, politics, and even ancient sword-fighting), James revels in the ability to learn and absorb. James has strived to immerse himself in as much as possible and, as a result, has found himself very involved in many opportunities offered at FHC.

One of the first organizations that James found himself apart of was debate team. After he and his parents met the debate advisor at an event, James learned more about debate and its concepts and was immediately interested. The coach recommended he get involved, and thus, his dedication to debate was born. James has been debating since his freshman year, and currently, he is co-captain.

“The class of logics is my favorite thing about debate,” James said. “It’s a very healthy thing for people to exercise, like trying to think critically. [It’s important to] see things from one way versus another or seeing it from two different viewpoints. You’re either trying to come to a compromise or just saying ‘no, you’re wrong’ but with evidence this time.”

James was able to utilize his debate skills in a club that combined his passions for public speaking and politics: Model United Nations. Since joining, he’s learned skills in a first-hand setting, such as speaking in front of large groups, working with people he doesn’t know, and separating needed versus unneeded information. Above all, since joining Model UN his sophomore year, James has mastered how to research, think critically, and speak fast.

“Doing research about any international policy is fun for me, and it should be for everyone too,” James said. “At the competitions, you get to apply everything you’ve learned while also using policy and interaction skills. You get to work as a group with people you don’t know while making friends, having fun, and all that. You get a full experience.”

While he isn’t able to put his public speaking skills to use in Science Olympiad, James still holds a very strong devotion to the club. Joining his freshman year, he was drawn to study fossils, and since, he’s held a strong geological focus. Within his large bubble of geological expertise lies concepts such as subgroupings of silicates, settings and uses for every rock, and mineral habitats.

“I like how in-depth Science Olympiad goes into all the subjects and how wide range it is,” James said. “In geology, [I’m interested in] the scale and the scope of what happens. There are so many unique conditions that can occur. Keep in mind, we’re talking about the entire Earth here.”

Though he focuses more on earth sciences rather than technology in Science Olympiad, James gets his dose of computer science from being a member of the robotics club. Though it’s a huge commitment and another large load on his plate, it brings him enjoyment rather than stress. He’s found huge success with the club and, though different from many of his other interests, robotics fascinates James.

“My brother was a die-hard member of robotics, so I thought it would be fun and went into it,” James said. “It’s pretty interesting because it is time and labor intensive, but it teaches you a lot of good skills and how to work in a group. The competitions are something else, in a good way. You get a bunch nerds together in one area, and it’s all uphill from there.”

On top of his commitments to debate, Model UN, Science Olympiad, and robotics, James still found time to start his own club: Politics and Current Events (PACE). During his freshman year, he was a member of a similar club run by seniors. After the seniors graduated, James decided to restart the club himself, with the help of graduated senior Francesca Duong. While running the club can be a lot of work, James finds content in the success that ensues from allowing everyone to express their opinions and giving everyone a political voice.

“I do appreciate getting people’s opinions on the issue and trying to get as many perspectives on it,” James said. “We’re trying to come to solutions and raise actual awareness of what’s going on in the world, since there is, to my eye, an acute lack of such knowledge and awareness, especially in this time of disillusionment.”

With almost half a dozen commitments to clubs at FHC, James has to work extremely hard to manage his time to keep up with his extracurriculars and the workload from his challenging schedule. However, it’s more than worth it for him because his dedication has shaped him into the knowledgeable and passionate person he his. Additionally, in terms of his future, all of his obligations have opened many doors for possible career paths. Wherever he goes in the future, he’s determined to end up in a career that fills him with fire and spirit.

“[My future is] a resonance structure, for all you AP chem people,” James said. “It’s among Poli-science, Biotech, and Earth Science right now. Sometimes, you just don’t know what you’re going into until you get there.”