“Lizard Wizard” Jaden Clark bound for Stanford

Jaden Clark’s friends often joke with him about his monotone voice and his meticulously selected register in conversation. They joke about his “circuit board overheating” on a hot day, joke about his quasi-supercomputer-level intellect, and remark that they would not be surprised if a compartment popped out of his chest and an extraterrestrial life form held out its tiny, green hand for them to shake. But all of that is just humor. The truth is, Clark, a senior bound for Stanford, is one of the most hard-working and kind students on campus, and his thirst for knowledge is not easily satiated. He is no cold-hearted robot; Clark is someone with many academic and extracurricular interests, each of which he is immensely passionate about.

Clark became interested in lizards, and the animal kingdom in general, at a particularly young age, and his interest in them has stayed with him ever since. He said that he began to “get more serious” in fifth or sixth grade to the point where, now, if he sees a reptile, the chances are he will know both its common and Latin name. Recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Clark has been running and hiking more often in the hills above Claremont. On May 19 alone, the day he was interviewed for this article, Clark was able to catch and hold two out of the five snakes he saw and identified on his hike.
At Stanford, Clark will major in engineering, which he will use to combine some of his lifelong interests.

“I’ve always liked taking apart stuff, and figuring out how the world in general works,” Clark said. “But for most of my life, I wanted to study biology. In the last three or so years, I have found that I can combine my interests in engineering and physics with biology to study biomechanics and use technology to study animals. So, that’s driven me to study engineering, and I hope to use it in a way that can benefit the study of and conservation of wildlife.”

The list of Clark’s accomplishments and extracurricular involvement goes on for an eternity: he worked at an off-campus robotics center, was part of the Common Good Tutors Club, ran cross-country and track for four years, played basketball for one year, is a member of the non-CHS-affiliated Audubon Society Pomona Valley Group, was president of Nature and Wildlife Club, and was an EIC of the Wolfpacket. He has also taken part in building a plane and done research at various colleges and universities, recently examining the lift and drag of the flying lizard species Draco volans, also known as the flying dragon.

A thoughtful leader on the Wolfpacket and on campus, Clark is widely respected by his peers, despite some joking on the part of his friends. He was even elected to homecoming court in the fall, which serves as further evidence of the respected place he holds in the campus community. In college, Clark looks forward to cheering on Cardinal athletics, continuing his running career with the Running Club, and joining other assorted clubs which he finds intriguing. Given the current uncertainty about the 2020-2021 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clark is undecided about whether or not he will take a gap year. Should he decide to defer his admission, Clark will likely be funded to study sharks, turtles, lizards, or snakes abroad. After college, Clark plans to work in the tech industry for around four years before getting his PhD and becoming a professor. Although his senior year was cut short due to coronavirus, Clark’s impact on Claremont High will surely stand the test of time.