Sara Emma Kay
Grade 6
Punahou School

Are you sure the Jackson you know is the real Jackson?

If you asked Agent Brand or Ruby what kind of person they first thought Jackson was, you would get different responses! Even my first perception of Jackson was not positive. After all, he was picking on the geeks and misfits; anyone potentially gullible. In short, Jackson was behaving like the typical school bully. However, that may not necessarily be who Jackson really is. Therefore, I chose the “Jackson Becomes a NERD scene” from pages 70 – 89 because sometimes people are not who you think they are.

In the early chapters, even Agent Brand and Ruby had opposing perspectives of Jackson. While Agent Brand was deeply convinced with Jackson’s potential as a NERD, Ruby protested heavily about Jackson’s appointment as a NERD. I understood how Ruby felt. How would you feel if a school bully who had constantly tormented you and your friends for being smart was now joining your team for gifted and talented people? However, the impact Jackson had on trand and Ruby’s lives may help us discover a side of Jackson that we, as readers, may have missed. Jackson had initially expressed his reservations about joining the team of “wheezing, whiny, misfits” because “joining the group would mean giving up on ever being popular again” (p.78). Furthermore, Jackson displayed his arrogance when he said that the nerds “would be honored to hang out with a kid like him” (p.86). Nonetheless, in the later chapters, we discover Jackson’s humility when he expressed feeling lost after he left the team. He found it “impossible to slip back into the routine” and kept “looking for the nerds at school” (p.238). These feelings displayed Jackson’s strong sense of belonging to the nerds, accepting himself as one of them.

There are also several other encounters in the book that reflected the softer side of Jackson that we were not initially aware of. For example, during their first mission in Egypt, Ruby and Agent Brand fought over Jackson’s mishaps, resulting in Jackson giving up his position for the team. Jackson’s selfless action demonstrated his core leadership values. If readers were to look back at these scenes and think harder about what they mean, there is actually more to them than they seem.

I hope fans of N.E.R.D.S. will consider more deeply about who the real Jackson is. I could personally relate to this scene because this past fall, I moved from an all girls’ school to a co-ed school and had to re-adjust my way of thinking and perspectives about making new friends. Even though Jackson was a popular and athletic student, the contrary to the geeks and misfits, he ended up forming close bonds with the nerds. Likewise, Ruby and the other team members accepted Jackson after they got to know him better. All along, the real Jackson was just waiting for a chance to come out. Like Jackson, with time, I’ve become part of the “ohana” in my new school.