Teachers and administrators at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka remember former student Aaron Swartz as extremely intelligent and curious. Swartz, an Internet activist, co-creator of social news website Reddit and founder of Demand Progress, was found dead in an apparent suicide on Friday in his apartment in Brooklyn. He was 26.
Swartz grew up in Highland Park and attended North Shore Country Day School through 9th grade.
“He was a very creative boy and a very clever and bright child,” said Pam Whalley, head of lower school. “He was always engaged in school work. He loved … the creative opportunities he had here.”
Whalley also noted that Swartz demonstrated the ability to tackle complex problems at a young age.
“He was always very clever in how he approached things,” Whalley said.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, as a student Swartz especially excelled in math and science.
“When he was in 8th grade, he was brilliant,” said Larry Block, his 8th grade science teacher. “He wasn’t really a kid when others were a kid. He was beyond and, in terms of technology, he was beyond by far.”
Block noted that Swartz especially enjoyed practical applications and hands-on experiments, and was always asking questions.
“When you teach science, some students just kind of go with the flow, and others really kind of question how and why things work – he was definitely at a higher intellectual level, and very curious about the world around him,” Block said.
In a statement, the school said: "North Shore Country Day School is shocked and saddened at the loss of Aaron Swartz '04. ... Our thoughts and heartfelt sympathy go out to his family, his classmates and his friends."
Swartz’s family and friends set up a website — rememberaaronsw.com — for anyone to share their memories, thoughts and feelings. The website was, appropriately, made using some of the many software programs that Swartz helped to create.
His funeral is Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Central Avenue Synagogue in Highland Park.