Long Branch sixth grader competes in ‘Genius Junior’

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27 Yards teammates Anna Casto, Vivek Abraham and Summer Sesty. COURTESY OF EVANS VESTAL
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27 yards Teammates Anna Casto, Vivek Abraham and Summer Sesty compete in Genius Junior. COURTESY OF NBC
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27 Yards teammates Anna Casto, Vivek Abraham and Summer Sesty. COURTESY OF EVANS VESTAL
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27 yards Teammates Anna Casto, Vivek Abraham and Summer Sesty compete in Genius Junior. COURTESY OF NBC

LONG BRANCH–From spelling complex words to solving math equations, sixth-grade student Summer Sesty of Long Branch will compete on the NBC TV show “Genius Junior.”

Neil Patrick Harris is the host to the new game show “Genius Junior,” which celebrates the brightest children in America.

This one-hour competition series is the ultimate test of intelligence and endurance. Twelve teams of the most incredible children in the country, ages 8 to 12, will take the stage to compete in a series of increasingly complex quizzes with the goal of being crowned Genius Junior, according to a prepared statement from NBC.

“A year ago, when I was first trying out to get on ‘Genius Junior’, I never would have thought I would be on this show with kids from all over the country that enjoyed learning as much as I do. I made lifelong friendships. It has been a opportunity of a lifetime,” 11-year-old Summer said.

The winning team will take home a “Genius Junior” grant that will set the stage for a big and bright future that lies ahead, according to a prepared statement from NBC.

Summer, who attends Long Branch Middle School, said she first learned about the show in March 2017, because a friend of her mother’s sent a link with an application for “Genius Junior”.

“We decided as a family to fill out the application. We thought, ‘Why not? This could be a wonderful opportunity for me,'” Summer said.

Summer will compete as part of a three-person team called “27 Yards,” she said.

The show airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on NBC. Summer first appeared on the show on April 29 and passed the first round with her team.

“Winning the first episode was so exciting, because … being on ‘Genius Junior’ was amazing, but then when you win [on] the show it’s just like, ‘Oh my gosh, I just won a episode of Genius Junior,” Summer said. “It is that little realization moment, like, oh my gosh and then moving on to the next round is so exciting. … Nobody else except for those 35 other kids will ever be able to say that they were on ‘Genius Junior.'”

After passing the first round, Summer and her teammates will be moving on to the semifinals, which will air at 8 p.m. on May 13.

“27 Yards came from the saying ‘the whole nine yards’. There are three members of our team, so if you multiply nine by three you get 27 – that is how we got 27 Yards. My teammates’ names are as follows: Anna Casto, she is from North Carolina, and Vivek Abraham is from Illinois,” Summer said.

The average adult relies on Google maps to get them to their destination, their calculator for simple math problems and auto-correct for spelling errors. What if they had to memorize the entire U.S. highway system, do mind-bending math equations or spell complex words, backwards, all on their own? What if they had to do this against the clock? The talented “Genius Junior” cast members will tackle these and other challenging scenarios, according to a prepared statement from NBC.

Summer said being on “‘Genius Junior’ was the opportunity of a lifetime, because only 36 kids got picked out of thousands of applicants; so being one of those 36 is such an honor. I am so happy that I got picked to be one of those 36 because that is really a small fraction of people that applied. I think it is just so amazing that I was one of the people to get picked.”

Over four rounds, with each round tougher than the last, teams of three will have to work together to beat the competition. Each episode’s winning team will then get to take on “The Cortex,” which is the toughest test of smarts on the planet, to build up their prize fund. It’s not enough to win a spelling bee, be a mathlete or even a memory champion, to win “Genius Junior” you have to be brilliant at everything, according to a prepared statement from NBC.

“My absolute favorite [category] is the Human GPS because I just love the way that you can navigate yourself around in your head, the whole concept of that section. I love to just think sometimes in my head and I’ll just start, ‘First you go here and then you go here. It’s just like a little process in my head.

During the Human GPS category, contestants were tasked with recalling specific geographical information from the maps they studied. With help from a 3D map, contestants had to navigate around the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research complex, and recall where certain sections of the museum are located.

“My photographic memory helped me a lot because I was able to remember a picture of the museum, which helped me remember it, which really made the whole thing fun. It is a lot more fun when you are really good at it because that was my favorite thing to do. Navigating around the area, it was just so fun. I don’t know why,” Summer said.

Summer said she has written 15 book manuscripts.

“When I was young, I was somewhat fond of writing, and over time, my love for writing grew. A few of my manuscripts are titled as follows: ‘Savior’, ‘The Secrets of the Ranch’, ‘The Museum of Magic’ and ‘The Disappearance of Dakota Fairfield’. They are children’s books, mostly fiction genre, aimed at kids [ages] 8 to 12,” Summer said.

Summer said fiction writing is like a bridge from reality to fantasy.

“Writing – it lets me get submerged in the story, the characters, the plot and every twist and turn along the way. When I write, I usually don’t know how the story will end because the characters and the plot develop in my head as I go,” Summer said.

Summer competed against kids from all over the world in a poetry contest and her haiku was published internationally. Summer is extremely organized and obsessed with details, but for someone so meticulous, she loves to let loose with gymnastics, according to a prepared statement from NBC.

“I have been doing gymnastics for six-and-a-half years, and I have been competing for two years at Ace Gymnastics in Ocean Township. I love that gymnastics is a unique sport; it is mental and physical,” Summer said. “I love the challenges of competing. I love the feeling of flying through the air, which is a component for every event. Overall, it’s a really fun sport.”

For more information about Genius Junior visit www.nbc.com/genius-junior?nbc=1.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.