By MARY CALLAHAN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Plenty of folks would need Hermione Granger’s bewitched Time-Turner to pull off the scheduling feat that is Patrick Malaret’s final semester at Petaluma High School.
There’s choir, color guard, theater rehearsal and wildlife museum. Advanced Placement exams are behind him, finals lie ahead, and by the end of the week of the first week of June, he’ll be out altogether.
But Malaret, a self-described restless type, says full is exactly how he wants his plate.
“I get bored easily,” he said. “I think I’ve definitely learned a lot because of my busy schedule. I’ve picked up a whole lot of skills. I definitely wouldn’t have done it any other way.”
Malaret takes after over-achieving parents who “put up with driving me all over the place,” he said. <NO1><NO>He grew up performing in children’s theater productions, playing soccer, taking tap lessons and playing saxophone, trombone and guitar.
He also worked with younger students at Petaluma Valley Baptist Church and this year got hooked on the sport and camaraderie of color guard and winter guard, where rifles and swords are part of the routines. During the summer he will work as a camp counselor before heading off to Vanguard University in Costa Mesa.
At 18, Malaret impresses his teachers as an upbeat, bright, well-rounded kid they unanimously describe as “amazing.”
“My favorite kid in the whole universe,” said Marsi Wier, director of the Petaluma Wildlife Museum run by the students at Petaluma High School. On a lark, Malaret took Wier’s freshman wildlife management class even though he said he “was terrified of most animals.”
Now finishing his third year as a museum docent, he has an impressive knack for communicating complex information to younger children. With a commanding voice he honed onstage and a profound enthusiasm for almost anything, he treats museum visitors to a dynamic experience, Wier said.
Science Department Chairwoman Lee Boyes had him in honors chemistry last year and said Malaret was driven by his own inquisitiveness. “It was never about grades,” she said. “It was curiosity about what we were teaching him.”
Although somewhat shy, Malaret loves being on stage and finds the process of developing a play or musical particularly special.
“I love the storytelling aspect of it, really, and it’s kind of a collaborative thing,” he said. “I love the feeling when you’re with a really tight cast.”
His work at the Wildlife Museum, where students do everything from vacuuming to reptile care to writing tour scripts, has taught him to love all animals.
“He’s so well-rounded,” Boyes said. “You very seldom see a kid who is doing AP physics, honors chemistry and then is in the museum and the theater productions. Always an upbeat kid, always willing to help kids.”
That positive outlook has helped Malaret cope with a rare neurological disorder he first discovered last spring, in part because Boyes noticed his hands twitching during chemistry experiments.
After a year of testing at UC San Francisco, the source is still uncertain, he said, although the twitching has spread to all of his limbs, making it a challenge to do things like typing, tap dancing, tying laces and filling in bubbled test forms.
Malaret says his condition “hasn’t slowed me down too much.”
His teachers concur. “He’s got such a great attitude that it just makes him more determined and strong,” said Jonathan Knox, who has been directing Malaret in school theater productions for four years. “He doesn’t let it interfere with his life.”
Malaret had the lead role in this year’s school production, “It’s All Over But The Shooting,” and directed about 50 of Knox’s freshman students.
“He always has a great, happy attitude,” Knox said. “Even when you know he has so much to do, he just sucks it up and says, ‘Let’s keep going.’ ”
You can contact Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or email@example.com.
School: Petaluma High School
Lives with: His mother, Theresa O’Connor; stepfather, Rick O’Connor; and sister Katie O’Connor. His father, Ed Malaret, and stepmother, Michele Malaret, live in Richmond.
Career goal: Educator
College plans: Vanguard University in Costa Mesa next fall, with plans to major in psychology and get a multi-subject teaching credential
Summer job: Petaluma Wildlife Museum camp counselor
School activities: Petaluma Wildlife Museum docent, choir, theater productions, hip hop troupe
Hobbies: Running, playing guitar
Favorite music: “Just about everything.” Old rock. Loves singing the Lacrimosa section of Mozart’s “Requiem.”
Inspirational figure: Teachers. “They live such diverse and interesting lives. I’ve learned so much from them.”
Biggest challenge: Contending with a rare movement disorder that revealed itself last year, causing tremors and muscle twitches. Malaret is still undergoing tests at UC San Francisco to determine its cause.