El Molino junior Jesse Fichman, 17, says his dream job would involve being out in nature. Press Democrat photo by Kent Porter

By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Incoming El Molino High School senior Jesse Fichman is a multitalented guy.
An excellent student whose grade point average hovers around the 4.0 mark, Fichman also plays basketball, volleyball and soccer for the Lions.
But Fichman’s true passion is music and nature.
A guitarist for the bluegrass band The Mighty Chiplings, Fichman and his bandmates can be seen on local stages jamming to songs made famous by the likes of Doc Watson.
A stellar student with a keen interest in science, Fichman has again ignited a campaign to raise funds to pay for an Advanced Placement chemistry class that was not scheduled for the upcoming school year because of low enrollment and tight budgets.
Fichman and fellow Lion Kindy Connally-Stewart are planning to mail solicitation letters to area companies and are searching for applicable grants.
“It’s a great class,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to learn and be in a good learning environment with committed students.”
Fichman has been down this road before.
El Molino Principal Doria Trombetta said Fichman was one of the students two years ago who successfully raised funds to support the school’s award-winning biotechnology program.
“He’s a really great person and an excellent student,” she said, adding Fichman is active in campus leadership and athletic programs.
Fichman recently returned from a two-week stay in Costa Rica with fellow El Molino Spanish students, learning the language and enjoying the culture.
Fichman, who is eyeing attending UC Santa Cruz after graduation, said some of his favorite activities besides playing sports and music are searching for wild mushrooms and bird watching with a friend of the family who turned him onto the activity years ago.
“When I’m out by myself, it’s just relaxing,” he said of birdwatching. “When we go out, it’s like competitive birdwatching. We get up really early and go out and compete to find as many birds as possible.”
Fichman won’t reveal his hot spots for finding the best wild fungi, saying competition for chanterelle and porcini mushrooms can get intense. And he’s always mindful of what he’s picking and eventually eating.
“I’m pretty careful,” he said. “You learn the bad ones first. You should always cook them, but even if they are not poisonous they can cause stomach upset.”

Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com.

Kindy Connally-Stewart
Name: Jesse Fichman
Age: 17
Birthplace: Santa Rosa
Lives with: Dad, David, andmom,Karen. His older sister, Alana, attends UCBerkeley.
What’s in his iPod: Neil Young, Beatles, Tom Waits
Favorite hobby: Playing sports and enjoying nature
Dream job: Something that involves being in nature
Favorite TV show: Doesn’t watch much TV
Favorite food: Watermelon
AP chemistry campaign: Anyone willing to support the effort to fund an AP chemistry class at El Molino can reach Fichman at Jfichman@earthlink.net