Brooks Hallin cannot leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Still, Hallin, 17, might remind you of Superman, with all his amazing abilities.

A clean-cut kid who could be Clark Kent's younger brother, Hallin is one of the brightest students at Bozeman High School and in the nation.

This month the U.S. Department of Education chose him from among 3 million U.S. high school seniors for a select group of 141 U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Created in 1964, the Presidential Scholar award honors graduating high school seniors with "the promise of greatness."

"I feel real honored," Hallin said after school this week at the Community Food Co-op. "I've worked hard throughout my education. It feels real rewarding. I still can't believe it. And going to Princeton."

The Presidential Scholar honor is based on Hallin's test scores, straight-A grades, top scores on his college-level Advanced Placement tests, teaching himself a semester of calculus, plus his church and community service and his essays.

In addition to being a stellar student, Hallin competes on the varsity soccer team and Icedogs hockey club team, plays trombone in the school jazz band, and is vice president of the Leo Club, which holds fun events like turkey bowling to raise money for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank and other good causes.

Although the honor carries no money, the winners will be flown to Washington, D.C., in June and receive a medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House.

Bozeman High hasn't had a Presidential Scholar in 10 years, said high school counselor Larry Bittner. This year's female student winner for Montana was Allison Ray of Helena High School.

Physics teacher Jerry Reisig said Hallin, although only a junior then, "shined" in his AP physics class. Reisig also said Hallin failed to mention another big honor. He was named the Montana winner of the 2009 Siemens Foundation Award for Advanced Placement, for earning the most top scores of 5 on national AP science and math exams.

"He's the only kid I've ever had get 100 on my (AP physics) final," Reisig said. "He's a sweetheart of a kid. Well-liked, humble, really a super-polite kid, very smart, analytical."

Hallin said he chose Reisig as his most influential teacher, so Reisig gets to attend events in Washington and receive a Teacher Recognition Award.

Born and raised in Bozeman, Hallin said he got a great education in Bozeman schools, starting at Hawthorne Elementary. He grew up hiking and camping with his family, ski racing and enjoying the outdoors.

At Bozeman High, Hallin has taken eight AP classes, in government, microeconomics, calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, U.S. history and psychology.

Hallin was accepted at several colleges, but likes Princeton University for its physics and engineering programs and generous financial aid offer, worth about $30,000 a year toward the $50,000 annual cost.

The older of two boys, Hallin said his parents are Barney Hallin, a land surveyor, and Sheryl Hallin, who serves as treasurer for several organizations, including their church, First Presbyterian.

In one of his essays, Hallin wrote about last summer's church mission trip to Skagway, Alaska, to help rebuild a church and conduct Bible summer school classes.

"I like to go and help other people and feel closer to God," he said.

Hallin is not sure what he wants to do in his future, but he would like to discover new things and discover "who I am."

"I think technology is the wave of the future," Hallin said. "I want to discover a new widget or new energy source that's going to help us."

Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.