Terrific Teens: Alturas Prep junior an aspiring crisis negotiator with love for music, history - East Idaho News
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Terrific Teens: Alturas Prep junior an aspiring crisis negotiator with love for music, history

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IDAHO FALLS — Geordie Van Witbeck is a junior at Alturas Preparatory Academy. His dream is to work as a crisis negotiator, helping others out of trying situations.

Van Witbeck is a member of Alturas’ International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB Diploma) Programme. The IB program, he said, provides him with an educational opportunity he knows most people will never have, and he wants to take full advantage of it.

Asked if there are any specific courses he focuses on as part of the program, Van Witbeck said: “There are certain classes that I work harder on than others, but that’s due to interest.”

A self-described “musical person,” Van Witbeck said music is one of those courses.

“Everyday, I have this little radio station in my head just playing my favorite tunes,” he told EastIdahoNews.com.

Van Witbeck plays multiple instruments, most recently taking up the drums, with an emphasis on classic rock. He named the bands AC/DC, Guns ‘n Roses and Metallica, but said the band Led Zeppelin “holds a special place in my heart.”

Every trimester, he said, the class holds a concert for the parents of the students. Last year, Van Witbeck learned Led Zeppelin’s ‘Black Dog’ on the guitar in just a month and played it at the concert.

History is another class in which Van Witbeck takes special interest and says he spends a lot of time pondering on the intersection of history and music — Jimi Hendrix’s influence on the music world, how moving to the U.S. affected The Beatles’ sound, and the cultural impacts on music in the 70s and 80s.

Asked if he sees music as a potential career path, Van Witbeck said:

“I honestly don’t think I’m experienced enough for that — and I don’t think I’ll really ever be. I do music more as a hobby than anything.”

But, he added, music is something he will keep close and could see a future in which he redirects from his current plans to join a band.

That current plan? “I really want to be a crisis negotiator for the FBI, even though I don’t really look like that kind of guy.”

Van Witbeck said he took a MasterClass course, offered by former FBI crisis negotiator Chris Voss, and has dreamed of pursuing that as a career since.

“When I finished (the course), it was about 50 minutes, I just sat there for a moment and I was like, ‘Whoa, I technically have all the tools to save a person in a hostage crisis or suicide crisis,'” he said.

He explained that the job is all about the proper combination of basic tools — likening it to the rudimentary combination of circles and squares that make the Mona Lisa.

“It’s the power of words,” Van Witbeck. … “There’s something so magical about getting people to do things by just saying a couple words.”

While he has an idea of what he wants to do down the road, Van Witbeck’s plans for the years that follow high school are less clear. He has not yet decided on a college, but expects his search will intensify this summer.