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For years, he went by his middle name, MacGillivray, in most circles including varsity debate, Nordquist ballroom dancing and performing with the jazz group "Jazmos." These days he's Gordon Allen who grew up in Sebastopol, where he is now a sophomore attending Analy High.

He has a reputation as a level-headed, smart and funny guy as likely to speak at a city council meeting on the merits of Wi-Fi as he is to wax poetic about his favorite food: Nutella chocolate spread.

Indeed, it was his City Council speech that drew the attention of Sonic.net chief executive Dane Jasper and won him a paid summer internship at the Santa Rosa Internet service provider.

"He is a very bright young man with a lot of energy, and we enjoyed working with him," Jasper said.

"It was pretty good working at Sonic," Allen said. "I worked in operations in the Wi-Fi division and worked on installing networks. It was really technical."

He thinks he was viewed as a kind of teen evangelist for Wi-Fi last summer at Sonic.net.

"I did things like compiling a list of residents that we needed because of their geographic placement," he said.

Key to the teen's success in an adult work environment was his ability to communicate well. He credits his devotion to debate and forensics.

He made the varsity debate team in his freshman year. He is his school's Lincoln-Douglas team captain this year and National Forensics League team president for the 2009-2010 year.

"This year I competed at every league tournament and I qualified for state championships," he said.

He also recently won a five-day trip to Washington, courtesy of the Veterans of Foreign Wars' Voice of Democracy national speech competition, as the state winner from California. The topic was how youth benefit from the service and sacrifices of veterans.

To be chosen as state winner he first had to nail the local VFW post, district, and state competitions.

He spoke about the right to dissent.

"It is the essence of patriotism. Our veterans secured that right for us," said Allen.

His speech may not have been what the veterans expected. In it, the teen told of talking to a cousin who had served in Iraq and deciding that he would never serve similarly.

"I don't think it was what people expected. Half the room of 400 easily were still on active duty," he said.

That performance paved the way for a Washington tour with other state winners.

"It was such a wonderful trip. It was incredible," he said.

Walking along the National Mall and seeing all the things he had only seen on TV was very moving to him.

"We took a tour of the White House and we visited the Holocaust Museum, which was heart-wrenching because it was so very well done," he said.

Back at school, Allen was recently elected as Associated Student Body board representative, the student voice at the School Board.

He has a 4.29 grade point average and is one of the co-founders of the Atheist and Agnostic Club at his school with his friend Gabriel Wheaton, 16.

"All we really wanted to do is talk about our beliefs outside of restrictive parameters," said the teen. "I do what's right because it's right, not because it will get me into heaven or that there is a giant security camera in the sky."

He has played violin since age 4, currently playing an electric version in "Jazmos" which fuses jazz and Scottish fiddle.

He loves dancing and won a swing competition in seventh grade. On Tuesday nights, he is a junior dance instructor at Nordquist. Rumor has it he looks swell in a white dinner jacket. At the most recent Jack & Jill competition he and a partner picked from a hat won the competition, which is improvisational.

He claims he's noisy and "a cut-up" in class despite his serious tone elsewhere.

His heroes include Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr. and Levi Leipheimer. He'll likely grow up to be a criminal trial attorney, he said. His parents just want him to be happy.

"Insofar as . . . I have excellent grades and am generally responsible, I'm granted a nice level of autonomy from my parents," he said.

-- Rayne Wolfe