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North Augusta student wins Best and Brightest

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It was never the recognition or applause that pushed Daniel Pip­pen to spend his high school career volunteering and working for academic honors.

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North Augusta High senior Daniel Pippen rises to receive the Best and Brightest honor from The Augusta Chronicle. The 18-year-old is active in many groups and plans to study chemical engineering in college.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
North Augusta High senior Daniel Pippen rises to receive the Best and Brightest honor from The Augusta Chronicle. The 18-year-old is active in many groups and plans to study chemical engineering in college.

His goal wasn’t to be better than anyone else or earn bragging rights.

So, after he was named The Augus­ta Chronicle’s Best and Brightest 2013 winner, the realization that his four years of hard work at North Augusta High School had not gone unnoticed was overwhelming.

“Out of all the finalists, for them to choose me, I just couldn’t believe it,” said Pippen, 18. “I’m always a happy guy, but this had me floored.”

Pippen and 20 other finalists were honored Thursday for being some of the highest-achieving high school seniors in the Augusta area at the 11th annual Best and Brightest Awards banquet. The 21 finalists were selected from almost 100 applications, and three judges narrowed the pool to five.

Judges scored each student on volunteer work, academic achievements, leadership and a five-minute interview.

Andrew Hendrix, the admissions director for the University of South Carolina Aiken, said all the finalists have something that makes them unique, but judges are looking for that special spark.

“It’s not easy for us, and they all bring something to the table,” Hendrix said. “But Daniel, he’s just a great all-around person.”

Pippen, who won $1,000 along with the title, said supportive parents and brothers helped him stay active in varsity football and track, Beta Club, Interact Club, the Make-A-Wish Foun­dation, homeless outreach and dozens of other activities while keeping up with his Ad­vanced Placement classes.

He will attend the Uni­versity of Michigan to study chemical engineering, a field he’s been interested in since he began reciting mathematical operations as a toddler.

Other seniors nominated were varsity athletes, musicians, Eagle Scouts, soup kitchen volunteers, soon-to-be law school students and future military members.

The 2012 Best and Brigh­test winner, Gordon Nail Jr., a Swainsboro High graduate who now attends Geor­gia Tech, shared some words of wisdom with the seniors.

By the end of his freshman year of college, Nail said, he realized it is natural and expected to run into a mental wall, even for those whose success is second nature. Still, all the struggles that students find at the beginning of their college experience will only set them up to learn and grow, he said.

“You’re going to astound yourself with what you can do,” Nail said.

Pippen said he is ready for that challenge: Bring on the hard work, the new experiences and the Michigan snow.

“I’m just excited,” he said. “You just have to have a path to follow and set your mind to it, and it will all come together.”

COMING MAY 26

Don’t miss the 2013 Best and Brightest high school graduation section in The Augusta Chronicle. Features include:

 • Profiles and photos of the 20 finalists for the Best and Brightest competition

• The area’s valedictorians and salutatorians

• Full lists of graduates from area schools

THE WINNERS

The overall winner: Daniel Pippen, of North Augusta High School, received $1,000.

The top four were each awarded $200:

• Megan Murphy, Grovetown High School

• Adam Rutkowski, Briarwood Academy

• Berhens Bass, Lincoln County High School

• Adrian Coleman, South Aiken High School


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