The names are different. The fresh faces change. Their stories, every one of them inspiring and humbling, are brand new episodes of achievement and virtue every year.
The one constant, The Chronicle has found in honoring the Best and Brightest of Augusta-area seniors the past 11 years, is the formula.
It’s all about the adults.
Every one of these teenage academic and humanitarian role models is a product of the parents, teachers and other mentors in their lives.
We take note of this today – including in a special section elsewhere in today’s paper – in large part to congratulate those parents and other youth leaders. They have already left this place better than they found it, by doing their part to raise up a new generation that absolutely puts the rest of us to shame – while giving us the kind of hope that much of today’s disconcerting news cycle cannot.
The Chronicle and our Best and Brightest partner, Georgia Regents University, honored the area’s top 21 Best and Brightest at a banquet May 16. Five were selected by a panel of judges to receive special recognition and prizes, including overall winner Daniel Pippen of North Augusta High School. Daniel may have been literally born to be a chemical engineer – he was apparently reciting mathematical operations when most toddlers were trying to grasp the alphabet or anything they could lay their manic hands on.
But even he credits his parents and siblings for making his stellar high school career possible, as well as his upcoming education at the University of Michigan.
We also take note of all this to say that raising rocket scientists isn’t rocket science. It’s just good, old-fashioned sound parenting.
It’s love and discipline and guidance. Most often with some praying thrown in.
It helps being thrown into the deep end of the gene pool, certainly. But these bright young kids are more the product of love and leadership than any accident of birth. They are who they are, and where they are, because of effort, perseverance and positivity.
And that’s a function of parenting, mentoring and creating a nurturing environment in which learning, achieving and caring for others is the routine.
Consider: After being named the most outstanding student at May 16’s Best and Brightest banquet, Daniel Pippin stayed around and helped banquet organizers load up their cars.
That’s more than intelligence. It’s character.
Congratulations to all the Best and Brightest students – including the many who were considered. You’re all winners.
But so are the parents and mentors.
To them, we say: Thank you. Thank you for making all our futures brighter.
And thank you for showing folks how it’s done.