The young heavyweights

CSRA's Best and Brightest grow hope for our future

Wouldn’t it be great if  you could go to Home Depot and buy a mold for growing smart kids and superlative citizens?

Well, you can’t buy it at a store. But there is a matrix to marvel at and borrow from.

It’s called the Best and Brightest.

For 10 years now, The Augusta Chronicle and its sponsors, in particular Augusta State University, have celebrated the area’s Best and Brightest graduating high-school seniors. On Thursday, we recognized the top 20 at a banquet, where the top five won special awards.

We’re awestruck every year by the limitless potential and the already-impressive resumes and inspiring character of these beautiful young scholars and stars. Their achievements go far beyond good grades; they are also selected by our independent judges for their community service, extracurricular activities and character, as well as poise and presentability while being interviewed.

Each year’s class, invariably and to a person, features young people who seek first to serve their fellow man. It’s just that they’re gifted enough to do it at levels most of us can only dream of – as doctors, engineers, teachers and more. And, quite often, they plan on two and even three major areas of study in college – usually at a university we’ve all heard of, and which grabs one’s attention.

This year, our Best and Brightest grand prize winner, Gordon Nail Jr., graduated Swainsboro High with 38 college credit hours already under his belt, on the way to his dream of being a patent attorney and helping people bring their own dreams to market. Similarly, A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School’s Sanam Chaudhary will enter college as a sophomore on the way to a triple major in medicine, business and law.

Of Westminster Schools of Augusta’s Mary Elizabeth Goodell, a nominator wrote, “I hold her in the highest regard as a student and individual.” What an incredible compliment for an adult to pay to a teen – something we all would love to hear said about our own offspring.

Indeed, here is where the
matrix comes in.

Several families were seeing their second or third student honored at Best and Brightest Thursday night. One joked that there was “no pressure on the fourth!”

This should tell you everything you need to know about parenting, which is: It’s everything.

These kids are bright enough for it, of course, but this is not rocket science. It’s sound, disciplined, loving, caring, selfless parenting. Pure and simple.

You cannot witness the Best and Brightest awards banquet and not be filled with admiration for these youths and with hope for our future.

And you wish one of these bright young kids would grow up to be a scientist who comes back and puts his or her parents, or other Best and Brightest parents, under a microscope to find out what makes them tick. How do they keep producing these top-flight learners and model citizens? And how can the rest of us replicate it?

They didn’t break the mold. The template is there for all to see.

These young heavyweights of academia and achievement owe their parents a debt of gratitude. But so do the community and nation and, in some cases, the world.

Whatever the future holds, these folks are sure to have left the world better than they found it.

Good luck, students. And God bless you, parents.

You’re the best, too.

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