Best and Brightest 2012

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Schuyler Atkins - Augusta Preparatory Day School
School activities: Theater, National Honor Society, junior class officer
Awards and honors: AP Scholar, Furman Scholar, Georgia Certificate of Merit, Certificate of Academic Achievement, Foreign Language Honor Society
Community activities: Tutoring elementary- and middle-school-age children as part of school’s service club; volunteered at University Hospital and Doctors Hospital
College/career: Schuyler plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis, then attend medical school to become a pathologist.
Of note: Schuyler loves to travel and has been to England, Italy, Germany, France and Japan as a part of the National Society of High School Scholars.
Nominator’s note: “From arts to math to English, Schuyler has been repeatedly awarded for her academic excellence and participation in the classroom. A grade-point average of over 100 is rare in our small, private school, but Schuyler is one of the few to achieve this. So, in addition to testing very well, since her freshman year, Schuyler has proved she is one of the outstanding students in her class.”
– Laura Johnson, director of college counseling
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Haley Barinowski - Westminster Schools of Augusta
School activities: Head prefect, competitive/sideline cheerleading, varsity basketball, varsity soccer, Latin Club, Student Life Committee, FCA Huddle Starter/Leader
Awards and honors: National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Honor, Classical Association of the Middle West and South Honorary Member, STAR Student, National Latin Exam Book Award, Most Valuable Cheerleader, Best Defensive Basketball Player, Region Literary Spelling Champion
Community activities: Peer tutoring at Westminster Schools of Augusta, part-time pianist and nursery volunteer at Martinez Bible Chapel
College/career: Haley plans to attend Clemson University and pursue a career in business communications.
Of note: Haley plays the piano at her church and took lessons from second through 10th grade. She loves reading, writing, being active and spending time with her family.
Nominator’s note: “She is engaged in the classroom and contributes to the learning of the whole class by asking for clarifications and further explanations. She is enthusiastic and positive even in the face of the varied and great demands on her this year. Her fellow students look to her as a leader in the classroom.”
– Susan M. Smith, chemistry teacher, Science Department chairwoman
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James Brumbaugh - Francis Hugh Wardlaw Academy
School activities: Varsity football letterman, varsity golf letterman, varsity basketball, National Beta Club, Math Team, vice president freshman class
Awards and honors: SCISA Scholar Athlete, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, SCISA All-State Player, SCISA All-Region player, SCISA Region Lineman of the Year, Outstanding Offensive/Defensive Lineman of the Year, 2011 Augusta Sports Council All-Area Football First Team Award, South Carolina Palmetto Fellow, Benjamin Wofford Scholarship, head of school Honor Roll, Furman Scholar, Wofford Scholar, PC Junior Fellow, Junior Marshal
Community activities: Relay for Life, Operation Christmas Child, Toys for Tots
College/career: James will continue his education at Davidson College, where he will study psychology and play football.
Of note: James enjoys hunting, fishing, reading and playing golf.
Nominator’s note: “His level of intelligence could easily allow him to be a ‘know it all,’ but James does not succumb to this temptation. His thoughts are organized and his actions are methodical, allowing him to be efficient whether in the classroom, on the football field or on the basketball court.”
– Susan Williams, director of college counseling
4 of 20
Sanam Chaudhary
A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School
School activities: National Honor Society, track and soccer team manager, Health Occupa¬tions Students of America, Future Business Leaders of America, Student Council, basketball team
Awards and honors: Governor’s Essay Contest, FBLA for Personal Finance, FBLA for Global Business, HOSA (region) for Human Growth & Development, HOSA (state) for Human Growth & Development, Yale Best Engineering Project
Community activities: Cardio on the Canal, volunteer at MCG day care, Senate page
College/career: Sanam plans to attend Emory University and triple major in medicine, business and law. She wants to go into research.
Of note: Sanam is going to Augusta Technical College to begin college as a sophomore. She is now a patient care technician, EKG technician and phlebotomy technician and is preparing for the medical assistant test.
Nominator’s note: “Sanam is a person of honor and integrity. Her ability to get along with others makes her a natural leader. Sanam takes the initiative to be self-directed and to successfully solve tasks laid before her. She has performed well in high school and will continue to be successful in college.”
– Dr. Amanda Litfin, English professor
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Elijah Coleman - Coleman Preparatory Academy
School activities: CSRA HEA Math Team and Science Olympiad Team, Augusta Christian Chorus and spring musical, National Honor So¬ciety
Awards and honors: Nation¬al Merit Finalist; Dean’s List, ASU high score; gold medal, National Latin I and Latin II exams; Georgia Southern Math Tournament; ASU Math Tournament; Mercer Math Tournament; Mandel¬brot Competition; DOE Regional Science Bowl
Community activities: First Presbyterian youth groups, weekly 6 a.m. prayer meeting for teens, Augusta State University math tutor, mission trips to Peru and Ethiopia
College/career: Elijah plans to attend Clemson or the University of Alabama and earn a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, then go to graduate school to earn a Ph.D. and become a professor.
Of note: Elijah enjoys soccer and bicycling.
Nominator’s note: “I have known Elijah since 2003. Back then, he was the cute young son of the CSRA Home Education Association’s Mathcounts coach. His older brother Joshua and my son Joe were teammates on that Mathcounts team. … Smiles turned to amazement when we saw that he actually could follow the logic and do the math. From that point, we knew that Elijah was exceptionally gifted.”
– Sydney Shepherd, home educator
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Jerald Dekle - Butler High School
School activities: Football, wrestling, track and field, golf, Marine Corps JROTC, basketball manager and cameraman at the games, The Distinguished Gentleman chapter member
Awards and honors: 3.0 Average Award, Man of Steel Award, A/B Honor Roll, Wrestling Award, Offensive Player of the Year, Most Dedicated Football Player, Marksmanship Award, HOPE Scholar, first lieutenant and assistant instructor, fourth place in regional for wrestling
Community activities: Junior deacon at Spring¬water Family Christian Center, Alzheimer’s March, secured financial sponsorships for Butler athletics
College/career: Jerald plans to attend Savannah State University to pursue a degree in electrical engineering with a major in history.
Of note: Jerald likes running or walking, landscaping, bike riding, reading, music, counseling friends, and volunteering.
Nominator’s note: “He is such a responsible and respectful young man. I personally feel he is a fantastic example for all students. He always has an encouraging word or a warm smile for everyone he meets. He maintains high standards for himself. It is obvious that he has major plans for his life and he is consistently working to make all of his dreams a reality.”
– Ladell Fortune, choral activities director
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Mary Elizabeth Goodell - Westminster Schools of Augusta
School activities: Prefect Chapel/Spiritual Life Prefect, Drama Club, varsity swim team, Art Club, National Honor Society, debate team, Environmental Club, Latin Club, one-act play, spring musical
Awards and honors: National Merit Commen¬ded Student; AP Scholar; Converse College Junior Scholars Award; National Beta Club; National Latin Exam: Cum Laude; Swim Team Coach’s Award; Region and State Literacy; Georgia Theatre Conference: Best Supporting Actress; National Forensic League Degree of Honor and Merit; Warner Robins Tournament Novice speaker, Chattahoochee Cougar Classic: Dramatic Interpretation
Community activities: Augusta Youth Chorale, Christ Church Presbyterian youth group and nursery worker
College/career: Mary Elizabeth has enrolled at Wheaton College, double majoring in English and business/economics.
Of note: She has been involved with musical theater for nine years.
Nominator’s note: “I hold her in the highest regard as a student and individual. She has consistently proven herself to be highly intelligent, hard-working as well as one of the nicest and most compassionate students I have ever taught at either the high school or college level.”
– Glenn Bell, social studies chairman
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Selden Hunnicutt - Augusta Preparatory Day School
School activities: Spanish Club president, varsity cheerleading co-captain, Service Club member, choreographer for middle school musical theater class, National Honor Society member
Awards and honors: National Merit Commen¬ded Scholar, Harvard Book Prize, Global Citizen Scholar, General Excel¬lence Award for Highest Class GPA, Gold Award on National Spanish Exam
Community activities: Social Inc. Cotillion Club, teaching youth social graces and ballroom dance; Iglesia Bautista de Cristo Vive, teaching Hispanics basic computer skills in Spanish
College/career: Selden will enroll at Vanderbilt in the fall, majoring in international relations, Spa¬nish and Portuguese or La¬tin American studies. She plans to become a foreign service officer.
Of note: Selden has been a ballet dancer for 11 years and has performed in Dance Augusta’s The Nut¬cracker as a soldier, party child, mouse, pole chenille and the Nutcracker prince.
Nominator’s note: “Selden is one of the rare students for whom grades are ancillary to actually learning the material in any given course. It is precisely this kind of desire to truly learn and be active in her own education that characterizes Selden’s high school academic career.” – Laura Johnson, director of college counseling
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Charmaine Marshall - Grovetown High School
School activities: JROTC, Student Council, National Honor Society, National Beta Club, Model U.N., Drill Team
Awards and honors: Superior Cadet Award, Georgia Certificate of Merit Scholar, Governor’s Honors Program participant, American Le¬gion Award, third place Model U.N.
Community activities: Intern for U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, Watson-Brown Junior Board, Columbia County Youth Leadership Committee
College/career: Plans to attend Emory University to major in business and philosophy and obtain a JD/MBA degree and pursue a career in corporate law
Of note: Charmaine enjoys reading nonfiction and singing.
Nominator’s note: “Charmaine has an impeccable work ethic. She is focused and works diligently in class. She is always willing to do a little extra to get it right and strives for mastery of course content. She is extremely disciplined and has clear goals of where she wants to go and what she wants to accomplish. I truly believe her work ethic will carry her to great heights.”
– Christopher Cato, U.S. government/economics teacher
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Brenton McCorvey - Greenbrier High School
School activities: Mu Alpha Theta president, Math Team president, National Honor Society treasurer, varsity swimming, Spanish Honors Society, Foreign Language Association for International Rapport
Awards and honors: STAR Student, Harlem Woman’s Club, College Board AP Scholar with Distinction, 3 or higher score on five College Board AP exams, top 40 in statewide UGA Math Tournament, second-degree black belt
Community activities: Altar server, neighborhood tutor, Relay for Life
College/career: Plans to attend Georgia Tech and major in physics and pursue a Ph.D. in physics. Co-op at Georgia Tech; undergraduate research, internship
Of note: Brenton is an amateur astronomer and watches physics videos religiously. He also collects coins and was voted “most likely to be on Jeopardy” by his senior class.
Nominator’s note: “Being well-rounded is usually a term used to describe a student who is mediocre in many things but never excels in anything. However, this is not the case with Brent. When I say Brent is a well-rounded student, it is meant in the sense that he excels in everything that he does, striving for per¬fection and excellence in all facets of his life.”
– Tony Cummings, Math Department chairman
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Jennifer McDaniel - Edmund Burke Academy
School activities: Science Club president, varsity basketball captain, Literacy Society, Interact, Math Team, Advisory Board, 4-H, Fellowship of Christian Students
Awards and honors: STAR Student, Georgia Certificate of Merit Scholar, EMC Wash¬ing¬ton Youth Tour delegate, UGA Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources Alumni Scholarship, Master 4-H-er, 2011 Presbyterian College Fellow, Basketball All-Region, Basketball Most Outstanding Player
Community activities: Burke County 4-H President Senior Board, Ag in the Classroom volunteer, Hoops for Heart, Operation Christmas Child, Pennies for Patients
College/career: Double-major in fisheries & wildlife and forestry at the University of Georgia; work in the natural resources conservation field.
Of note: For one of her 4-H projects, Jennifer spoke about a small beetle that damages trees in her backyard. She won the district and state-level honors and was given the opportunity to attend the National 4-H Congress.
Nominator’s note: “She is honest, trustworthy and respected by her classmates and teachers as well. She leads by example and is not afraid of engaging in the hard work necessary to complete projects successfully.”
– Emma P. Johnson, counselor
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Keven Myrick - Cross Creek High School
School activities: Bas¬ketball captain; golf team; Math Club co-president; Math Team Beta Team; Family, Career and Com¬mu¬nity Leaders of America
Awards and honors: Scholar Athlete Award, Coca-Cola Academic and Athletic Award, Georgia Merit Recipient, Vince Dooley Award recipient
Community activities: Booster Club dinners, Heart¬land Hospice Care, Gol¬den Harvest Food Bank
College/career: Plans to attend a four-year college and major in industrial engineering
Of note: Keven enjoys singing in the choir, playing cards and producing music.
Nominator’s note: “While Mr. Myrick is an academic guru, he also enjoys socialization and adventure. He is a teen mentor with a mission and enjoys assisting the body in realizing their goal. His giving and caring demeanor is evident in his commitment to the many causes he chooses to work with as a voluntary member.”
– Deborah K. Welcher, Children Division at Beulah Grove Baptist Church; Richmond County teacher
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Gordon Nail - Swainsboro High School
School activities: Varsity tennis, marching band, Beta Club, Academic Team, Future Business Leaders of America, East College Pep Band, student council representative, Governor’s Honors Nominee, Class of 2012 Ring Committee, Emanuel County Board of Education
Awards and honors: STAR Student, FBLA Region and State Conference, Literary Society, National History Day, Science Fair Exhibit, highest academic average, Scholar Musician Academic Award, Varsity Tennis Academic Award, Hustle Award, Most Valuable Player Award, Homecoming representative, Senior Superlative, Senior Choice Award, East College Pep Band
Community activities: Calvary United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, youth leadership team, Citizens Bank Student Advisory Board member
College/career: Gordon plans to pursue an industrial engineering degree with a pre-law certificate. After law school, he wants to take the state bar exam and then the United States Patent & Trademark Office patent bar exam in order to realize his dream of a career as a patent attorney.
Of note: Gordon has a passion for history, and he loves to read. He is also the current Pine Tree Festival Boys 18U singles tennis champion.
Nominator’s note: “Although learning seemingly came easy to Gordon, he has never taken the easy route. Due to a shortage of academic electives at his high school, he was enrolled at East College during his junior year. For the past three semesters, he has been a full-time college student while in high school. However, his focus on one did not take away from his focus on the other. In fact, when he graduates this May, not only will he have the title of ‘STAR Student’ for Swainsboro High School and Emanuel County, but he will also have 38 hours of college credit.”
– Whitney Pellissier, English teacher
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Isaac Nesbitt - South Aiken High School
School activities: Vice president of Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, German Club, National Honor Society, Palmetto Boys State delegate
Awards and honors: Naval Academy Stem Program, DOE Science Bowl, Physics Brainstorm
Community activities: Millbrook Christian Anglers, Cedar Creek Church food drives, South Aiken Presbyterian summer camps
College/career: Isaac plans to attend Clemson University to study mechanical engineering
Of note: Isaac is an avid bass fisherman in multiple clubs and won Angler of the Year in 2009 for Millbrook Christian Anglers.
Nominator’s note: “Isaac has the innate ability to succeed academically in college-level coursework. He has done well academically here at South Aiken. His current GPA is a 5.12, and he ranked No. 2 in the class (No. 1 student’s GPA is 5.2). Isaac has consistently chosen the more rigorous courses to challenge himself academically.”
– Carolyn Anderson-Flite, school counselor
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Amanda Newsome - Thomson High School
School activities: Bulldog Brigade, drumline captain, NJROTC chief petty officer, Beta Club, FBLA, French Club
Awards and honors: Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award, Literacy Competition for Region, State Literacy Competition
Community activities: Relay For Life
College/career: Amanda plans to attend the University of Georgia and major in business.
Of note: Amanda likes playing the drums and other percussion instruments and reading.
Nominator’s note: “Amanda is one of the most hard-working students I have known. She has devoted herself to her studies and has established the habit of persevering through obstacles in order to realize her dreams. Amanda is able to balance her wonderful sense of humor and fun with a solid, serious work ethic. Her priority is always to focus on academics first.”
– Richard L. Williams, school counselor
16 of 20
Matthew Ross - Aquinas High School
School activities: Varsity soccer, National Honor Society, Model U.N., Campus Ministry
Awards and honors: Valedictorian, induction into the National Honor Society, highest grade in course awards and invitation to participate in Georgia American Legion Boys State
Community activities: Mission trips to Peru and Bolivia; Homeworks, a volunteer organization that rebuilds rundown houses in the community; youth ministry
College/career: Matthew plans to attend college (school undecided as of now) and pursue a dual major in medieval history and education. From there, he hopes to attend graduate school and pursue a higher degree in order to become a professor.
Of note: Matthew enjoys whitewater kayaking, mountain biking and fishing.
Nominator’s note: “His ability to manage his time and to organize his research has been impressive. Matt is one of the kindest students I have ever taught and displays a maturity that is beyond his years.”
– Joseph C. Le Vert, philosophy/theology teacher
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Olivia Saulsby - John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School
School activities: Spanish Club treasurer, Math Club, Drama Club, peer tutor, Pennies for Peace, Advanced Dance student leader
Awards and honors: Shakespearian Poetry Contest, Poetry Out Loud, National Spanish Exam honorable mention, honor graduate, Leadership in the Arts in Dance
Community activities: Red Cross volunteer at Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Arts in the Heart, Westobou, Pennies for Peace, Sunday school teacher assistant, Augusta Children’s Week performer
College/career: Plans on double majoring in accounting and marketing or statistics at Kennesaw State University. After college, she plans on being an accountant, pursuing marketing in the fashion world or being a statistician.
Of note: Olivia enjoys dance performance, poetry recitation, piano, modeling and fashion and traveling.
Nominator’s note: “To know Olivia is to instantly love her. She is one of the most dedicated students and tremendous young people that I have had the pleasure to work with. She has achieved so much in her life, despite the fact that she has faced serious adversity.” – Aletha Snowberger, assistant principal
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Shannon Strong - Aiken High School
School activities: Marching band section leader, symphonic band lead clarinet, National Hon¬or Society, Delta Epsilon Phi, German Club officer, Students Applying Math and Science Club, jazz band, orchestra lead clarinet, woodwind quintet
Awards and honors: Excel¬lence in German, Excellence on National German Exam, Excellence in Physical Science, Rotary Student of the Month, USC Aiken Scholar, USC Scholar, Region Honor Band, County Honor Band, perfect attendance grades 3-11
Community activities: National Honor Society, tutor/mentor students
College/career: Attend Furman University or the University of South Carolina to study engineering
Of note: Shannon enjoys gardening; volunteers at a shelter and fosters dogs; baby-sits; and tutors
Nominator’s note: “Shan¬non’s drive to gain knowledge and excel in the face of adversity is what has earned my respect. She has grown up with limited means and resources but has never used that as an excuse. In spite of being deprived of environment that fosters growth, Shannon has risen to the top. In addition to her work in school, Shannon has held a position at the local Publix. There she works as many hours as possible to help ends meet.”
– Ryan Westberry, director of bands
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Gemariah Valencia - A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School
School activities: National Honor Society president, tennis team co-captain, Future Business Leaders of America president, Health Occupation Students of America secretary, Math Varsity team member, World Language president
Awards and honors: Dean’s list at Augusta State University, UGA Georgia Certificate of Merit
Community activities: Near Peer Mentoring with Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta Korean Methodist Church worship leader, church choir accompanist and vocalist, Richmond County Youth Council, Georgia Student Advisory Council for superintendant of schools
College/career: Attend Georgia Tech to major in biomedical engineering and Mandarin Chinese with a minor in chemistry, then attend medical school at Johns Hopkins or Stanford
Of note: Gemariah enjoys playing the guitar, piano and the ukulele, and playing ping-pong and volleyball
Nominator’s note: “Miss Va¬lencia is an academically brilliant young scholar. She has a courageous yet humble spirit which has transcended into her becoming an accomplished leader, trailblazer and servant within the educational arena and in her local and state communities.”
– Dr. Emma McCain, high school counselor
20 of 20
Seroyah Williams - Emanuel County Institute
School activities: Basketball captain, Beta Club, cheerleading co-captain, 21st Century Leaders of America, Citizens Bank adviser, FBLA, FCCLA, Bulldog Buddy, yearbook staff, prom committee
Awards and honors: Academic Excellence Award, UGA Merit Award, Highest Average Award, Hustle Award – basketball, Academic Award, Star Honor Roll
Community activities: Nursing home visits to play and sing with elderly, Adopt-A-Highway, provided a Veterans Day program at no charge with free food
College/career: Seroyah plans to attend Georgia State University or Kennesaw State University to pursue a career in nursing
Of note: Seroyah enjoys singing in her church choir, running, exercising and baby-sitting
Nominator’s note: “She possesses all the qualities of a true friend and makes one wish they could be that kind of friend to others. She has demonstrated a high aptitude toward academics and is an active participant in many school functions.”
– Richard Wade Rogers, a high school science teacher


The Augusta Chronicle recognizes 20 outstanding members of the class of 2012: the winners of the 10th annual Best & Brightest Awards.


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