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1997 Academic All-Star finalists: Top students, some tough obstacles 

These students were also finalists in the annual 1997 Arkansas Times Academic All-Stars competition.

January Baumgardner, Ouachita High School, Donaldson. 1st in class. Softball umpire. Volunteer at Arkadelphia Human Development Center. Delegate to U.S. Senate Youth Program.

Endie Renee Bumgarner, Wynne High School. 13th in class. Artist, 2nd place, Mid-South Fair Art Exhibit. Assistant director of county summer arts program. Spanish Honor Society.

Jennifer Kay Coleman, Mountainburg High School. 2nd in class. Student Council president. Cheerleader captain. Basketball and softball. 4-H--hog show, fair queen contestant, speech and consumer education contests.

Ashley Brooke Dorsey, Berryville High School. 1st in class. Nine hours of college credit. President of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Cheerleader captain. Member, state record relay team.

Stephanie Jill Freeman, Stuttgart High School. 1st in class. President of National Honor Society. Band. National English Merit award.

Senitha Frost, El Dorado High School. 5th in class. Girls State. Dance Team. National Honor Society. Arkansas High School Mathematics Exam Honor Roll.

Kendra D. Halfacre, Bay High School. 1st in class. International Science and Engineering Fair finalist for experiment testing the amount of metals released by can openers. Student Council president. Member of Northeast Arkansas Food Bank.

Candice Sue Hall, Magnolia High School. 1st in class. President, National Honor Society. Band. Softball. Quiz Bowl captain. First Baptist Church Youth Choir.

Darlene Jackson, Hermitage. 1st in class. Band, Yearbook. Future Farmers of American. African-American Future Educators conference. Literacy tutor. Sunday School officer. Arkansas Governor's School.

Melanie L. Morris, Benton High School. 1st in class. National Merit finalist. Band drum major. Senior class president. Assistant coach for Mathcounts team.

Rachel Parker, Carlisle. 4th in class. Despite losing left arm as a six-year-old, became cheerleader, gymnast and prize-winner at keyboarding.

Anita L. Renda, Springdale High School. 1st in class. National Merit finalist. State debate champion. Top student, Arkansas Student Congress. Nursing home volunteer.

Laura S. Ross, Russellville High School. 1st in class. National Merit finalist. Mission trip to Kentucky. Drill team captain. DAR citizenship award.

Kaysie Thompson, Ashdown High School. 1st in class. National Thespian Society. Catered local business picnics. Advanced history, advanced English awards.

Karen Ward, Bryant High School. 1st in class. Art achievement award. AIDS prevention educator. Anti-drug program in elementary schools. Volunteer at child-care center.

Michael Barnes, Westside High School, Jonesboro. Valedictorian. National Merit finalist. Made straight-As while taking two college courses and working after school in a supermarket.

John Brown, Russellville High School. Valedictorian. Captain of the 260-member band. Active volunteer — Salvaton Army, Main Street Mission, Hearts 'N' Hammers.

Derek Coats, Hughes High School. 6th in class. Arkansas Governor's School. Boys State. Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Seminar. Finalist in Air Force ROTC competition.

Will Cooksey, Jonesboro High School. 10th in class (4.1 high grade point among athletes). President of student council. R.A.I.N. volunteer. Revived homecoming float-building contest.

Spencer A. Epley, Magnolia High School. 4th in class. President of Honors Science Club. Quiz Bowl. Basketball and baseball teams. Student council.

Tyrell Jacob Funkhouser, Oak Grove High School, North Little Rock. 3rd in class. 3rd in class. Eagle Scout. Reconstructed hiking trail at Camp Robinson. Hospital and children's theater volunteer.

Stuart C. Higginbotham, Hamburg High School. 1st in class. 16 academic awards. Yearbook editor. First Baptist Church choir. Brown Scholarship finalist at Lyon College.

John Hulsey, Heber Springs High School. 7th in class. National Merit finalist. Serves on church administrative board. Captain of state finalist Quiz Bowl team.

Richard Penn, Newark High School. 1st in class. Trombonist. Parliamentary teams. Helped build Christmas decorations for city of Newark. Five years of perfect attendance.

Matthew Peterson, Benton High School. Computer whiz, wrote programs used by school biology course and Quiz Bowl team. National Merit finalist. Straight As. Founded chess club.

John Simmons, Clay County Central High School, Rector. 1st in class. Yearbook co-editor. President of district Methodist youth. Varsity football captain.

David Stanley, Warren High School. 1st in class. Volunteer with inner city missions in Iowa and Texas. Newspaper editor. Band drum major. Choir accompanist.

Robert Thamer, Hot Springs High School. 1st in class. All-state tennis. Future Problem Solving state tournament. Ecology Club.

Jason Tyler, Sacred Heart High School, Morrilton. 1st in class. Quiz Bowl captain. Key Club president. Altar server since fourth grade. Basketball Manager of the Century.

Terrence Yarbrough, Conway High School. 19th in class. Track and football. Scholarship to Hendrix College. Made straight As while coping with a hospitalization and school transfer.

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