The 2009 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team 

An assembly of super achievers.

click to enlarge MAKING NOISE: Tobe Wood is a cannon hobbyist.
  • MAKING NOISE: Tobe Wood is a cannon hobbyist.

The 15th edition of the Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team is much like all those before it.

Valedictorians are commonplace. So are National Merit Scholarship finalists. Advanced placement courses? Our winners have taken most of those available at their schools and made As in the process.

The group illustrates the richness of Arkansas education and its people. The list is studded with newcomers from around the globe as well as home-grown winners from schools dotted all the way from the Delta to Northwest Arkansas. They write, dance, play music and sports, in addition to acing course after course. They also dream — of big careers and big achievements; in fields from journalism to medicine and science.

We selected this team in a two-step process. Applications were invited from all high schools, public and private, and home schoolers. Each school could name one male and one female student. An initial review of the nominees (all are listed in this issue) produced a list of 30, from which judges chose 20 winners — 10 males and 10 females.

The students will be honored this week in a ceremony at UALR, a sponsor of the competition. They'll also be featured in programs on AETN. Each will receive a $200 cash award.

On with the winners:



Age: 18

Hometown: Rogers

High School: Rogers High School

Parents: Keven and Lisa Anderson

College plans: Deciding between St. Louis University and Creighton


In the books, on the court


Chelsea Anderson doesn't mind a challenge. According to her high school counselor, Carlton Efurd, Chelsea has taken 10 AP classes since she was a sophomore and is currently enrolled in five at once. If that wasn't enough, she also plays basketball and was the captain of her volleyball team.

“She's ranked number one in the class and she's a great student,” Efurd says. “I've never heard a negative comment about her.”

“I've had to practice for at least two hours after school, every day, from August until March,” Chelsea says. “During basketball season I would have to stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning. It's calmed down a little bit now though and it's nice to just be dealing with school.”

But Efurd says Chelsea is more than just a top student or a star athlete.

“She has a goal, she has a plan and she knows what she wants to do,” Efurd says. “That's what's so neat about her. She's not just about her, she's about helping others.”

Chelsea volunteers for the Rogers Little Theater, community clean-up projects, and local political campaigns, but she's probably most proud of her work with the Special Olympics.

“Over the summer they get together and play sports, so a few of my friends from the volleyball team and I will teach them how to play volleyball and just play with them,” Hannah says. “I just like to help people.”

Hannah hopes to help people for a career. She plans to be a doctor.



Age: 18

Hometown: Little Rock       

High School: Pulaski Academy

Parents: Ken and Joanna Berry

College plans: Deciding among New York University, University of St. Andrew's in Scotland, Princeton, Columbia, Barnard, Penn and Brown


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