Cancer. Kidnapping. Calculus.
These are but a few of the obstacles overcome by a talented group of high school seniors-the 1996 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team.
The Times inaugurated the recognition program for academic achievement last year. It is the only statewide program of its kind in Arkansas, which has many athletic competitions but few geared to classroom work.
Earlier in the spring, we invited counselors and principals at all of the state's public high schools, as well as representatives of private high schools and home schoolers too, to nominate seniors for consideration.
The schools submitted applications detailing the students' academic and extracurricular achievements. Good grades and test scores were only the beginning of the criteria. We were looking for students who stood out in many ways--in school, sports, jobs, communities, churches, families.
The nominations were reviewed by two independent panels of professional educators. They selected the 10 young women and 10 young men for the All-Star team.
Following are capsule biographies of the winners, along with a list of honorable mentions and the complete list of nominees.
The winners will be honored, along with parents and teachers, at a reception next week at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Each team member will receive a cash award and plaque.ROBERT "BEAU" BREWER
A quick glance at the achievements of Robert "Beau" Brewer can yield only one reaction: This young man is the figment of a Hollywood movie producer's imagination, too good to be true.
And, indeed, even a fictional academic superstar might have a tough time living up to Beau's lead. His achievements aren't one-faceted--Beau this season was the third-ranked high school tennis player in the state, helping the Central Tigers win the state championship by making it to the semifinals of the final competition. He has a fine record of service, including tutoring his peers in French and mathematics during his lunch hour and teaching tennis to underprivileged kids in Little Rock.
And on the academic front, his success is almost unprecedented. Beau scored a perfect 240 on the PSAT, the only student in Arkansas to achieve the feat that year. He is the No. 1-ranked senior in his class of 400 and scored a 1570 on his SAT, including a perfect 800 on the verbal portion of the test.
"And I didn't even tell you about his walking on water," Central guidance department chairman Sam Blair said with a laugh. Asked to try to remember an instance when Beau failed at something, Blair paused for a while before saying, meekly, "Well he has dropped to third in the state in the tennis rankings" after holding down the No. 1 spot for a time, "and I wouldn't exactly call that failing."
Discussing his accomplishments obviously makes Beau uncomfortable, but he doesn't pooh-pooh their significance.
"It's hard to take stuff for granted. Test scores are such a small thing that can make a huge difference," he said. His unassuming attitude shows in his college selection--the well-rounded Georgetown experience appealed more than Princeton where everybody "seemed very aware that they were at an Ivy League school."
Before you worry about Beau's non-stop schedule, know that he and his buddies have established an unofficial group they call "the Brotherhood of Slackers," Beau says, who work just hard enough to get their As.MICHAEL BUCK
Visual art, through Nov. 4, "Nature & Nurture", works by Carol Corning and Ed Pennebaker,…