State champion runners, football players, musicians and award-winning scientists. They are all represented among the 20 members of this year's Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team.
Now in its seventh year, the recognition program is the only statewide salute to academic achievers. We've given more than $35,000 in cash prizes since the program began.
Every high school in Arkansas is invited to nominate a male and female student for consideration. Two rounds of judging produce the winners, 10 males and 10 females.
The winners will be honored at a reception next week at UALR. They also will receive cash prizes and plaques. If history is a guide, many of them will continue to excel. Previous winners have gone on to win prestigious prizes, including the Rhodes Scholarship (Anna Terry of Fort Smith and the University of Arkansas). This year's winners:
Center of attentionDAINE THOMPSON BENNETT
Daine Bennett is the original BMOC (big man on campus) at Lonoke High School.
He's academically first in his class of 117. He's the senior class president. His classmates voted him Outstanding Senior. He's the varsity football star, one of 13 in Arkansas to received the Hooten's Arkansas Football Magazine Scholar Athlete award, and he wasn't your standard hotshot quarterback or linebacker: he was the center. He was also a four-year stalwart on the Lonoke High school conference championship baseball team. He's an Eagle Scout. He's taken home all the future business and farm management awards. He's a Big Brother mentor, and the youngster you see raking old people's yards and delittering the prairie roadsides of thoughtless classmates' butts and Dr Pepper cans is most likely to be ol' Daine. He is, according to his counselor at Lonoke High, Carol Rudder, one of the all-round most popular young people ever to have come out of Lonoke.
Daine counts the Scouting as his best achievement. He's been in the program since kindergarten, and it taught him perseverance, the quality he likes best in himself. When others have given up on a project, and he has wondered himself if it might be just too hard, that's when he sets his jaw, he says.
The last five summers Daine has worked full-time on his father's farm, and he says the hard physical work, in contrast to the rigorous academic schedule he has carried, has given him a nice perspective on life that he will take to UA-Fayetteville in the fall.
Present-day Renaissance manJAMISON W. BREWER
A recent weekend was typical for Jamison Brewer, said Barbara Prichard, director of the gifted program at Fayetteville High School.
"He began by traveling on Saturday to all-region choir tryouts, where he was selected for First Choir by audition. On Sunday morning at 8 a.m., he sang at his church and also played bass guitar and cello in other musical selections for multiple services. He left church to attend a citywide celebration to sing with the select-performance ensemble. He then rushed back home, changed into a tux, and was off to sing an aria in Italian at the Arts Center."
Jamie is all-state in both choir and orchestra, and a veteran vocalist in school and community musical productions. Academically, he's first in his class of 449 at Fayetteville High School, and his academic specialties have been science, math, and languages. He's copped a record number of writing awards in this community that loves its writers. As an ordained elder at First United Presbyterian Church, he's done an extraordinary amount of counseling and outreach church work and has still found time to play on the school's top-ranked varsity tennis team.
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