A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
They're young Democrats and young Republicans. They're athletes and artists. They're dreamers who do. They're all smart, talented and giving. And they're the members of the 2002 Arkansas Times' Academic All-Star Team.
The program, now in its eighth year, is the only statewide recognition of scholastic excellence in Arkansas. We've given out more than $40,000 in cash prizes since the program began in 1994.
The Times sends nomination forms to all Arkansas high schools, public and private. The schools' nominees (one male and one female from each school) go through two rounds of judging. The final round, judged by a panel of professional educators, produces 20 outstanding Arkansas students.
The winners will be honored April 17 at a reception at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Merely being nominated is an honor. And if the past is any indication, expect these students to go on to even greater success.
Following are profiles of the 20 winners. Their achievements should make everyone proud.JAMILA AMARSHI
'We made an impact'
What's a straight-A student at the state's school for math and science whizzes in Hot Springs doing over in the art studio? She's creating a multimedia sculpture in wood, paint and clay of a dancer going through five dance moves. She's one of four students invited to join an advanced placement tutorial.
Jamila Amarshi is well rounded both in talents and in background: She's the daughter of east Indians from Africa who moved to Osceola from Memphis and Vancouver, Canada. Her heritage is celebrated at Math and Science, where, she says, students from different backgrounds revel in their differences. (It's quite a change from Mississippi Christian Academy, the tiny private Delta school she attended before heading for the School for Mathematics and Sciences.)
When she's not sculpting or taking courses with names like "math modeling" and "senior research lab" or working on a paper on sleep apnea and its relation to hypertension, Jamilah's doing real work in the community, as the president of the ASMS Interact Club, a Rotary Club spinoff. The new club's first independent project was throwing a Halloween carnival for 75 underprivileged children.
It's service she's proud of: "We made an impact on the lives of kids, and that in turn made an impact on me."
Jamilah's varied interests will only grow once she gets to college, she says. "I'll be exposed to so much," she says; she's not ready to declare a major. "I might end up in business, but I don't want to let go of art."
She's thinking architecture might combine her math and design skills. But where? She's applied to 12 schools — "I didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket" — and has so far been accepted to Stanford, Dartmouth College, Washington University, Rhodes College, Hendrix and the University of Arkansas.COLLEEN BARNHILL
A big hitter
If you've had a child in the Hillcrest Girls Softball League, you probably know Colleen Barnhill. She's the sunny blonde who for five years now has been grilling the hot dogs and selling pop and candy to the little hitters when she's not playing ball herself.
She's a big hitter, herself, at high school, where last year she won the Gold Cum Laude Award on the National Latin Exam and the Advanced Placement Spanish VI Award last year.
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Best of luck. Will look forward to watching the results with high hopes for him.