The 2003 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team 

They're at the head of the pack.

With high school graduation dates fast approaching, it's time again to look at the cream of the Arkansas high school class of 2003.

For the ninth year, the Arkansas Times has assembled an Academic All-Star Team, comprising 10 males and 10 females from public and private schools across the state.

Some of our winners are simply perfect, with flawless scores on the most rigorous college admission examinations. Most of them are at the top, or very near the top, of their high school classes. They've excelled at the most demanding courses and still found time for music, basketball, soccer, track and scores of other extracurricular and community activities.

They were nominated by their schools and passed through two rounds of judging. The winners were chosen from among 40 finalists in a day of judging by a four-judge panel. The judges were Sam Blair of Little Rock, a retired high school guidance counselor; JoNell Caldwell of Little rock, a member of the Arkansas Board of Education; Lynn Harrison, supervisor of gifted education in Sheridan, and Dr. Johanna Miller Lewis, chair of the History Department at UALR.

This year's competition was co-sponsored by the Arkansas Educational Television Network, which helped us get word out to the schools. AETN is also preparing feature films on some of the winners.

The winners will be honored with a reception this week at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. They'll receive plaques and cash prizes.

Remember that being nominated is a high honor in itself. Each school may nominate no more than one male and one female senior. All the nominees are listed in this issue.

If the past is prologue, some of this year's winners will go on to greater successes. One previous all-star is a Rhodes Scholar. Many of others have won top academic prizes, including being nominated for a Rhodes.

Enjoy some good news about Arkansas education.

Age: 18
High School: Bentonville High
Parents: Terry and Vicki Berry
College plans: Dartmouth

While working 28 hours a week at Wal-Mart, Terry has still found time to serve as president of his sophomore, junior and senior classes; run on the track team (conference champion in the 400-meter dash as a sophomore); co-found the Black Student Union at BHS; operate the sound equipment at his church and be a Star Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. He's a member of the ACE (Academic Competition in Education) team, the Art Club and the National Honor Society. A school counselor described him as "talented," "sociable," "inquisitive" and "a good listener."

Terry recalls running the 400-meter dash at the conference championships his sophomore season. "My body moved faster than my mind thought possible," he writes. "When I crossed the finish line, many things had happened. I had won the conference championship, run my best time ever (50.7 seconds), and fallen only two-tenths of a second short of tying the school record, set in 1976.

"I still had two years to shave only two-tenths. Nothing could stop me. Well, almost nothing ... A few weeks into my junior season, a torn ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] devastated my dreams of breaking the record.

"One year, one surgery, and months of painful rehabilitation later, I am living my dream again. My knee will never fully heal. It pains me, and my progress is frustratingly slow. But I am still running. That is my greatest achievement. I may not beat the record, but I have beaten my injury. I can live without having been the best, but I refuse to live without having been my best."

Age: 18
Hometown: Little Rock
High School: Catholic
Parents: Larry and Debbie Brady
College plans: Georgetown or St. Louis University, with a "probable" major in history or political science.

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