The 2013 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team 

The twenty best and brightest high school students in the state.

It's time again to meet our choices for Arkansas's top 20 high school seniors.

The class of 2013, our 19th, is full of athletes, musicians, quiz bowlers, scientists and Jeopardy champions. There's rarely a B on the transcripts of these students — in not just this, their senior year, but in any year of their high school careers.

They have busy lives outside school, too, with extracurricular activities, volunteer work, mission activities and more.

They'll be honored this week at a ceremony at UALR with plaques and $250 cash awards. AETN will feature some of them in a series of short videos that will appear periodically on the state's public television network.

The final deadline for college decisions has not yet arrived. College plans listed are, therefore, not set in stone.

Age: 18
Hometown: Arkadelphia
High School: Arkadelphia High School
Parents: Julie and Joseph Bradshaw
College plans: Considering Baylor, Rice and Washington University in St. Louis

Failure not an option

From a very young age, Jace Bradshaw has pushed himself to excel academically. His mother, Julie Bradshaw, said that even as a small child, Jace was goal-oriented and loved to undertake new challenges. "Part of it is personality," Julie Bradshaw said. "The other part, I think, is that his dad and I have always stressed to do your best, and in doing your best, always learn. Every day should be a chance to learn." It's a lesson Jace has taken to heart. Currently ranked No. 2 in his class of 132, Jace has a 4.22 GPA in a course load that has included eight advanced placement classes. Jace said that he plans to become a doctor and help people in impoverished countries overseas. He's already got a jump on that goal, having been part of an engineering design and development team that built a prototype for a condenser that can pull water from air. "After three months of constant work on the prototype and constant refinement of the design," Jace wrote in his Academic All-Stars essay, "my group produced a highly mobile, working prototype that produced clean, drinkable water from the air. ... The prototype worked so well that I have been in contact with a vendor from Walmart." Asked why he pushes himself so hard in school while others are content to coast, Jace said he likes to set goals and achieve them through persistence. "I will not accept failure," he said. "I am always open to new experiences that will enrich my life, and I have pursued them throughout high school."

Age: 17
Hometown: Little Rock
High School: Central High School
Parents: Tao and Ying Chen
College plans: Considering a variety of options, including Stanford and University of Chicago.

By the numbers

For a math whiz like Central High's David Chen (by his junior year, he'd exhausted all but one of the comprehensive list of math classes offered at the school), numbers seem as good a place as any to start. He's No. 1 in a class of almost 500 students at one of the state's most competitive high schools. His composite ACT and SAT scores were just shy of perfect. He's scored a 5, the best possible score, on nine Advanced Placement tests. His transcript is a perfect parade of A marks (4+) in demanding courses such as calculus and AP English, chemistry, physics, U.S. History and psychology this term.

David, a National Merit scholarship program honoree, hasn't been pinned in by Central High boundaries. He's studied game theory at Duke's TIP program and been a winner in the Math Counts and science fair competitions. He attended Governor's School. He's done independent research at UAMS and NCTR. He competes on the swim team and led a state championship team in a Future Business Leaders economic competition, though he'd never taken a business or marketing class. He created a chess team at Central High, an outgrowth of his passion for a game he was taught by his father as a first-grader. It's one of his proudest achievements. It included persuading a statistics teacher who didn't play chess to be a sponsor, recruiting enough members to field a team and winning a school grant to support the program. He also lined up a coach from Little Rock Air Force Base. Results: 30 members and a fifth-place statewide finish. He thinks he's established a base that guarantees its continuation. Though his strongest subject is math ("I never have to study," he says), he's leaning toward concentrating on business in college. He might be particularly well-placed to put new skills to use with one of the world's fastest growing economies: He learned as a child to speak Chinese from his immigrant parents.


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