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David Hungate / Dominion Images
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David Hungate / Dominion Images
These Roanoke Valley 2014 high school graduates are perhaps best known for their cerebral prowess, but there’s a lot more to them than that.
OK, boys and girls, what we have here are the brainiacs, that class of student that is like really, really smart. You know, step-back-and-look-again smart. They’re the ones whose hands shoot up in class, who go to Harvard, who start companies when they’re 12.
At 17, they go to summer camp at MIT so they can learn astrophysics; their science fair projects are titled “Examining the Viability of Low-Cost Autonomous UAV for Search and Rescue Operations;” they compose symphonies that they perform publicly.
They are not necessarily the top-scoring students in their classes, but they likely could be if they wanted to. It’s a matter of priority.
Their own words are revealing. Sebastian Wellford of Cave Spring High: “I am interested in researching new drugs and medicines to help prevent diseases. I hope that my leadership, critical thinking and creative skills can help pioneer new treatments on a molecular level.”
Ryan Devins of Glenvar High: “I want to eventually work in a research and development capacity in the aerospace field where I can contribute to the creation of new concept aircraft or spacecraft and bring them to commercial aviation and the military…”
Nicholas Mikalauskas of Lord Botetourt High and the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School: “I [have] studied telomere lengths of DNA and their correlation with lifespan and healthiness.”
Ford Carson of Patrick Henry High School has a simple goal: “I would eventually like to leave this world in better condition than I found it, which I consider to be the most important accomplishment any human is capable of, and I believe I can do that by introducing productive people into society and making a positive impact on public health.”
What this story attempts to do is put faces on the brains of the Roanoke Valley high schools’ Class of 2014. There’s one from each school, save for a couple (Community High and Faith Christian) that are so small they aren’t included.
Here they are:
Age: 17 | GPA: 4.2
Parents: Todd Leeson, Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore, lawyer; Whitney Leeson, Roanoke College, history professor
College: Bates College
Selected Honors/Awards: National Merit Commendable Scholar, president, Salem High National Honor Society; copy editor, Laconian staff (yearbook awarded Columbia Scholastic Gold Crown); President French Club; officer Salem High Student Council Association; president Rotary Interact Club; Virginia Governor’s School for Humanities and Visual & Performing Arts; Rotary District annual youth seminar; French honor society; captain, academic team; varsity lacrosse (first team all-region, all district, all-Southwest Virginia, three-year captain, academic All-American U.S. Lacrosse Girls.)
Selected Community/School Involvement: Intern Salem Times-Register; U.S. Lacrosse junior referee; leader, Roanoke Valley Clean Valley Day; Salem Parks and Rec instructor/coach lacrosse; freelance writer.
Quote: “While I’m not yet sure what my major and, thus, career path will be, I’m very passionate about community service. So, I’d like to incorporate these priorities into my future career.”
Patrick Henry High School/Roanoke Valley Governor’s School
Age: 18 | GPA: 4.6
Parents: Regina Carson, stay-at-home mother; David Carson, circuit court judge
College: Washington & Lee University, pre-med
Scholarship/Grant: Johnson Scholar at Washington and Lee; Better Business Bureau Student of Integrity Scholarship.
Selected Honors/Awards: keynote speaker at Roanoke Technical Education Center’s Annual Celebration; Western Virginia Regional Science Fair first place animal sciences; Wendy’s High School Heisman Patrick Henry High School award; Roanoke Valley Governor’s School Outstanding Achievement award; Microsoft Office Excel Specialist Certification; College Board AP Scholar with Distinction; PH Social Studies Student of the Nine Weeks, twice; Roanoke City Reflections Program first place, dance.
Selected Community/School Involvement: Emergency Medical Technician Certification; Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership’s High School Leaders Program, UVa; Roanoke Technical Education Center’s Delegate on Roanoke City Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education Advisory Council; PH Delegate on Foundation for Roanoke Valley’s Youth Leadership Committee, The Philanthropy Project; Future Business Leaders of America; National Honor Society; Roanoke Valley Governor’s School Ambassador; varsity tennis (captain, MVP, district doubles champion, district team champion); varsity cross country (captain, team district champion); varsity soccer (team district champion).
Quote: “I hope to follow my passions for family and medicine by having children of my own and becoming a doctor in Roanoke. Having a younger brother and stay-at-home mother has shown me the value of being a caring parent and taking pride in accomplishments other than one’s own. Becoming a doctor has also been a dream of mine from an early age, and I recently became a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) to confirm my feelings.”