Academic All-Star team profiles

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is the governor of Kansas.

Gov. Sebelius’ job is not in danger, but the Ottawa High School senior is the top student official in the state for Key Club, a service organization.

“Key Club has given me a lot of public-speaking opportunities that not a lot of other people get. I think I’ve gained a lot from it,” Anderson said.

The organization has taught him to value community service and allowed him to travel extensively across the nation and state, he said.

Anderson said he enjoys the vigor of travel so much that a career at the U.S. State Department may be in his future.


As long as he can remember, history has drawn his attention, even when he read encyclopedias as a youngster.

“I read a lot when I was little. The stories I read I just liked,” he said.

One of his favorite teachers, Susan Geiss, also helped cultivate that interest during his sophomore and junior years in high school.

“She just always made it interesting. I really enjoyed her class,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s 4.0 grade-point average is a result of his enthusiasm for learning, but he insists academics are not his entire life.

Other than spending time with his friends at the poker table or watching movies, Anderson tries to retain trivial information to either quiz his buddies or compete on Ottawa’s QUEST scholar’s bowl team.

He continues to try to narrow his long list of college choices: Kansas University, Kansas State, Missouri, North Carolina, Duke, Vanderbilt and Georgetown.

His parents are Steve and Roberta Anderson.

Brenna Daldorph

Brenna Daldorph can see herself writing about others as a foreign correspondent someday.


“Traveling and experiencing new cultures and learning about different cultures are what I enjoy the most,” Daldorph, of Lawrence High School, said.

Daldorph has worked as an editor on her high school’s newspaper staff, and she has traveled to Japan, England and other places.

Her interest in writing probably comes from her family. Her father, Brian, is from England and is an assistant English professor at KU. Her mother, Sandra Thompson, teaches English as a second language.

Daldorph also takes an interest in politics and different cultures. At LHS, she has been active in the Young Democrats and the Model United Nations.

She is also president of the National Honor Society. The group is working right now on a clothing drive to give school uniforms for students at a New Orleans school.

Daldorph stretches herself among various activities, friends, family, part-time jobs and earning a 4.0 grade-point average.

“I try to balance time and friends and family, but I like just learning to relate to people and being with people,” she said.

Now, Daldorph is trying to choose between KU, Wisconsin-Madison and Macalester College in Minnesota to pursue degrees in international studies and journalism to help satisfy her “travel bug.”

Boning Zhang

Boning Zhang thinks she has found a career that will satisfy her interests in art and science.

The Free State High School senior will attend Washington University in St. Louis in the fall. She plans to double major in visual arts and science and then head to dental school to train as an orthodontist.


“When I got to thinking, that’s kind of a cool mix between the two,” she said.

Zhang described orthodontistry as working with small intricate parts to help people with their teeth.

Her father, Jianbo Zhang is a KU economics professor, and her mother, Yang Yang, works as a computer specialist at KU.

After living with her grandparents and attending first through third grades in China, Boning Zhang moved to Lawrence for fourth grade. The schools in the two countries differed greatly, even in elementary school, she said.

Here she had more freedom choosing her classes, Zhang said.

“I do not think I would have been able to have studied art there,” she said.

Zhang’s favorite teacher, Carolyn Berry, at FSHS helped keep her interested in art. Berry also introduced her to Washington University.

“She has really engaged me, and really helped me. She’s pushed me to do my best,” Zhang said.

Other than her art projects and earning a 4.0 grade-point average, Zhang played in the marching band. She was also involved in National Honor Society and the Cultural Heritage Club.

Lilly Varner

Lilly Varner didn’t have to look beyond her own parents for a source of interest in the medical field.

“I’d go to work with them all of the time and watch them,” the Santa Fe Trail High School senior said.


Varner’s mother, Nancy, works as an ultrasonographer, and her father, Kevin, is a veterinarian.

Varner hopes to practice radiology someday. She says she has always done well in science but also enjoys English and has performed in her high school’s band, dance team and plays and musicals.

“I feel that reading and writing makes almost anything in the world a little bit easier,” she said.

Her Spanish teacher, Allan Marquart, she says, does not teach her favorite subject, but he has made an impact.

“He’s been to Mexico many times, and he has a passion about what he is teaching,” she said.

Living in the United States and being able to study several subjects and involve herself in many school activities is something Varner cherishes. She was born in Seoul, South Korea, and her parents adopted her when she was four years old.

Varner said her parents have kept her aware of Korean culture with magazines, books and a trip there in the summer of 2004. But she would not trade her life in Kansas for anything, she said.

“I probably would not have gotten some of the opportunities I’ve gotten here,” Varner said.

In the fall, she will attend Washburn University and pursue a degree in pre-medicine.

Megan Ballock

Megan Ballock is a health nut.

She can’t stand to see people go hungry or neglect their physical fitness. But a person not having adequate access to health care gets under the Eudora High School senior’s skin the most.


“I really like to help people out – especially in that area,” Ballock said. “I’ve always been interested in exercise and nutrition.”

That’s why she said she would spend her fictional $10 million on organizations that provide care to those who can’t afford it. Ballock wrote about her plan in an essay on the application to become a Journal-World Academic All-Star.

Her interest in health issues may have a lot to do with her family’s home outside Eudora. She’s the oldest of six children, and they’ve always hiked and run around in the country.

Ballock also ran cross country and track, and she credits her coaches, Paul Boone and Dan Kuhlman, for keeping her interested in the sports.

“They put so much time into everything. Even during the off-season, we’ll just go on a run together,” she said.

Other than running, playing with her siblings and earning a 4.0 grade-point average, Ballock finds time to volunteer with 4-H and other organizations.

Her favorite thing is to help serve a warm meal to homeless people at the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen.

“It really makes people’s day that you were there and helping them,” she said.

Ballock will attend Pittsburg State University in the fall and begin working towards becoming a nutritionist or involved in another health-related field.

Her parents are Donald and LaDonna Ballock.

Carly Sakumura

Carly Sakumura says NASA will never send a 5-foot-tall soccer goalie like herself into space. But the Lawrence High School senior will settle for one day helping design rockets and spacecrafts instead.


“I really like engineering in general and the logical way of thinking it requires,” she said. “I would like to help design the next generation of space vehicles.”

Sakumura has already completed one task that might seem daunting as designing space equipment.

She trained a service puppy named Ghost, a yellow Labrador Retriever. After teaching the dog the basics around the house, Sakumura received permission to bring the dog to LHS for a few hours a day during part of her junior year.

“Just within training and raising a puppy, it teaches you a lot of patience. It also teaches you a lot about the way people react,” Sakumura said.

The dog seemed to behave better than her fellow students, sometimes, she said.

“She was unbelievably good at school,” Sakumura said.

Other than her three years as the LHS soccer goalie, Sakumura is also active with the mentoring group, the Link Crew; National Honor Society; Young Democrats; and Science Knowledgeable. She also coaches youth soccer and works part-time at Quizno’s Subs.

“I just make sure that I don’t waste a lot of time,” Sakumura said.

Her parents are Eric and Beth Sakumura.

Amanda Frederick

Amanda Frederick embraces being unique.

How the Free State High School senior styles her hair and what she laughs at support that.


“I have massive curly hair, and it’s very unique and bouncy. I kind of think that way about my sense of humor,” Frederick said.

One minute she may laugh at a complicated political joke. The next minute, a joke meant for a younger audience may have her on the floor in stitches.

“I just have a crazy sense of humor. I like really witty things in Shakespeare that lots of people wouldn’t get. I also like cartoons,” Frederick said.

Her interest in Shakespeare is part of an addiction to reading Frederick has had since her childhood years. It also fuels her desire to attend Kansas University in the fall and pursue degrees in English and education to become a teacher.

“It may be a little nerdy, but I’ve always liked correcting people’s grammar,” Frederick said.

For her love of the language, she credited a few of her teachers: Jill Adams at Southwest Junior High, and Mary Chapman and Sam Rabiola at Free State.

They all helped kindle her passion for reading and writing, she said.

Besides earning a 4.0 grade-point average and reading almost every book in sight, Frederick has been involved with music for several years. At Free State, she has been active in Key Club, National Honor Society and volunteered for Audio Reader at KU, recording book readings to help the blind.

Her parents are Joel and Diana Frederick.

Allegra Fisher

Allegra Fisher could play the piano before she could read.

“I started taking lessons when I was 6, but I had already learned the first book at that time,” said the Perry-Lecompton High School senior.


Her older sister, Addie, would come home from her own piano lesson and teach Allegra everything she had just learned. That’s when Allegra’s love affair with music began.

It has continued to be a focus of her high school career. Besides her time in the marching, concert and jazz bands, Fisher served for two years as drum major.

Have her music interests help contribute to her 4.0 grade-point average?

“Oh, totally. You learn to focus, and you learn to study and work at it everyday,” Fisher said.

Other than her sister, her former piano teacher, Danny Jackson, helped fuel her interest in music.

“He got me really excited about music and writing my own music,” she said.

Fisher now teaches piano herself, tutoring about 13 music students.

“Sometimes I have to say ‘You know what, you have time for what you want,’ when they give excuses for not practicing,” Fisher said.

At school, she also enjoys art, English and physics.

In the fall, she will either attend Kansas University or Washburn University. She plans to pursue degrees in music education and piano performance. Some day Fisher hopes to teach and perform.

Fisher has five brothers and sisters. Her parents are John and Karalee Fisher.

Cody Heston

Cody Heston credits his experience with 4-H, basketball and his interest in science for inspiring him to want to become a doctor.


“I’ve been working with people for years,” the Oskaloosa senior said. “I’ve been able to take on so many different positions, and I’ve had a lot of different opportunities to be a leader.”

He’s now the president of his 4-H club in Jefferson County, and he is a captain on the Oskaloosa basketball team.

After trying to decide between science and math for his possible career field, Heston couldn’t shake his fondness for helping others.

The student, who has a 4.0 grade-point average, will attend Washburn University in the fall. Heston hopes the pre-medicine classes will help him decide what type of doctor he wants to be.

One teacher, Dale Schmidt, has made it easier in the last three years for Heston to chose a science-related field.

“He was just really good at teaching. I understand what he teaches really well,” Heston said.

As the oldest child of Duane and Linda Heston, he will break down the doors into college ahead of his siblings. Attending college in Topeka will allow him to be relatively close to his tight-knit family, Heston said.

During his sophomore year, a tractor ran over Heston’s father, Duane, during hay season at the family’s farm outside Oskaloosa. Cody was the only one home, so he had to find help.

Luckily, Duane Heston had no broken bones and didn’t need to spend a night in the hospital. The experience still made the entire Heston family appreciate each other.

“It just really puts things in perspective. I really thought he was gone,” Cody Heston said.

Lynne Lammers

Lynne Lammers knows her curiosity has gotten the best of her.


But the Baldwin High School senior plans to work with it rather than fight it. She hopes to study the stars and one day become an astronomy researcher.

“Astronomy – it’s sort of like the last thing that we really don’t know much about,” she said.

Lammers remembers attending a space camp in junior high school that sparked her interest. She also has taken an astronomy class that she called “fascinating.”

After living in Baldwin, she has grown fond of the small-town experience, she said, but she is ready for a change. Besides Kansas University, Lammers is waiting to hear back from several schools in more heavily populated areas, including Rice University of Chicago, Stanford, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“It’s something that I definitely would like to try out,” she said.

One of her favorite teachers, Marcia Treat, taught an extended-learning class to her in junior high school.

“She really showed me that it’s fun to excel and go into depth,” Lammers said.

Besides her 4.0 grade-point average, Lammers also competed on Baldwin’s scholars bowl team. She also enjoys the challenge of playing the violin.

“After you’ve worked on something for a long time, and you nail a passage, it’s really rewarding,” she said.

Her interests in so many different areas boils back down to her curiosity.

“I guess I really like learning. I really like finding new things, trying new things and learning new things. I try to do some of it every day,” she said.

Her parents are Carl Lammers and Jana Jorn.