Rand Ziegler knows it sounds cliché, but he thinks this year’s nominees for the Journal-World’s Academic All-Star honors are the best he has come across.
“I thought it was a noticeably stronger group of applicants than I have seen in my 10-plus years,” Ziegler said.
Since 1997, the Journal-World has honored the top area high school seniors for their academic success and extracurricular accomplishments. This year, 10 seniors from nine high school earned the designation as a 2012 Academic All-Star.
As a parent of two college students, Ziegler knows what it takes for students these days to achieve high grades and handle busy after-school schedules.
“I don’t know how they do it,” Ziegler said of this year’s scholars.
As for the academics, Ziegler said he doesn’t remember seeing a group of applicants where nearly every student had a 4.0 and many had ACT scores of 30 or higher.
Ziegler, who is the vice president and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Baker University in Baldwin City, was one of three judges who narrowed a group of more than 20 nominees down to 10 All-Stars.
Ziegler was joined by former Lawrence school board president Austin Turney and Robert Harrington, a professor of psychology and research in education at Kansas University.
The students were judged based on their academic records and extracurricular activities. Nominees also wrote an essay on how the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave 18-year-olds the right to vote, has changed the political climate among youth and how they plan to use that vote to empower the next generation of adults.
Turney said selecting just 10 students from among 24 applicants was a difficult task.
“It was tough to pick the ones we did. It was a very diverse, but very talented group. We just had to make some decisions,” Turney said.
From pursuing degrees in engineering, nursing and music education, this year’s Academic All-Stars have a clear vision for the careers they will some day hold. And there were a few who had already taken steps in that direction, Turney said.
The fact that the students who were recognized represented nine schools throughout the region shows there is “talent in every high school,” Turney said.
— Reporter Christine Metz can be reached at 832-6352.