Archive for Sunday, April 21, 2013

Academic All-Stars: The Journal-World’s 2013 Academic All-Star team

April 21, 2013



When she's not studying to keep up perfect grades, cheerleading at Baldwin High School events or taking part in 4-H activities, Olivia Beins often can be found volunteering at her church.

Over the course of three summers, she took part in mission trips with the Baldwin First United Methodist Church repairing homes of underprivileged people. She has also been a regular volunteer at the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutritional Kitchen and helps with children's ministries at the church's vacation bible school.



It's a tradition of caring that she says she inherited from her mother Kathy, who died of cancer in 2010.

"My mom was a wonderful, caring person," Beins said. "She acted as a second mom to all of my friends, did numerous hours of community service, was a very faithful Christian and really taught me what it means to be a good person."

In school, Beins was captain of the cheerleading squad, and also made the principal's honor roll and was a member of the National Honors Society. She was active in the Palmyra 4-H Club, Future Business Leaders of America and the Baldwin High School Patriots Club.

Beins plans to stay close to home for college. She'll attend Baker University in Baldwin City, where she earned the university's Presidential Scholarship. She plans to study international business and Spanish. She also plans to stay involved in cheerleading at Baker.

School: Baldwin High School

Grade-point average: 4.0

Class rank: 1 of 106

Parent: John Beins

College and career plans: Attend Baker University to study international business, with either a double major or minor in Spanish.


By the time Jeffrey Doolittle finished elementary school, he had already seen more of the world than many people see in a lifetime.

At the age of 4, his family moved to Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific, where his parents taught the children of missionaries.

"There were people on the missionary center from all over the world, and because of this I learned at an early age how to communicate with all types of people, even those who don't speak English," Doolittle said.



He describes the three years the family spent overseas as "the single event that has changed my life the most," because they taught him how to communicate, as well as how to build relationships with people of different backgrounds.

At Ottawa High School, Doolittle excelled at music and sports. He plays trumpet and piano, and played varsity golf for two years. He served on the Student Council, including three years as class president; was active in the National Honors Society; and performed in concert band, marching band, pep band and jazz band.

He was a commended student in the National Merit scholarship program and was named to the Ottawa High School Platinum Club for earning a composite 34 on his ACT exam. He was a Kansas Governor's scholar, a University of Kansas Honor scholar and was active on the school's varsity scholar bowl team, including two years as captain.

Doolittle plans to attend Kansas University and study chemical engineering

School: Ottawa High School

Grade-point average: 4.0

Class rank: 1 of 141

Parents: Daniel and Carolyn Doolittle

College and career plans: Attend Kansas University and study chemical engineering, which he hopes will lead to a career researching alternative fuel sources.


Kristen Finger says one of the good things about going to a small school is the chance - almost an obligation - to be involved in everything. That was a good fit for a student who boasts the ability to move in five directions at once.

"While part of my brain is focusing on the task at hand, another section is thinking about a story I want to write while a different sector is contemplating deep mysteries of life," said Finger, the top-ranked student in a class of seven at Veritas Christian School in Lawrence.



Finger credits her volleyball coach, Kristen Oberzan, for helping her develop self-esteem, and for teaching her that an occasional lapse or failure simply made her about average. She says she finds comfort in being average, but not much has been average about her performance in and out of school.

While maintaining a 4.0 grade average, she lettered in volleyball and basketball, and also took part in track. She also sang in the choir, edited the school newspaper and yearbook, and took part both on and off stage in school theater.

Outside school, she has been active in numerous church activities, including a mission trip to Honduras in 2012, and she volunteered at the Lawrence Pregnancy Care Center.

Finger plans to attend Baker University in the fall and study English and Spanish. She also hopes to spend some time studying abroad and eventually teach English as a second language.

School: Veritas Christian School

Grade-point average: 4.0

Class rank: 1 of 7

Parents: Mark and Jonnie Finger

College and career plans: Attend Baker University, teach English as a second language.


To look only at Paige Lauri's academic record, a person might think she is one of those people to whom everything comes easy and naturally: a straight-A student; talented in speech and drama; adept in such diverse areas asscience, dance and foreign languages.

But as with most successful people, there were challenges and hardships along the way, and Lauri credits one special friend for helping her get through those hard times: a camp counselor named Karen, whom she met the summer before sixth grade at Mission Lake Christian Camp.



Karen helped Lauri through many of the normal things a pre-teen girl goes through, but she was also there to help when things got more serious.

"Karen also kept me in her arms from far away when my middle and high school best friend died my sophomore year," Lauri said. "She supported me through all of my endeavors and choices, good or bad, and has been a constant voice in my head about my life."

At Tonganoxie High School, Lauri earned many academic honors: Kansas Honor Schjolar; Southern Leavenworth County Leadership Class; and National Honor Society, to name a few.

She was active in Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA); theater, Foreign Language Club, Science Club and forensics, while also making time for volleyball and the varsity dance squad, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She also was president and founder of the group Students Respecting Students.

And in the community, she devoted many hours of volunteer work at her church and in the community.

In the fall she plans to attend Belmont University, a Christian school in Nashville, Tenn.

School: Tonganoxie High School

Grade-point average: 4.0

Class rank: 1 of 137

Parents: Chad and Kelly Baldwin

College and career plans: Attend Belmont University. Undecided about major and career plans.


Tessa Newberry is the kind of person who seems to move effortlessly among many kinds of people and many different interests and activities.

"I've always gotten along with others easily," she said. "Although I'm not perfect, I do my best to try and remember that everyone matters and has something to contribute."



An avid photographer who works on the Bonner Springs High School newspaper and yearbook, Newberry also is a student athlete who excels at science, English and math. She enjoys both fiction and non-fiction reading, and keeps a large music collection.

That may explain why she's still undecided about a college major or a career. She could lean toward mechanical engineering and applied mathematics, or possibly graphic design, or business administration.

Newberry says her father, a self-taught computer programmer, was the person who sparked her interest in math and most influenced her outlook on life.

"He has not only shown me what true unconditional love is, he has also always believed in me even when I didn't," she said.

The valedictorian of her class, Newberry was chosen Homecoming queen at Bonner Springs where she maintained a straight-A grade average. She won numerous awards throughout high school from the Kansas Scholastic Press Association for photography and graphics and theme development.

She is the co-editor-in-chief of the school yearbook and has been a member of the newspaper staff. Other activities included Student Council, where she served as class president her freshman, sophomore and junior years, and was elected executive president her senior year. She is also involved in National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Peer Helpers and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

She was also on the varsity soccer, basketball and cross country squads.

Outside of school she logged more than 300 hours of community service, volunteering at her church and various school activities.

School: Bonner Springs High School

Grade-point average: 4.0

Class rank: 1 of 166

Parents: Brad and Starla Newberry

College and career plans: Undecided


Of all the people who have inspired, challenged and helped educate Abigail Schletzbaum, she gives the most credit to her younger sister Anna.

"She was just a toddler when my family took her in as a foster child," Schletzbaum said. "We had fostered children before, but when Anna became a part of my life I was beginning to explore the world around me. Her unfortunate situation made me aware of the underprivileged population that needed outreach. ... I credit my little sister with inspiring me to become an avid volunteer, which has been an integral component of my life."



Schletzbaum apparently can't wait to get started helping others. She is graduating Free State High School a year early. And although she hasn't committed to a college or university yet, she plans to double-major in political science and neuroscience so she can do nonprofit work abroad in medical research.

During her three years at Free State, Schletzbaum earned numerous academic honors. In addition to National Honor Society, she competed in debate and forensics, qualifying to the state debate tournament twice. She received the Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP) national and state recognition award, took part in the Kansas University Engineering Exposition and Model United Nations and earned the President's Award for Educational Excellence.

She also was involved in numerous clubs and activities at school, ranging from sports to Philosophy Club. She is vice president of the Young Democrats Club, a member of the math team and a member of the Link Crew, upperclassmembers who welcome freshmen and help orient them during their first year in high school. She also was active in theater, band and choir.

Outside school, Schletzbaum often spends time volunteering at Just Food and the Roger Hill Volunteer Center. And in her free time, she enjoys reading philosophy and art blogs, watching "Jeopardy" with her family and catching up on current events.

She says her most distinctive trait is curiosity in almost everything.

"I am equally enthusiastic about (Kansas University) basketball and scientific discoveries," she said. "From my political views to my music tastes, I am influenced by both extremes of the spectrum."

School: Free State High School

Grade-point average: 4.0

Class rank: 1 of 346

Parents: Paul and Stacy Schletzbaum

College and career plans: Plans to double major in political science and neuroscience, working toward a career in medical research.


For Lillian Seib, success in academics and other endeavors always has come the old-fashioned way: She works hard at it.

"At school I always completed my homework, and at basketball practice I was the first one down the court," she said. "As I got older, I understood the impact of consistent study and practice."



She says the most formative experience in school was actually one time when she didn't succeed at something. In the winter of 2012, she tried out for the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) All-State Band. Having made the band her sophomore year, she went into the tryouts confident she could do so again.

"Unfortunately, I did not do well at all," she said. "I was so bad that I did not need to wait until the following Wednesday to know I had not made the State Band. This was pretty crushing for about a week."

But Seib didn't give up. A few months later, she was preparing to play solo clarinet in regional and state music contests and, "determined not to choke again, I practiced more and also played in front of other students and adults."

She earned top ratings at those competitions, but says that even if she hadn't, she would have gotten through the disappointment knowing that she could apply that determination to other areas of life and succeed.

That was probably one of the few disappointments for Seib, who otherwise earned top academic honors at Perry-Lecompton High School, including the Kansas Honors Program, a 2013 Governor's Scholar Award, and the school honor roll all four years of high school.

In addition to band and various clubs, Seib also was on the varsity dance team, making the National Dance Association All-American Dance Team her senior year, while lettering in volleyball, basketball and track and field.

Meanwhile, her volunteer work outside of school reflects her strong interest in health care and community service. She has been active at the Jefferson County Humane Society and the Jefferson County Hospice Taste of Elegance program, and helped organize volunteers for the Perry-Lecompton High School blood drive. She also has been active in a number of church and 4-H activities.

In the fall, she plans to attend Kansas University and study health information management and business administration. Ultimately, she says, she wants to work as a hospital administrator.

School: Perry-Lecompton High School

Grade-point average: 4.09

Class rank: 1 of 73

Parents: Larry and DeAnn Hupe Seib

College and career plans: Attend Kansas University, study health information management and business administration, working toward a career in hospital administration.


if you search under Padget Sutherland's name in the Journal-World archives, you'll find a fair number of stories and photos chronicling her tennis career at Bishop Seabury Academy, sometimes paired with her sister and occasional doubles partner, Brooke.

In addition to being captain and MVP on the tennis team, she also was captain of the basketball team, captain of the cheerleading squad and a varsity soccer player.



But there was much more to Sutherland's high school experience than just sports. With a grade average that went beyond perfection (4.42), she was a commended student in the National Merit Scholarship competition, a Kansas Honor Scholar and Smith Book Award winner, and earned a summa cum laude award on the National Latin Exam.

Throughout school, Sutherland volunteered for several local programs, including various food pantries, Family Promise, Salvation Army and the Lawrence Community Shelter. Each of the past two years she also helped organize the Bishop Seabury food drive, during which several students fast for 24 hours and spend a night outside sleeping in boxes.

Sutherland gives credit to her grandmother, Norma Sutherland, for being a major inspiration in her life, "because of her incredible presence, strength, compassion and generosity."

"Through many hardships, she has maintained an impeccable sense of grace and kindness," Sutherland said of her grandmother. "Her enduring strength has been an inspiration to me and I hope to emulate this characteristic in my own life."

School: Bishop Seabury Academy

Grade-point average: 4.43

Parents: Todd and Laura Sutherland

College and career plans: Attend Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. Undecided on academic major and career.


Samantha Weiss has learned not to take anything in life for granted.

Looking around at her peers at Baldwin High School, she says there are some students who never seem to try, and others who are so gifted they don't have to. But she doesn't fall into either of those categories.



"I always do my homework, always study for my tests, even when I have no idea how I'm going to manage it," she said. "This mindset has allowed me not only to excel in my classes, but also to learn how to organize."

That hasn't always been easy for Weiss. When she was six, her father — once an energetic and athletic man - was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.

She said it was years later before she fully understood what that meant. "But it has also taught me that everyone needs help sometimes, even those who will never ask for it," she said.

Weiss' own determination helped her earn numerous academic honors. She was a National Merit commended scholar, a Kansas Honors Scholar and a Kansas Governor's Scholar.

Her freshman year, she wrote and edited her first novel, and she continues to enjoy writing poetry and short stories. She was a state qualifier in several forensics events and performed in several productions in school theater.

Weiss was also active in Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, International Club, Art Club, the Gay-Straight Alliance, National Honor Society, LINK Crew, Drama Club, Model United Nations, the soccer team and concert choir.

School: Baldwin High School

Grade-point average: 4.0

Class rank: 1 of 106

Parents: Stephen Weiss and Dr. Laura McMurray

College and career plans: Attend Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Ore.


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