Judges in the 2013 Academic All-Star competition said it was difficult to find one student to name as a winner above all the others.
"No one or two persons stood out head and shoulders from the others," said Austin Turney, a former member of the Lawrence school board who served on the judging panel. "One interesting fact is that there was not much correlation between their ACT scores and their high school accomplishments."
Also on the judging panel were Robert Harrington, a professor of psychology and research in education at Kansas University, and Rand Ziegler, vice president and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Baker University.
The Journal-World has sponsored the Academic All-Star competition each year since 1997. High school principals and counselors from Douglas County and the surrounding area nominate students for the award. The winners are selected on the basis of their academic records, extracurricular activities and an essay contest.
This year, students were asked to write an essay describing how new computer technology will change high school education over the next five years.
"The essays on uses of computers in the classroom this year were very good," Harrington said. "There were some very good writers with lots of original ideas about how teachers and students could use computers more effectivcely in the classroom."
Harrington said he also found it interesting that some of the students this year had overcome adversity and trauma in their lives to be successful.
"Several students stated that without their parents as a role model they would never have been successful," he said. "It was also interesting to note that several students want to get advanced degrees in medicine or education and do missionary work to serve underprivileged peoples around the world. Altruism was apparent."
But Harrington said the most important thing for all students to remember is that perseverance is the key to success.
"Being the best is not an imperative to success in school or in life," he said. "Not everyone can be number one, and so all students who put forth good effort and overcome adversity are winners, too."