Today, the Athens Banner-Herald recognizes 10 outstanding members of the Class of 2009 — the winners of our Best & Brightest Awards. This is the first year the Banner-Herald has selected top high school seniors for this award.
We ran ballots in the newspaper inviting all to nominate students. To be considered, students needed to create an academic resume, submit a letter of nomination from a non-family member as well as pen an essay on the topic, “What worries me most about my generation? What have I done to address my concerns?” All area schools were eligible.
The newspaper received almost 25 nominations. From this group, representatives from the Banner-Herald’s editorial, marketing and executive staff selected the 10 finalists profiled in this section. Those finalists interviewed before a panel of higher education heavy hitters— Joyce Sansing, Athens Tech vice president of academic affairs; Patrick Winter, University of Georgia senior associate director for admissions; Linda N. Smith, Piedmont College assistant to the vice president; and Mary Carney, Gainesville State College assistant professor of English. Those judges then picked our winners — two $100 scholarships and one $500 grand prize.
The Top 10 are pictured here (in photographs taken by Banner-Herald photographer Tricia Spaulding). Some are valedictorians or salutatorians, but most are not. In addition to academic performance, students were selected for their
participation in extracurricular activities, community service, leadership and good character. The summaries in this section contain only a portion
of the many activities and accomplishments that filled their nomination forms.
Thanks to all who helped make this section a great success. But most of all, best of luck in the future to not only our nominees, but to all our graduating seniors. It’s a big exciting world out there.