Collins’ Panther Pride looks good in Crimson

A.J. Collins

Austin “A.J.” Collins, valedictorian of Rappahannock County High School’s class of 2009, received a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Alabama. He is the quintessential picture of students who leave RCHS determined to impact the culture at their college or university.

A second-semester freshman, Collins represents Panther Pride in abundance. At UA, he recently was named Computer-Based Honors Program Freshman of the Year. The accolade recognizes the top freshman student in the university’s most prestigious honors program, in which students learn computer programming skills en route to completing undergraduate research.

In addition, Collins is a member of Freshman Forum, “which is a service-based student organization designed to give incoming freshmen a jump start into leadership initiatives on campus. I have the privilege of chairing the Meetings and Events Logistics Committee that coordinates all Forum meetings,” he said.

Earning a leadership position among peers is only one of the ways Collins serves the Crimson Tide. He is also the programs director of the Lakeside Hall Council. “I work directly with the president, vice president, and Programs Planning Team to design and execute programs for U of A residents. This includes an ice cream social, a board game social, Coloring for a Cause, tie-dying shirts and donating food to local food banks,” he explained.

As a member of Alabama Academic Quizbowl Team, and as the president-elect to take office at the end of this month, Collins has made his former teammates from the RCHS state champion Quiz Bowl team proud. He and his Bama team have done exceptionally well this season. They celebrated a third place finish at Alabama’s Admiral Ackbar Tournament, a first place finish (with Collins as top individual scorer) at NAQT Region V, Division II Sectionals, and a first place finish at Alabama’s MUT Tournament mirror.

This year, Collins has accepted membership in the Alpha Lambda Delta, Golden Key, Phi Kappa Phi, and Lambda Sigma national honor societies. Most recently, he received a double major with distinction award from the business school for a high GPA in economics and political science.

Beyond the academics and the campus leadership, Collins will soon spend a brief time in Costa Rica teaching English to children in the Bribri tribe and completing various service projects.

A.J. Collins is an extraordinary example of how a quality education from a high school that is determined to be “second to none” can propel a student into a bright future.

“I’m very glad to have made a bit of a difference already at Alabama and I am looking forward to the future here,” he said. — Melissa Delcour

RCHS students earn six Latin exam awards

National Latin Exam aces posing with RCHS Latin teacher James Sharpe (fourth from left) are, from left: Clayton Hatcher, Taylor Light, Tyler Crews, Britt Hipple, Cassie Meredith and Allison Stuart.

For the first time in the annals of RCHS history, students participated in the National Latin Exam (NLE) and received high honors. Latin teacher James Sharpe registered four Latin I and four Latin II students for the March exam. Overall, the candidates earned six awards in the eight exams taken.

Eighth-grader Cassie Meredith, sophomore Clayton Hatcher, and senior Taylor Light won the Cum Laude awards: Cassie for Latin I; Clayton and Taylor for Latin II. Freshman Britt Hipple and senior Tyler Crews won the Magna Cum Laude award for their scores in Latin II. Freshman Allison Stuart attained a silver medal and the Maxima Cum Laude in Latin I.

Sharpe reported that 149,000 students from 50 states (and 13 other countries) took the 2010 National Latin Exam. The test is not textbook or curriculum based; instead, Sharpe said, “it requires students to figure out answers based on their knowledge of grammar, Roman culture and history, and reading ability.” While Rappahannock finished its first semester of Latin in January, the test did not occur until March, making the number of students succeeding all the more impressive. — M.D.