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Cheers heard in gym, but not for sports

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

The grandfather stood at the lectern during the West Brunswick High School Senior Awards Program and with pride announced the winner of a scholarship from the organization he represented: his grandson.

When they hugged, it seemed as if everyone else in the gym also felt the embrace.

For most of the morning, the emotion was the same as dozens and dozens of scholarships were awarded to the WBHS Class of ’08.

In high school sports, such emotion is displayed whenever there is a game-winning hit or a game-winning basket or an unexpected victory. The victories are celebrated in public and written about in the newspaper. The best high school athletes become as well-known as public figures.

It makes a sportswriter forget there are students besides athletes at high schools, there are teachers besides coaches at high schools, there is an academic side that is the primary role of high schools.

So while not every A on a Spanish test or every A on calculus test or every A in any advanced-placement class gets the same coverage as a three-point field goal in a basketball game or a 4-for-4 day in a baseball game, it is no less important.

The presentation of the scholarship awards May 28 made that evident.

The scholarship money ranged from $500 to full tuition. It came from families and it came from colleges. It came from businesses and it came from the military. One student made at least five trips to the stage to accept scholarship awards. Another student made one short walk in accepting a full-tuition scholarship.

One presenter handed a scholarship to someone she had known since the student was 3. The Union High School class of 1957 endowed another scholarship.

The most poignant scholarships were the personal ones. As the parents of Justin Davis presented the Justin Davis Memorial Scholarship, the mother held a framed color photograph of Justin.

The scholarship was awarded to a student who showed the same “love of God’s green Earth” that Justin did, and it was awarded to a friend of Justin.

Another presenter gave an inaugural scholarship in memory of her recently deceased husband. The pain of the loss was still in her voice as she briefly talked about the reason for the scholarship.

It was ironic, of course, that the senior awards program took place in the gym, the symbol of athletics, the place where sportswriters telescope the student body to a few dozen athletes and make it seem as if they are the entire senior class.

The senior awards program was an excellent chance for the public to see the less visible side of the school, to see success measured not in points scored but in scholarship money earned. It was a well-deserved chance for the seniors not in athletics to finally hear for themselves the cheers so common after a victory in a volleyball match or a victory in a wrestling match, to hear the same cheers received by Jordan Clear, the West Brunswick Female Athlete of the Year, and Josh Sergent, the West Brunswick Male Athlete of the Year.

Michael Paul is sports editor of the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or sports@brunswickbeacon.com.