Simply being smart has never been a guarantee of academic success. More often, good grades are earned through diligence, preparation and hard work.
Springstead High senior Zach Jacobson knows and understands all of this. That probably explains why he currently carries the highest grade point average in his class. But nothing is earned, he says, without the desire to do so.
"School is something I've always put all my effort into," says the 17-year-old. "I've always thought I owed it to myself to try and achieve as much as I'm capable of."
That extraordinary drive to achieve recently enabled Zach to earn the state's highest academic high school honor for mathematics and science in the Sunshine State Scholars competition.
The state Department of Education-sponsored competition, which was held in Tallahassee in early March, was a tough one. The six finalists were called to demonstrate their scientific knowledge and math skills by performing a research exercise identifying specific types of pests that are prone to attacking citrus trees.
"The subject was pretty obscure, so it wasn't like anyone had that much of an advantage," said Zach. "I enjoyed the whole thing because I like doing research and uncovering information about scientific subjects."
After performing their research, each student was required to write a report and take a written exam. Judges felt Zach's combined score had earned him the competition's top honor.
For Zach, perhaps the most gratifying aspect of the Sunshine State Scholars competition was that it allowed him to pay homage to two Springstead educators, calculus instructor Patrick McCulloch and physics teacher Clifford Davenport, both of whom accompanied him and his family to Tallahassee.
"They've both had a lot of influence on me," said Zach. "They understand that I like being challenged, and they made sure that I was in their classes."
With his senior year winding down, Zach, who plans to study electrical engineering, has been turning his thoughts toward college. Several, such as the University of Florida and Georgia Tech, have offered generous scholarship opportunities.
"I think my future is probably in microprocessor design," he says. "I've been playing with computers since I was a little kid, so making a career in computers would be the ultimate thing for me."
NAME: Zach Jacobson, 17, lives in Spring Hill
SCHOOL: Springstead High School
PARENTS: Graham and Marlene Jacobson
FAVORITE SUBJECT: physics
HOBBIES: computers, music