Today, we introduce you to some amazing teenagers. The members of the 2011-12 Daily Herald Academic Team all have grades and test scores so stellar they could blind; they are all among the tops in their graduating classes. But when you read past the test scores, and the honors and awards, what you find are humble young people, dedicated to learning and intent on using education to further their goals.
"Everything that Alex has accomplished to date ranks a distant second to who he is as a person," writes one sponsor in the letter of recommendation schools had to submit for each candidate.
"She not only has the academic character but the leadership and personal character to match," writes another sponsor.
Public and private high schools in the Daily Herald readership area were invited to nominate a maximum of two graduating seniors for this award. Seventy-one schools nominated 119 students, and from them four teams were named -- in the Northwest suburbs, DuPage County, Lake County and the Fox Valley.
The Academic Team highlights student achievement, and grades and test scores are a big part of how that is weighed. But grades are not the only measure of achievement. Maturity and leadership, ambition and empathy all play a role. And as you peruse this year's team and the honorable mentions, you will not doubt that these outstanding young people have it, in spades.