TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 2020 Best & Brightest Awards have officially begun looking for the Best & Brightest High School Seniors in Leon County. The program kicked off its annual recognition program with a gathering of key school leaders at WFSU for a breakfast featuring public and private school principals and guidance counselors from across the county.
With the celebration of the 15th Anniversary, a new Best & Brightest logo was revealed with the tagline “Celebrating 15 years of student service & academic success.”
The program is now accepting applications from Leon County’s “best and brightest” high school seniors, who will have a chance to claim a share of $55,000 in total scholarships across 15 categories of scholastic achievement and community service. Students are encouraged to submit applications to their school guidance counselor in order to qualify before the January 30, 2020, deadline.
“The example set by our ‘Best & Brightest’ young leaders is an inspiration for our entire community,” said Ron Sachs, CEO of Sachs Media Group and founder and sponsor of the Best & Brightest. “We’re looking for our next group of outstanding students with notable records of commitment, achievement and a demonstrated track record of service.”
Since Best & Brightest creation, 1970 students from Leon County schools have received $684,000 in scholarship support. Major scholarships are awarded to three countywide winners in each of 15 different categories: $1,500 scholarships for the first-place winners, $750 for runners-up and $500 for honorable mention honorees. The program also awards $100 cash scholarships to all school-based winners through Envision Credit Union, the program’s premier sponsor.
“Envision considers the Best & Brightest Awards to be one of our top priorities, and we are proud to participate in this event from day one,” said Darryl Worrell, President and CEO of Envision Credit Union. “The Best & Brightest reflects the academic drive and community involvement that Leon County students are known for.”
Home-schooled and Virtual School students are eligible to enter the program, joining public and private school students chosen by school principals, guidance counselors and teachers. Applications are accepted in each of 15 categories: Art; Athletics; Business; Career/Technical; Drama & Performing Arts; English and Language Arts; World Languages; Journalism & Media Production; Leadership; Mathematics; Music; Public Speaking; Science & Health; Social Science; and Technology.
Students are also judged based on their school involvement and leadership, and a special focus is placed on community service. Recipients of a Best & Brightest Award are always students who have gone above and beyond the minimum community service hours required by their school, and have shown that they truly understand the importance of giving back to their community on a regular basis.
After faculty and staff identify them, school-based winners will undergo a rigorous review and interview process, conducted next February 29th by a judging panel of community leaders. The judges will take numerous factors into account, including achievements in the individual field of study but also interview skills, overall academic success and, especially, a demonstrated track record of community service. Through this procedure, three top students will be selected as the countywide winner, runner-up and honorable mention in each category.
“Each year the finalists prove to me that our community has the finest students” said Laura Rogers, program director at World Class Schools of Leon County and coordinator of the Best & Brightest Awards program. “Not only do they excel in the classroom but selflessly dedicate their time by giving back to their schools and the community. These students are the best of the best in many different areas which makes them so deserving of recognition.”
Eighth-grade students, including those who are home-schooled and Virtual School students, will have their own opportunity to be honored as the “best and brightest” of their age group, through a prompted essay contest. For the ninth year running, eighth-graders will be eligible for recognition in the form of a $500 award to the winner, $250 to the runner-up and $100 to the honorable mention honoree.
For more information on the Best & Brightest Awards, visit www.wcsleon.com/bestandbrightest