Excellence in academics, athletics

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, March 27, 2011

High school seniors Sarah Ayers of Brookhaven and GarrettWallace of Bogue Chitto know how to balance their busy schedules inthe classroom and on the athletic field. Both of them excel inacademics and athletics, and each has earned numerous honors.

Their latest achievement is the Lindy Callahan Scholarship.Sponsored by the Mississippi High School Activities Association,the scholarship recognizes the top 16 scholar-athletes from acrossthe Magnolia State.

In a rare accomplishment for student-athletes from the samecounty, Ayers and Wallace claimed the honor for District Seven.District Seven covers Southwest Mississippi and some other countiesin the southern part of the state.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The eight MHSAA districts included over 350 nominees for thescholarships. The scholarship is worth $1,500 to each winner andwill be applied to the student’s college education.

“These kids are special because they’re able to combine theirefforts in being student-athletes,” said MHSAA Executive DirectorDr. Ennis Proctor.

He said the MHSAA has awarded around $270,000 in Callahanscholarships during the 16 years it has been active. This time theorganization awarded a total of $24,000 to the 16 winners.

The award is named in honor of Callahan, 83, a retired athleticdirector and coach who worked in the Gulfport schools for 39 years.Callahan, a member of the National High School and Mississippisports halls of fame, spoke briefly to the students during aWednesday awards program in Jackson.

Ayers, a blond and blue-eyed, 5-foot-2 athlete, is a fiercecompetitor in athletics and academics.

The 18-year-old daughter of Butch and Pam Ayers has achieved a3.98 GPA and a 26 on her ACT. She ranks second in her class of 210students and plans to major in accounting at the University ofMississippi.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Ayers when asked about the scholarshipaward. “I’m grateful for my principal (Dr. Jay Smith) fornominating me.”

Ayers said she enjoys all of her classes at BHS.

In sports, Ayers plays the outfield in slowpitch and fastpitchsoftball. She’s a sweeper on the varsity soccer team. She hasearned four varsity letters, including one in cross country.

Each nominee was required to submit a short essay.

“Sports and community activities have influenced me physicallyby teaching me to push through the difficult times to reach thegoal,” Ayers wrote. “It has taught me not to give up, even when allhope seems lost.”

Asked when she finds time to study, Ayers said she concentratesthe most between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. She likes cheesecake andAlfredo pasta.

In her free time, Ayers enjoys watching “Pretty Little Liars”and “Greek” on the ABC Family network. She also is involved in manycommunity projects.

“Sarah is a very mature young lady and she acceptsresponsibility,” said Pamela D. Brewer, her AP English instructorat BHS. “She has definite goals in life and knows what she needs toattain them.”

Ayers and her family are members of First Baptist Church inBrookhaven.

Wallace, the 17-year-old son of Kenneth and Dana Wallace, speakssoftly and swings a strong leg for the Bogue Chitto Bobcats. Heserved as the team’s placekicker and earned Class 1A All-StateFootball Team honors in 2010.

A four-sport letterman, the 5-foot-5, 145-pound senior playsguard in basketball and second base in baseball. He’s also a memberof the golf team.

Wallace sports a 4.0 GPA and has scored 26 on his ACT. He ranksfirst in a senior class of 43 students and is in line forvaledictorian honors.

Asked about his study habits, Wallace said, “You have to studyhard and make sure you take all your notes in class.”

His favorite subject is science.

He said he is undecided on his major and plans to attendCopiah-Lincoln Community College. He wants to graduate fromMississippi State University.

Wallace and his family attend Montgomery Baptist Church.

Wallace said he gets a strong start every day with a solidbreakfast of bacon and eggs. His favorite dessert is chocolatepie.

He’s familiar with those late-night study demands.

“When you have a big test and a ballgame, you have to get themboth done,” he said.

Asked about the scholarship, Wallace said is “a greathonor.”

“I didn’t realize how prestigious it was until after I got it,”he said.

Bogue Chitto English teacher Tasha Scott said Wallace is veryserious about his school work.

“He never comes to class unprepared,” she said. “He is a joy toteach and always makes class more interesting.”

In his spare time, Wallace enjoys deer and turkey hunting. Hisfavorite movie is “Facing the Giants” and his favorite TV show is”NCIS.”