April will mark the 20th class of the Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team. Since 1995, we’ve sent nomination forms to school districts and high schools throughout the state and, with the help of a team of judges with years of experience working in education, whittled down the hundreds of nominations we receive into a team of 20 of the top students in the state. 

Here’s how we described the creation of the award back in 1995:

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The public hears plenty about young people these days. Dead in drive-by shootings. Arrested with drugs. Falling behind in standardized test scores. Pregnant. Unemployed.

When the media focuses on positive achievements of teen-agers, the subject is most often athletics. Say a football all-star team or the next potential basketball millionaire.

Scholarship winners and valedictorians get a little newspaper space, usually in small type in the back pages. You’ll wait a long time before seeing such news lead a television newscast.

The Arkansas Times has heard the complaints from parents and educators of the silent majority — the kids who go to school, do their homework (most of it, anyway), graduate and go on to be contributing members society. And we agree: They deserve news coverage, too.

So we decided several months ago to honor the best of this year’s crop of high school seniors, the success stories of education in Arkansas. It was, as best we could tell, an unprecedented effort.

Now that a good number of past All-Stars are well into their professional careers, and since we’re at a milestone year, we’re hoping to track down as many alumni as possible. If you know a former All-Star, can you help put us in touch. Send me an email with the subject “ALL-STAR” with any info that you have. Here’s a searchable database of all the past winners. Read the profiles of past winners here. It’ll likely make you feel like you were a slacker in high school.

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