By Curt Yeomans
Braeden Orr is no stranger to national recognition.
As a member of Jonesboro High School's national championship-winning mock trial team, he's already discovered what it is like to be one of the top performing students in the United States.
However, Orr found out last week that he has been admitted to the National Society of High School Scholars. The program, which honors students for high academic achievement, was started in 2002 by the Nobel family -- the same Nobel family which established the Nobel Prizes.
"It's really cool to be recognized on a national level, especially by the Nobel family," said Orr, who is a sophomore at Jonesboro.
Claes Nobel, the chairman of the NSHSS, invites students to join his organization if they have been identified as qualified candidates for membership. The invitees can then apply for membership in the organization. The NSHSS contacts schools to find sophomores, juniors and seniors during the second semester of the school year to find out who has a 3.5 cumulative Grade-Point Average or higher.
Orr has a 4.0 GPA, despite also devoting a large portion of his time to being on Jonesboro's mock trial team, maintaining memberships in the National Honor Society, BETA Club and Latin Club, and performing as the school mascot at football and basketball games.
Students who join the society are eligible to apply for scholarships and participate in academic competitions and various programs designed to help them develop their leadership, academic and service skills.
"On behalf of NSHSS, I am honored to recognize the hard work, sacrifice and commitment that Braeden Orr has demonstrated to achieve this exceptional level of academic excellence," said Claes Nobel in a statement from the NSHSS. "[He] is now a member of a unique community of scholars - a community that represents our very best hope for the future."
DeAnna Orr, Braeden's mother, said her son has always been able to retain vast amounts of information. Her son said he has a photographic long-term memory, and does not have to spend much time studying outside the classroom because he pays close attention to what his teachers say during lectures.
"I had a friend who, when he [Braeden] was young, said to me 'Geez, Braeden is like a sponge, he remembers everything he hears someone say,' " DeAnna Orr said.
Orr is a year ahead of his classmates in both math and science because he took honors-level courses in both subjects when he attended Jonesboro Middle School. He is looking forward to taking a second year of Latin, and Advanced Placement (AP) chemistry next year, because those classes are taught by mock trial coaches Anna and Andrew Cox, respectively.
He is particularly looking forward to taking U.S. history during his junior year because he is a self-proclaimed "history buff." He spent his entire Memorial Day weekend watching History Channel programs on World War II, and he is eager to do a more in-depth examination of the war next year in a classroom.
"I just like learning about the obscure stuff you don't hear about every day ... that stuff is just really cool to me for some reason," Orr said.
Orr is not the only new NSHSS member with Clayton County ties, though. Robert Trotter, the son of Metro Association of Classroom Educators (MACE) President John Trotter, and a student at Landmark Christian School in Peachtree City, was also admitted to the organization.