By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published May 14, 2009
Senior Benjamin Waldron takes pleasure in pushing the envelope.
Ten years from now, he said he hopes to work at his dream job where he puts engineering and environmental science degrees to work at NASA.
“I like to be on the front line of new things,” he said after wrapping up with the AP chemistry exam at Monsignor Donovan High School. “I’d be one of the first people to learn the brand new thing (about space).”
Science was a favorite course at this small independent Catholic school. Last summer, Ben and his science class traveled to the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.
When he started at Monsignor Donovan, there were about 30 students at the school and today there are more than 100. On Saturday, May 16, school leaders will hand diplomas to 19 students.
“I’m actually amazed how fast it’s gone by. I am ready to leave at the same time,” he said. “I am looking forward to exploring new things.”
Ben is the youngest of three sons. The Waldron family moved to Athens from Florida just before Ben started high school. His father, Don, is retired and his mother, Joanne, works at the University of Georgia. The family worships at St. Joseph Church.
He will attend Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville to study civil engineering. Ben said he wants to start his college career in a place where he’ll feel comfortable after his small high school.
Along with being a charter member of the school’s National Honor Society, he is the first basketball player at the school to score 1,000 points.
The February game was the last home stand. Students packed the gym. Held scoreless through the first three-quarters of the game, the 6-foot-4-inch Waldron needed two points to reach the milestone. The moment happened in the game’s final two minutes. (He ended the season with 1,056 points.)
“Almost the whole school was there. It was loud. Basketball. That’s one of my big loves,” said Waldron, who played all four years of varsity basketball.
He got to keep the game ball. A young man with a sense of humor, he is trying to convince the powers that be to retire his jersey. Or at least give him a plaque.
His contributions on the court and in the school were recognized when he received the Vincent J. Dooley Award, given by Athletes for a Better World and the Georgia High School Association. The award winners, one boy and one girl from each high school in Georgia, are saluted for distinguished character, outstanding teamwork and citizenship.
Indeed, Waldron isn’t only about sports.
He built Stations of the Cross for his Eagle Scout project. And teachers asked him to tutor a fellow student in danger of failing the honors biology class. The student, with Ben’s help, brought the score up to a passing grade.
“It sounds a little clichéd, but it’s rewarding,” said Waldron about helping his classmate.