Hard work has been paying off athletically and academically for Augusta Preparatory Day School senior Nolan Brandon.
Brandon helped lead the Cavaliers to their first state football championship in the fall and is a member of the boys basketball team that won the 2014 Georgia Independent School Association Region 4-AAA championship.
Off the field, Brandon is a member of the school’s math team, has been accepted and will be attending the U.S. Naval Academy in the fall and was honored Thursday night as the 2014 Columbia County STAR Student.
Brandon was named the county’s STAR Student after posting the highest SAT score – 2,360 out of 2,400 – with a 3.95 grade-point-average.
Brandon, whose favorite subject is calculus, has found a way to balance his academics and athletics.
“I just have to do my work before practice or after practice, just get it in when I can,” Brandon said. “I’m busy all the time and I’ve just gotten used to that. It will definitely serve me well next year.”
A member of the math team, Brandon was looking forward to his trip to the College of Charleston on Saturday for a college math meet the day after the Cavaliers won the region basketball title.
“It’s fun spending the day doing math with friends and just hanging out, I really enjoy it,” Brandon said.
Brandon and his friends have found a way to pigeonhole his varied interests.
“We’ve always described it as an oxymoron, the whole jock-nerd thing,” Brandon said. “It’s kind of humorous.”
Tim Shafer has been the STAR Teacher 10 times and knows what it takes to reach STAR Student status.
“Everything about him makes him a STAR Student,” said Shafer. “He’s achieving at the highest end of all his academic courses. I’m privileged to get to teach him in advanced AP calculus. He’s taken advantage of every opportunity the school gives him, like with our math team and other opportunities to pursue academic excellence.”
Brandon is equally as impressed with Shafer, who teaches his favorite course.
“He’s (Shafer) just really excited about it,” Brandon said. “He just knows his stuff and he knows how to get you to learn it. He knows how to get you interested in it, and that’s really what matters. If you have trouble, he’ll explain it to you over and over until you get it. He is just dedicated.”
Brandon had some big shoes to fill at Augusta Prep, following behind his brother Hutton, who won county and region STAR Student three years ago and made it to the state level.
“That was definitely a big drive for me to do as well as I could,” Brandon said, adding that his brother helped him improve his SAT score. “He encouraged me and taught me how to study correctly and I improved my score greatly. I really am thankful for my brother. I would be nowhere close to where I am today without my brother’s help.”