If there's one word to describe David Szerlip, it would have to be "focused."
"David is such a good kid, and he works hard," said Randy Hill, head football coach and athletic director at Lakeside High School, where David is a senior. "He's very focused."
A member of the Panthers' varsity football team, meritorious member of the National Honor Society, member of the Beta Club, chair of the Lakeside High School Honor Council and other clubs almost too numerous to count, Szerlip also is ranked in the top 12 of his class.
"I like to focus on everything," said David, the 16-year-old son of Drs. Harold and Molly Szerlip of Martinez and Marjorie Szerlip of New Orleans, La.
David is interested in restarting the defunct Young Democrats Club at his school, saying he feels like everyone should know what is going on, from the fighting in Iraq to economics and foreign politics.
"I just want to relate to people who know what is going on in the world around them," he said. "Young people really are becoming more interested in world affairs."
A student of the French language since the first grade, David hopes to use his language skills to work in international relations or political science.
Lakeside senior David Szerlip meets one-on-one with his French V teacher Jane Elliott for a few minutes each day before he goes to the media center to complete his lessons. David is the only student taking French V in Colum-bia County schools.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I think everybody should have some knowledge of a foreign language," said David, who has visited Europe twice - once as a seventh-grader and the second time this summer.
This year, David is taking a French V class at Lakeside High, the first time such a course has been offered at the school. David was interested in advancing his knowledge of French literature and grammar, and in talking with Lakeside High French teacher Jane Elliott he had high hopes that he would be able to do so through an independentstudy class this year. A week before the start of school, David learned that the French V class he had planned to take was not going to work out.
"I told my counselor that I didn't understand," David said. "I had a teacher who was willing to teach, and I had an open class period."
Elliott put together a course curriculum and class goals and gave them to school principal Jeff Carney to present to the Columbia County Board of Education. The class was approved for an independent study for David.
"There aren't a lot of students I will do this for," said Elliott, who has taught French for more than 35 years. "David is awfully dear, and he has a great deal of intelligence and is very motivated. He does well in everything. Sometimes I think it's a little too easy for him."
U.S. history teacher Marsie Anderson taught David last year. She calls him "articulate" and "inquisitive."
"He seeks assistance when he thinks he needs improvement, and he's really open to suggestions," Anderson said. "He has a wonderful sense of humor and is very personable."
These days, David is hoping to be named president of the Lakeside High French Club and is planning for college. He's already applied to several schools and plans to send applications to Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and other Ivy League colleges. His top choices, however, are the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Brown University in Providence, R.I.
Wherever he ends up, David wants to remain focused and make an impression on everyone he encounters.
"David brings a lot to the team," Hill said. "He is consistent and is a hard worker. He adds a lot of character to the team."
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