When I read of the achievements of young people like Sarah Andrews and Matt Salit, I shake my head and wonder how they do all that they do. Athletes, scholars, community volunteers, they approach every ask with laser focus. They are amazing.
When I read of their achievements, I also feel confident about the future of our nation.
Andrews, a senior at North Kingstown High School, and Salit, a senior at Seekonk High School, are in New York along with 10 other Wendy’s High School Heisman Finalists from around the country for Heisman Weekend. At a banquet on Friday they will learn which of them, one boy and one girl, will be the Wendy’s High School Heisman winner for 2014. All the finalists will attend the Heisman Trophy presentation Saturday night at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, where Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon or Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper will receive the 80th Heisman Trophy as the best college football player of 2014, in the opinion of a national panel of journalists and former Heisman Trophy recipients.
The High School Heisman Finalists are superstars in athletics, academics and community affairs. Andrews was captain of the 2014 North Kingstown soccer team, is on the swim team for the fourth year and has participated in track. She was the Rhode Island Interscholastic League student-athlete of the year in 2013-14.
As soccer captain this fall, she worked to develop camaraderie among the Skippers that was missing in previous years. Varsity players mentored junior varsity members and included them in activities like pre-game pasta dinners. Off the field she participates in a peer program with special needs students and teaches Spanish and music. Her birthday parties have become fundraisers for the Domestic Violence Center, and last year she raised $1,000 and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. She also played trombone in the All-State Band.
Academically, she ranks No. 1 in her class, is a member of the National and National Spanish Honor Societies, has received the Harvard Book Award, a National Merit Commendation and an Excellence in Band Award. She is a Coca-Cola National Scholars Semifinalist and Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Ambassador.
Salit is captain of the Seekonk cross-country and track teams, a two-time Massachusetts All-State selection in track, and a member of the school’s record-breaking 4x800 relay team. He ranks first in his class with a 4.0 GPA, is a member of the National and Spanish National Honor Societies and as a junior was named the Outstanding Undergraduate at Seekonk High. He has received a Harvard Book Award and a National Merit Commendation.
Salit is on the Seekonk High student council and the executive board of the Peer Helping Network. He is a member of SADD and the Key Club and attended the Harvard Leadership Institute.
What distinguishes Salit in this group of distinguished students and athletes is the National Jefferson Award for Public Service that he and his triplet brothers Brian and Tim received last spring for raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The death of a fellow track competitor, a New Bedford Vocational student, in a distracted driving accident motivated the triplets to do something about the problem. At first they concentrated on texting and driving but then expanded their focus to other distractions. They have directed two Massachusetts Teen Distracted Driving Leadership Summits for 700 students and last spring took their campaign to the Massachusetts State House, that after they had addressed the National Highway Safety Convention in Colorado.
Andrews and Salit represent the Northeast Region that comprises the New England states plus New York. The two winners from each of the other five regions present equally impressive credentials.
Andrew Miner of East Greenwich won the national Wendy’s High School Heisman in 2013.