South Orange Kids Achieve Excellence

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south orange track starI know there a lot of towns with great stories of kids achieving notoriety for their excellence in academics and beyond. In some area towns I’ve read about selfless kids starting charities for friends with severe medical challenges. But as a South Orange resident for almost 20 years, I have been continually amazed at the level of excellence our kids achieve.

One special kid is a Columbia High School senior who is graduating very shortly. The first time I met Olivia Baker she was about two years old and her baby sitter brought her over to have a play date with my son who was about the same age. Her infectious smile was something that struck me then and continues to be infectious to everyone she comes in contact with today.

Maybe it is a sign of her inner confidence that she can “just do it,” or is a result of a nurturing, unconditionally loving family or maybe she was just born this way. But by all accounts she is a phenom. Today she is lighting up huge audiences with her record breaking track achievements. She just anchored the 800 relay and helped the Columbia High School Girls track team set a new record at the Penn Relays on April 14, 2014.

And this was no one off. She has been breaking records all over the state for several years, and is now considered the fastest high school girls runner in the state. But that’s not all. This fall she will be taking her track talents as well as her academic talents with her as she goes off to join the Stanford University freshman class of 2019. She will run track for this fine institution and is going to the Olympic trials.

She will be competing again at the Jun3 13-15, 2014 New Balance National Championships. In fact she is such a star they are using her in their promo spot on the internet. (you can see her in action here )

Her “just do it” sunny outlook applies to her academics as much as it does to her athletics. Did I mention the fact that she is also pursuing her education with the same vigilance and hopes to one day be a neuro- surgeon? I may have also forgotten to mention her parents may be some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The character of the people in South Orange continues to inspire me.

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