by Diana Basnakian, Staff Writer
Imagine: students file into a class, sit down, and pull out their pencils. Soon the teacher starts the lesson, confusing them in some areas, enlightening them in others. Suddenly, an eager classmate raises his hand with such force that he almost falls over with excitement. The teacher acknowledges his hand and says something like, “Yes, (insert name here)?” At first the students listen to their classmate’s question, following along and understanding exactly what he means. It only takes about a minute though, before the student’s profound query confuses all of his fellow classmates. The best part: the student manages to ask such an abstract question, it seems even beyond the wisdom of the teacher, who then finds herself trying to make up an answer, pretending like she knows what she’s talking about.
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it always seems to be the same person who has his fellow classmates questioning their purpose in school: junior Andrew Labay. If his name is mentioned around Central, most students responded, along the lines of, “oh yeah, that kid who’s going to discover the cure for cancer?”
Andrew doesn’t come to school solely because he has to. Central is his oyster for enlightenment, his place to feed his ultimate passion: science.
To Andrew, science isn’t a class, but an explanation of how the world operates. Andrew believes that every class circles back to science, whether it’s math, English, or history. Science has always been so satisfying for Andrew because it provides answers for all of his burning questions.
“As a kid, I would always ask my parents the question ‘Why?’ to the point where they got so tired of it,” Andrew said. “With science, all my questions are answered, and I don’t have to ask anybody.”
Although Andrew has a brain for science, his heart for science is even greater.
“He’s very energetic and enthusiastic about learning, and he always looks at things from different angles. Often times, I feel like his energy keeps other students awake,” chemistry teacher Beth Maris said.
But it’s not just textbook science, or science that he learns from a teacher’s lecture that invigorates Andrew. Andrew is most concerned with the application of science: how does this apply to real life, and how can this knowledge be used to cure a fatal disease two decades from now. Most students are simply struggling with deciding what they’ll have for lunch that day; meanwhile Andrew is thinking ahead, years ahead.
With a heart for science as big as Andrew’s, success is expected. Andrew has been competing in science fair since the third grade, and every year he has placed in first, second, or third place. This past February, Andrew was accepted into the prestigious Future Medical Leaders of America conference in Washington, D.C, where he participated in fundamental scientific research alongside the best scientific professors in the country, as well as other passionate students. Last year, Andrew also won the Biology Student of the Year award.
And when it comes to overall extracurricular activities, Andrew is a well-rounded individual. Since the sixth grade, he has been playing instruments, such as the trumpet and French horn. He is currently an active member of Central’s band, where he plays the French horn.
“Band is a good way for artistic expression, especially for those who aren’t artistically gifted, such as myself,” Andrew said. “Even though I can’t translate my emotions into drawings, I can through sound.”
Aside from science and band, Andrew is excels in his other subjects – history, math, or whatever it may be, it’s guaranteed Andrew can tackle it all.
“Andrew is very committed to doing his best on everything he does. He shows great leadership; he helps make Central the best school in the world,” Memory Project sponsor and civics teacher Keith Richardson said.
Perhaps the best thing about Andrew is his welcoming personality. Among his numerous talents and achievements, Andrew is widely acknowledged as an all-around fantastic person.
“Andrew’s one of those people who you’re automatically attracted to,” junior Kamri McKee said.
Among many other reasons, Andrew is widely appreciated because of his never-ending optimism. Rarely does one ever come across a depressed Andrew.
“I’ve never seen Andrew be mean or stingy; he is always a piece of sunshine in my class. No matter how tired he is, he’s still happy; he doesn’t let anything cloud over his life,” English teacher Sarah Shutte said.
And although Central has around 2,500 students, even Principal Nancy Rousseau recognizes his name.
“Andrew is a keeper! He is an example of the legacy of excellence that we have here at Central,” Rousseau said.
After his high school career, Andrew plans on attending the University of Texas and majoring in biochemistry. By studying biochemistry, Andrew hope’s to create cures for some of the most tragic diseases.
“I don’t care if I get credit for, say, creating a vaccination; I just want it to be out there and for it to help others, whether I created it or not,” Andrew said.
Judging by his vast number of accomplishments thus far, there’s no telling what he will accomplish ten years from now.
“Andrew is an amazing guy, I can’t wait to see what he’s going to turn out to be,” Shutte said.
For now though, Andrew continues to delight his friends, impress his teachers, and serve as an example of immense passion for Central students.