Jack Wright - National Merit Scholar Finalist

BHS Senior Named National Merit Finalist

Jack Wright - National Merit Scholar Finalist
Jack Wright in BHS math department head Kelly Javier’s classroom. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Wright stuff: 3-sport athlete maintains high GPA, has time left for PS4

By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit

Compared to high school, college is a shock to the system for many freshmen. But when Jack Wright starts attending the University of Missouri this fall, he might feel a bit of relief.

Jack Wright was a forward on the BHS soccer team. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

A senior at Brentwood High School, Wright has racked up a grade-point average of 4.25 and is No. 1 in his class. And get this: he’s done it along with being a three-sport athlete – soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. Also, he was in the robotics club this year and was on the speech and debate team for two years.

When he starts at Mizzou it will be the first time in years he’ll be free to concentrate solely on academics. No more daily practices, 25-game seasons or weeknight bus excursions into Jefferson County.

High GPA the Hard Way

So how does a three-sport jock wrangle such a high GPA? By padding his schedule with easy classes? No way. In the past two years Wright has taken so many college-credit courses that he’ll enter Mizzou as, technically, a sophomore.

And then there’s his SAT score. For the nearly 2 million students who took the test last year, which measures math, writing and critical reading, the average score was about 1,500 out of a possible 2,400. Wright scored 2,140.

Wright played center on the BHS basketball team. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Merit Scholarship, Top 100 Seniors

His SAT results have earned him some awards in the past month. It’s a major reason why he was named a National Merit Scholarship finalist, the first at BHS since Ilona Kiss in 2011. He’s one of 15,000 finalists and he’ll soon learn whether he makes the cut to the 8,000 who receive scholarship money.

Wright’s SAT and GPA have also landed him on the Missouri Scholars 100, which honors the state’s top 100 seniors. Bestowed by the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals, the award’s criteria also include class rank, attendance, citizenship, school activities and upper-level courses in math, science, English and foreign language.

Neither of the awards surprises his favorite teacher.

“There is absolutely no doubt that what he sets his mind to will happen,” said BHS math teacher Kelly Javier.

Wright plans to set his mind to something involving math and science, his best subjects.

“I want to be an engineer of some type and right now I’m leaning towards biomedical engineering,” he said.

Jack’s parents Robin and Mark,and brother Tom, served as scorekeepers at the BHS trivia night last weekend to raise money for a graduation party in May. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Making Things ‘Jack Pace’

Wright grew up in Brentwood with his brother Tom, who is about to graduate from the University of Missouri and enter law school. Their father Mark is a veterinarian for the Humane Society. Their mother Robin Duntze, also a Mizzou graduate, teaches veterinary technology at Jefferson College.

Javier started teaching Jack as a freshman. She’s used to having advanced students but she quickly realized he was special.

“Mathematically he’s head and shoulders above all of us, myself included,” she said. “I have to make things Jack pace so he doesn’t get bored. In his four years here I taught him two-and-a-half years and he taught me one-and-a-half.”

Underneath Wright’s quiet demeanor is a fierce competitive drive. When asked how it felt to be a National Merit Scholarship finalist, he smiled slightly and said in his low, quiet voice, “My brother was a semifinalist so being a finalist is nice because I can kind of rub it in his face.”

Doing Homework at School

Somehow he has maintained a stratospheric GPA despite playing in three varsity sports. He was a forward in soccer, a 6-feet 4-inch center in basketball and now an outfielder in baseball. That’s more than 60 games in one school year.

“I’ve had an academic lab [90 minutes] for the past couple of years and it’s really helped,” he said. “With it, my home room period and lunch, I try getting as much homework done during school as possible. And then whatever I have left I finish after dinner, but it usually doesn’t take more than an hour or two tops.”

Wright eyes a pitch in a BHS varsity baseball game last spring. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Time for Killzone

He said he usually has time for a couple of hours of video games after that. His latest fave is the PlayStation 4 game Killzone Shadow Fall. It’s a science fiction shooter game set in the year 2300, so does he look for science and math elements in his games?

“Oh no,” he said. “I play games to relax.”

Somehow Wright also has time for TV and movies. His all-time favorite show is “The Wire” and he has also kept up on “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones.”

Wright eyes the pitcher after reaching base in a game last season. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

‘He’s Going to Be Amazing’

Javier can’t wait to see what Wright does with his life.

“He’s been stretched pretty thin here, being a three-sport athlete and being involved in all kinds of things, which takes a lot of time,” she said. “Once he finds his passion and it really settles in, he’s going to be amazing.”

She smiled and motioned to him across a table in her classroom.

“Just look at him, he doesn’t know what that fire feels and looks like yet. But he’ll get to a place where he’s under the tutelage of a really inspiring professor who’s doing some kind of work where Jack says, ‘Oh yeah, that’s me.’”

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