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Twin siblings Anna and Chas Brown

Keeping up with the Browns

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Beaufort High siblings make earning academic honors a family affair 

By Mike McCombs 

When it comes to bringing home academic honors, a pair of fraternal twin seniors at Beaufort High School are keeping it in the family this spring. 

Folklore holds that Friday the 13th is reserved for bad news. But that wasn’t so for Anna Brown. 

On Friday, Brown, who will attend Duke, learned that she was one of three South Carolina students chosen as a Presidential Scholar. 

“I was honestly very surprised when I received the email that I was selected …,” Brown said Tuesday, “but I am honored to have the opportunity to represent the Lowcountry and our community in this way. This award means a lot to me, and most importantly shows that hard work, along with luck, does pay off.” 

U.S. Presidential Scholars are high school seniors from across the nation recognized for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields. 

As directed by Executive Order, the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars are composed of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 scholars in the arts and 20 scholars in career and technical education. There were 161 students selected this year. 

A commission chooses students based on academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as a demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership.

“Anna Brown is well-deserving of this prestigious honor of being selected as a 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholar,” Beaufort High School Principal Charity Summers said in a news release. “Her hard work and dedication in her scholastic achievement has paid off for her through numerous recognitions and awards, but Anna’s academic achievements are not the only defining positive characteristic that she possesses. She has exemplary character, is an excellent athlete, and a wonderful person. I am so proud of her.”

Then on Monday, Anna Brown’s brother, Timothy “Chas” Brown, brought home an accolade of his own when he was named a National Merit Scholarship winner by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

The 2,500 Merit Scholar winners were chosen from a pool of more than 15,000 finalists in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program. The $2,500 scholarship winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners for each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

Chas was “pleasantly surprised” at the announcement and said he sees the award as confirmation that the hard work put in by students is as or more important than the reputation of the school a student attends.

“The award, to me, means that one’s high school doesn’t need a robust legacy of award winners for them to succeed,” Chas said. “That may make it easier, but in any situation, each individual has some power to set themselves up for success.”

The $2,500 can be used at the school of the winner’s choice. Chas plans to attend Princeton to study Economics.

“Other than (the money), it’s just confidence that my efforts were somehow ‘good enough’ to be recognized by a national organization,” Chas said.

Once again, Summers was praising one of her Beaufort High students in a news release.

“What makes (Chas) so special is that in addition to being among the top students in his graduating class academically, his accomplishments are certainly not limited to the classroom,” she said. “Chas is also a talented artist who consistently seeks opportunities to make a difference for our school and local community, always working for the good of others.”

Given Chas and Anna’s home life, maybe the two of them each earning individual accolades shouldn’t be a surprise. Their mother, Susan Brown, is the 4th Grade Advanced Mathematics Engineering and Science lead teacher at Beaufort Elementary School. And both maternal grandparents, as well as their paternal grandmother, are or were educators, as well.

“I have to say I am not surprised with these two now that it’s happened. Both have always loved to learn,” Susan Brown said. “I think their desire to figure things out was inspired by being read to, encouraged to ask questions and engaged in conversations at a very young age.

“They have both had excellent teachers who taught them in ways that were authentic and engaging. They have a cohort of friends who think it’s cool to like school and serve others, and through the years these friends have supported each other both academically and socially.”

Susan Brown said that having so many people in their lives that valued learning surely had a positive impact on their success in school.

“We grew up in an environment where learning was encouraged,” Anna said. “We both developed a love for school, which led to us challenging and supporting each other in all aspects of life. I think that this relationship, of having someone to look to for motivation and inspiration, definitely helped me to be successful academically.”

While Anna gave credit to her relationship with her brother and her parents, Chas also praised the independence that came from those relationships.

“Our environment at home certainly values education, but (our) parents never really pushed anything on (us),” Chas said. “They would encourage me, but I had to be the one to sign up for the club, study for the test, email the teacher, etc. That I think led me to willingly pursue education and what I value intrinsically, instead of it being a punishment.”

Mike McCombs is the Editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.

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