09/02/04 — Fourth-grader wins college scholarship

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Fourth-grader wins college scholarship

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 2, 2004 2:00 PM

Meadow Lane Elementary School student Robert Ray Boyette has been picked for a $20,000 scholarship to use when he gets old enough to go to college.

Robert is the 12th recipient of a scholarship established for the black fourth-grader in Wayne County with the highest score on the end-of-grade test in math.

Begun in 1993 by an anonymous donor, the $20,000 scholarship is awarded annually for the student to attend Appalachian State University upon graduation from high school. The main stipulation is that the student choose to major in math or science.

Olivia Pierce, executive director for community relations, said Robert scored in the 98th percentile on the math test and in the 97th percentile on reading.

Robert said he was very surprised when he first learned that he was the high scorer on the test and acknowledged several people who had helped him achieve it.

He thanked God for blessing him, along with his parents, Ray Sr. and Miriam, and older brother Ray Jr.

Grandmother Julia Boyette of Goldsboro was also in the audience.

"I want to thank the one who donated the scholarship," he said, "and my teachers, especially my third-grade teacher, Denise Thomas, and principal, Miss Celia James.

"I think it's a great honor and I feel very privileged."

He promised to continue working hard in school to keep up his grades.

Robert said his dream job would be a game designer, working on things like phones and musical devices.

"I think I want to modify a lot of stuff," the 9-year-old said.

Ms. Thomas basked in her former student's moment.

"I'm elated," she said. "I'm delighted. He's an all-around wonderful student, a great writer, an excellent reader and, of course, excellent in math."

Donald Faison, representing the Chamber of Commerce's education committee, said everyone involved in the scholarship was a winner.

"The donor was a winner because of his willingness to reach out and help somebody in this community," he said. "ASU was a winner because they're getting a good student; the parents are winners because any concerns they have about paying for college have been resolved."

He said Robert was a winner because of the education he has been promised, and the public schools are winners because one day he may receive his degree and return to teach in the school system.

Dr. Harry Williams, associate vice chancellor for diversity at ASU, said his school is in the business of offering an education and changing lives.

"We're touching the lives of these young people, and it's so exciting to be a part of that," he said.

He also tailored his remarks to Robert's peers in the audience, drawing upon messages learned from the movie "The Wizard of Oz."

"The most important traits to have to be successful in life," he said, "are a brain, courage and a heart."

Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools, also applauded the accomplishment.

"It's a combined collaborate effort," he said. "I can't tell you how proud the Board of Education is of you, how proud the school is, and certainly how proud your parents are.

"When you finish that college degree, it opens up so many doors. I commend you for putting forth that effort."