celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

One student, many hats

History, choir on long list of teen's interests

By Philip Stake

By all outward signs, Dustin Janssen has no trouble learning. He will graduate from River Road High School this month seventh in a class of 86, with an overall grade-point average of almost 97 percent.

He will attend Abilene Christian University in the fall, his parents' alma mater. Like his father, who teaches history at River Road, Janssen finds the subject fascinating.

"I plan on staying in school until I receive my doctorate in ancient history, and maybe archaeology, too," he said.

The 2008 recipient of the AB Barret and Sybil B. Harrington scholarships said he'd like to teach at the university level one day.

He is a member of National Honor Society, a service-based organization to which he gives his time and energy to support charities like the March of Dimes.

Janssen is also a member of the River Road Science Bowl team, which competes in rounds of trivia against other bright minds in the Panhandle to win money for his school.

For the past two years, Janssen has broadened his skill set as a student athletic trainer. But to continue at the university level, he said he would have to change his major.

Since sixth grade, Janssen has been a key member of the school choir. He said he can sing soprano, alto and tenor, but most often, he sings bass. He plans to continue in the choir throughout college.

When he isn't working on a solo, volunteering, brushing up on his science knowledge or buried in books, Janssen plays Go, a 4,000-year-old Chinese board game (known as Wei Ch'I in China and Baduk in Korea). The game rivals backgammon as the oldest board game still played in its original form, according to the American Go Association Web site, www.usgo.org.

Like chess, the game challenges the intellect and teaches concentration, balance and discipline, according to the Web site. This summer Janssen said he will be attending a U.S. Go conference in Portland, Ore., where he hopes to improve his mastery of the game.

During the summer, Janssen usually helps his father and grandfather at their automobile repair shop.

River Road Principal Andy Nies called Janssen "a very active student leader." Nies, who used to be principal at Rolling Hills Elementary School, has known him for years and watched him grow through the years.

Celebrate Education is a yearlong community project to encourage lifelong learning and help raise the education level in the Texas Panhandle.

Editor's note: The Amarillo Globe-News is profiling a student a day from May 9-29 as part of its 2008 graduation coverage. Students were nominated by Globe-News readers.

calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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