It’s not common for a high school student to list one of their peers as their role model and it’s even more uncommon for a high school student to list two of their peers as a role models.
But when Madison Park BSA Zone Facilitator Breanna Akama nominated Paris Thomas for the April Scholar-Athlete of the Month award, she asked the junior cheerleader and softball player who her favorite athlete was.
Thomas’s answer: Madison Park junior twins Krystal and Amber Edwards.
“Krystal and Amber are very inspirational, they play three different sports and they keep their grades up and are honor roll,” Thomas said after being named April’s Scholar Athlete of the Month earlier this week. “They encourage me to stay up that late [to finish my homework].”
Thomas — who improved her GPA from a 1.27 as a freshman to a 3.22 as a sophomore (where it currently hovers) — was also inspired when Krystal Edwards became the first ever Scholar Athlete of the Month from Madison Park this past February.
“If she can do it, if she’s my biggest role model, than I can do it,” Thomas said. “It meant a lot because it made me feel like I reached my goals, which was playing a sport and maintaining my grades to be good. For the first time to actually be awarded for something good, it felt good being awarded for something good.”
The twins also encouraged Thomas to come out for softball this season for the first time ever.
Akama said Thomas has also made her biggest improvements in the classroom over the past few months. Since November, she has logged 121.7 hours in the Zone.
“She is a student that has consistently been in the Zone almost every day since the beginning of the year,” Akama said. “She, despite some personal challenges going on at home, has really turned things around, especially the last few months.
“She’s a leader. She’s very outspoken but in a good way, not a bad way. She’s assertive. The students really look to her but also I was looking at her transition and her improvement from freshman year to last year. It’s been a marked improvement. And this year, her first season playing softball, she’s pitching so well.”
Akama, who is a first-year Zone facilitator, said winning the Scholar Athlete of the Month is empowering for any student.
“It makes them feel like what they are doing isn’t going unnoticed, the hard work they are putting in isn’t for nothing,” she said. “What they are doing is noteworthy and should be acknowledged.”
Thomas also excels at math and her goal is to attend a four-year university before going to medical school.
She wants to be a pediatrician.
“It feels amazing to know that I have that,” she said of the award, “because I plan to go to college.”
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- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.