By BRETT MARSHALL
When Jonathan Miller was growing up in Tribune and attending Greeley County schools, it became apparent grades were more than just a passing fancy for his classmates.
Perhaps that is why what he did on the field of athletic competition and in the classroom became a part of what defined Miller.
Miller has combined both of those into producing a successful high school resume that would be the envy of any student.
As a result, the Greeley County graduate was selected to receive the 2011 Garden City Telegram Senior Scholar-Athlete Award, one of two recipients to be chosen in the first year of the program. Miller, along with Hannah Mehl (see related story) of Wichita County, will receive a $1,000 scholarship to help defray direct college expenses (tuition and fees).
"It's nice to be recognized for the things I've done in the classroom so my work there has not gone unnoticed," Miller said. "When my class started out early on, it was the cool kids getting good grades. If you didn't get A's, you were the lowest of the lows."
Miller's athletic accomplishments have been well documented, especially over the past two years when he was named to three different Telegram All-Area teams — football, basketball and track and field — in each of his his last two years of high school.
He was a quarterback and linebacker for the Jackrabbits' football team. A forward for the basketball team that, in his senior season, won the newly-created Class 1A-Division II state championship. Then in late May, he won the Class 1A discus for the second consecutive year. In all, he earned 13 varsity letters in his four-year prep career.
"Football could have easily been my favorite sport," Miller said. "My favorite was track, I was just better at it."
In addition to his field event prowess in the discus, Miller showed versatility with his speed, placing fifth in the 1A 400-meter dash this year with a time of 52.50 seconds.
But Miller is more than just an athletic star and his classroom work demonstrates that.
He finished his four-year academic record with a 3.956 grade-point-average, ranking him third in his class of 17 students. His ACT, a standardized test taken by most high school graduates that helps determine college admissions, saw him record a score of 29 (36 is the highest). In 2010, the average score for a Kansas high school graduate was 22.
The importance of volunteer work has also been a part of Miller's upbringing. He has participated in Students Against Destructive Decisions, Science Olympiad, National Honor Society, assisted with the Red Cross Blood Drive and the Greeley County Community Workday.
"I'd rather (volunteer) than sit at home doing nothing," Miller said. "There's just a feeling of satisfaction of helping somebody else and it usually ends up benefiting me."
Miller plans to attend the University of Kansas in the fall, where he will pursue a degree in biology while participating on the KU track team, where he hopes to throw the discus and eventually land an athletic scholarship with the Jayhawks.
"I'd like to have some sort of job researching some part of athleticism and how to perform as well as you possible can," Miller said.
His favorite class in school was human anatomy and physiology, his least favorite calculus. If he could meet an historical figure, it would be Jesus, the person he most admires.
"Just because of the way he lived," Miller said of the Christian figure. "I think it would be pretty cool to learn directly from him and seeing the things that he did."
The well-rounded life that Miller has embraced beckons him to greater things in the future, he hopes.
"It's all about seeing ahead; I'm pretty big on the future," Miller said. "Whatever I've got in my future, I want to make sure I can do it to the best of my ability."
If the past is any gauge of that, then the future indeed is bright for Miller.
Notes: The remaining nominees for the boys award included Ron Baker of Scott City, Cody Bernbeck of Garden City, James Burkett of Syracuse and Heber Jimenez of Hugoton.
Jonathan Miller Bio:
High School: Greeley County, Tribune
Parents: Brian and Shelli Miller
Nominated by: Ken Bockwinkel, Principal, Greeley County High School.
Recommendation letters: Bockwinkel; Angela Woelk, GCHS counselor.
Sports/Years Played: Football (4), Basketball (4), Track (4), Cross Country (1). Varsity letters earned: 13.
Athletic Honors: Class 1A state discus champion, 2010-2011; Western Kansas Liberty League, All-League football 4 years; All-League basketball 3 years; All-League track 4 years; Garden City Telegram All-Area football 1st team 2009-2010; All-Area basketball 1st team 2010-2011; All-Area track 1st team 2010-2011.
Civic/School Organizations: Greeley County Community Work Day, Red Cross Blood Drive, Student Council, Science Olympiad, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), National Honor Society, Scholarship Testing.
Cumulative Grade Point Average/Class Rank: 3.956/3 of 17. ACT Score: 29.
Future Plans: Will attend the University of Kansas and compete in track (discus)