High flyer headed to Air Force Academy

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- What's the most lucrative college scholarship for graduating high school seniors? An argument can be made that it's an appointment to one of the U.S. military service academies, an education valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This week's Fox 4 Young Achiever has earned one of them as an "in demand" future cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Another ceremony, another award. They're getting pretty common for Grant Watkins Davis. The latest one was the Independence Rotary Club to receive Fort Osage High School Student of the Month honors.

"I think everyone appreciates when other people acknowledge that they've worked hard and they've accomplished something," says Grant. And in his Rotary Club presentation, Grant announced his newest accomplishment, a big one, an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy, something pursued by several thousand high school seniors each year.

"It's a fantastic school academically," says Grant. Grant is captivated by space and wants to study aerospace engineering. The Air Force Academy is always ranked among the top schools in the country for that.

"I'm already very interested in a military career," he said. "They are going to give me the kind of education I want. Why not go for that?"

Grant is actually getting to the Air Force Academy in rare fashion, with not one but two Congressional nominations. That's very unusual. And Grant was in demand by the U.S. Naval Academy, too.

"It's a whole different stage," says Grant. "I was so ecstatic when I got the first nomination. I first got word from (Missouri) Congressman (Sam) Graves, that I'd received his nomination. And after that, it was about a month later when I found out from (Missouri U.S.) Senator (Claire) McCaskill that I'd also received her nomination. That just put the icing on the cake."

Grant is exactly the kind of high-achieving high school student the service academies drool over. Terrific academics and athletics, strong leadership and a wide variety of activities and interests.

"Definitely Academy material, even as a middle schooler," says Fort Osage High School history teacher Josh Malecki of Grant.

Malecki first encountered Grant when he was a seventh grader and was a star of the Fort Osage Middle School Scholar Bowl team Malecki coached. Now Malecki is coaching Grant on the high school team that's heading for the National Scholar Bowl tournament, the first time Fort Osage has ever qualified for that.

"He has skills in all areas," says Malecki. "It didn't surprise me at all that he was looking to go to the Academy. He covers all areas of education. He's a teacher's dream." Now this "teacher's dream", who has challenged himself for years at all levels, is turning his dream into reality.

"We start doing these types of things, gifted classes, all these extra-curriculars, we start when we are so young," says Grant. "And it really goes to show, it does make a difference when it comes down to what you really want and how you're going to get there in life." Hard work -- paying off big.

Grant will report to the Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., for basic training in late June and then will begin classes in August. Before that, however, he and the rest of the Ft. Osage Scholar Bowl team will go to College Park, M.D. in early June to compete in the PACE National Scholastics Championship.

Fox 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Monday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m., every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 5 p.m.

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