Baskin trifecta leads Class of 2016

BY GLYNIS CRAWFORD SMITH/THE HIGHLANDER
Standing together after Marble Falls High School honors announcements Thursday, May 19, are the three top graduates of the Class of 2016. From right to left, they are William “Liam” Baskin, valedictorian; his brother, Wiley R. Baskin, salutatorian; and their sister, Terrill Baskin, ranked third in the class.

BY GLYNIS CRAWFORD SMITH

THE HIGHLANDER

The announcement of valedictorian and salutatorian was the climax of Marble Falls High School Scholarship Awards Program Thursday, May 18—a big announcement, but perhaps not the biggest story.

William “Liam” Baskin was ranked valedictorian of the Class of 2016 and his brother, Wiley R. Baskin, was salutatorian. Close on their heels was their sister, Terrill Baskin, third in the class. It was a trifecta seldom seen.

Liam's grade point average was 7.251; Wiley's, 7.133, and Terrill was a close third, 7.0831.They will graduate together at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 28, in ceremonies at Mustang Stadium (or Max Copeland Gymnasium in case of inclement weather).

The Baskin siblings have grown up running neck and neck. Liam and Wiley, 19, are fraternal twins and could have been expected to go through school together.

Then Terrill placed into fourth grade at Faith Academy and joined her (then) horrified brothers,” said their mother, Susan Baskin. “They quickly came to love the arrangement and have spent the bulk of their school years in the same classes.”

Steve and Susan bought Camp Champions at Highland Haven in 1995 and raised the three seniors and their sister Virginia, now 15, at the camp.

She is already mourning their loss,” said Susan.

Liam is taking his full-ride valedictorian scholarship off to The University of Texas at Austin.

Both he and winner of the Terrill have been admitted to the dual, Business Honors and Plan II program at UT, to be among just 700 students, only 200 of which made the grade for Plan II admission, each year. The first detractions of UT Austin was size and proximity to home.

It was clear there was no other choice for me,” said Liam, after meeting with faculty and alumni from the two programs. “The personal attention and opportunities are unequaled at any other school in the country.”

That choice didn't break the intention of all three to attend a small college, according to Liam: “They are essentially a small school with a big school.”

Wiley was a winner of one of the coveted $2,500 National Merit Scholarships for 2016. He is off to Davidson College in North Carolina, becoming the fifth Baskin to attend. The dean of students, in fact, conducted his parents' wedding ceremony.

It is a very small school where professors routinely invite students into their homes and students are actively encouraged to study a broad range of subjects, rather than specialize,” said Susan.

Wiley expects experiences like those in former teacher Joseph Gordy's class in Marble Falls: “Mr. Gordy, expected that we would learn all the material on our own and then spent class time discussing the applications of what we learned.  He used class time for rich discussion and I respected that he assumed a level of competence on our part to learn the material on our own.”

Travel has been a big part of the Baskins' lives and all three graduates have received permission from their respective colleges to take a gap year and enroll in 2017.

The family will complete their goal of backpacking through all continents but Antarctica. Back by late winter, Wiley will work as an outdoor education instructor, Terrill will live in Northern Spain with a family and teach ballet (in Spanish since all the Baskins have studied immersion-style) and Liam is working on an independent study project for UT.

Family travel has yielded some of the Baskin's favorite memories.

My family appointed me the negotiator for all purchases in Asian street markets,” said Liam. “I learned I can haggle like a camel trader regardless of the language.”

Everywhere we’ve traveled, I’ve been happy to give up my individuality to be a part of a stronger unit: The Baskins. I admire my family so much and I’m proud to be a part of them,” said Terrill.

They have good memories to take along from high school, as well.

I loved my junior year lunch table and had a blast in the homecoming court,” said Liam.

I was pretty surprised to be prom prince my junior year,” said Wiley. “It was a lot of fun.”

All three kids cite camp as the most defining experience of their lives and Wiley sees it aligning with his new life at Davidson: “The best way to be a great person is to be surrounded by great, motivated talented people,” he said. “The experience gives you examples of all the wonderful ways to craft your life and achieve excellence.”

Since many of our year round employees live at the camp, I’m entirely comfortable around adults,” added Terrill. “The experience aided me in college interviews and in leadership roles both in school and community organizations.

No matter where I’ll go, I’ll find friends.  I have camp to thank for that in it’s made me comfortable in making friends anywhere.”

Camp Champions was founded 1967 by sports greats Hondo Crouch, Darrell K Royal, Horton Nesrsta, and Pete Runnels. It went co-ed in 1970. It has produced winners like quarterback Drew Brees, Michael and Susan Dell, wakeskater Bret Little and performers and creators in the arts Lisa Loeb, Aaron Watson, Django Walker; Lucas and Micah Nelson, a visual artist and son of Willie Nelson.

Camp Champions has stretched their expectations and awareness of themselves and has created a strong network of lifetime friends,” said Susan.

As to advice to future aspiring honors grads, the Baskins would never have given up their advanced placement courses. They took as many as their schedule would allow, 12 – 13, and took almost every AP national exam and all three were AP scholars with distinction, with an average score of above 4 out of a possible 5.

So, regardless of whether a college accepts the AP credits, choosing the rigor of an AP class demonstrates to a college your academic strength and makes you a more attractive candidate, they said. Davidson does not issue college credit, but is allowing Wiley to skip introductory freshman classes and enroll in more interesting sophomore classes. Due to the rigor and specificity of Liam and Terrill’s program at UT, very few AP classes are accepted.

 

 

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