A soon-to-be graduate remembers the years she spent hiding her smile.

Brianna Lawrence would rarely smile because she was embarrassed. Then she got braces, and she remembers the confidence she gained when those braces came off, showing her new, straight smile.

Her own experience led the Greenwood Christian Academy co-valedictorian to choose to become a dentist so she could help others like her, she said.

“I thought I could give people that feeling,” she said.

But Lawrence knew it would take top grades and lots of studying to realize her dream of becoming a dentist. On Saturday, she will graduate as one of three valedictorians at Greenwood Christian Academy, and in the fall, she will head to Purdue University to study chemistry.

In eighth grade, Lawrence received all As and thought that was something she could continue.

“I achieved it and said, ‘Hey I could do this,” she said.

Lawrence knew it would take her best grades to stay at the top of her class, and she put academics before anything else. If she had a final, a big paper or a large test, she would leave basketball or softball practice early or miss it altogether to make sure she was prepared for school first.

And when she had a basketball or softball game, she would study for three or four hours after getting home, accepting that some nearly sleepless nights were part of being a top student, she said.

“I stayed up late and just had to deal with being tired,” she said. “Academics are a top priority in anything.”

Early on, she learned not all classes would be easy to ace. Freshman English cemented her dislike of the subject, she said.

A paper in that class nearly derailed her from straight As when she was assigned to write about birds and the logistics on how they live and are able to fly.

“That was when I thought that I might not make this,” she said.

But she learned that she would have to try harder and made it a point to study more and make starting English assignments earlier a priority, she said.

She would start English papers at least two weeks before they were due, taking a longer time to brainstorm and get her ideas on paper, she said. Throughout the two weeks, she slowly edited the rough drafts until she was happy with it, she said.

The work has been worth it, she said.

She knows she has learned, and she feels prepared for college, she said.


Name: Brianna Lawrence

School: Valedictorian at Greenwood Christian Academy

GPA: 4.0

Parents: Tyler and Andrea Lawrence

Extracurricular activities: Basketball and softball

College: Purdue University

Major: Chemistry

Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.