Hometown: Little Rock
High School: Hall High
Parents: Kevin Scribner and Sheila Dodson
College plans: Brown or Vanderbilt
Perhaps it’s good that so few young people know — or at least appreciate — how quickly the world can be upended, even for the most cautious of us. They might never leave home, and we would never know the things they might show us.
Like the rest of our All-Stars, Hall High’s Roshundalyn Scribner was nothing less than the best this state can produce — one of the children who went into the dusk looking for fireflies and came home with her jar full of lightning. She was first in her class of 250; an accomplished poet and a shoo-in for valedictorian; fluent in Spanish and brilliant in higher math and science. All that ended the night of Feb. 6, 2007, when she was killed in a car accident. She was 17 years old.
While one can divide our All-Stars by race and sex and interests and goals, the thing that unites them is their burning promise. Roshundalyn was the proof of that. President of the student council at Hall, she had earned a 4.269 grade point average. At the time of her death, she had been offered scholarships to Elmira College, Bowden College and the University of Arkansas. She was waiting on letters from Vanderbilt and Brown. Last year, she was named Arkansas State Champion in the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2006 “Poetry Out Loud” competition.
Even more important than her intellect and talent, say those who knew her, was her ability to earn the respect and admiration of most everyone she met.
“There was no ego,” said Hall High counselor Linda Jones. “You would have never heard from her that she was number one in the class. People knew only because of the way she led, and what a good role model she was for the other kids.” Roshundalyn thought up a plan to help academic underachievers — a peer assistance program she believed could bring every student’s grade point average up to a 3.0.
“She thought that was possible,” Jones said. “If those who had a 3.0 helped the others, she thought that could happen.”
She made being a parent easy, said her father, Kevin Scribner. Every day, he said, she brought her A-game and then some.
“Roshundalyn was just an all-around individual — personally, spiritually and academically,” her father said. “She was close to perfect as a child — I didn’t have to ask her to lead because she was the eldest child, it was just in her to lead and be a leader.”
Like her younger brothers and sisters, Kevin Scribner said, Roshundalyn knew that she was “employed” by the Little Rock School District: school was her job. Sometimes when he’d remind her of that, he said, she’d ask when she’d start getting paid.
“I would tell her, upon graduation,” Scribner said. “I think just having that reiterated throughout her academic years, she really took it to heart and took it personally.”
The weeks and months since her death have brought reminders of what was lost. “Vanderbilt actually sent a letter last week,” Scribner said. “I assume they haven’t heard or hadn’t gotten the news, but they had actually accepted her and awarded her [a full scholarship].”
In the short essay she included in her Academic All-Stars nomination form, Roshundalyn wrote of her time as Student Council president: “A leader hears, but a great leader listens. A leader talks, but a great leader communicates effectively. A leader sees through her eyes, but a great leader sees through the eyes of the community.”
In a perfect world, we’d all see as clearly and as far as Roshundalyn Scribner did at only 17.