Seth Brown has attended high school at Olfen ISD since he was a sophomore and will graduate this May. In his 3 short years at Olfen, Brown, in addition to the usual high school course load, also took dual credit college courses. When he graduates in May, he’ll have more than just a high school diploma; he’ll have a college diploma with an Associate degree in Art.
Brown has been as busy as any high school student could possibly be. In addition to the high school work and college work, Brown was also the president and a founding member of the high school’s FFA program. He was also a founding reporter for FFA and worked on the yearbook. It typically takes 2 years for an FFA chapter to get accepted but in the case of the Olfen FFA, it only took 1 year.
Brown still lives in San Angelo and commutes to Olfen. He came to Olfen high school, bordered on all 4 sides by cropland, specifically for the dual credit college courses, “I was here in pre-k or kindergarten here and we moved to San Angelo years ago. I ran into a friend of mine that was still going to high school out here and he told me about the dual credit courses. I decided that this is where I wanted to come for school because of that.”
One of Brown’s keys to success is keeping a balance, “All of my high school work was also my college work so that helped. The only class that I didn’t need for high school was sociology and psychology. I needed that for my college course so I chose it as an extra credit class for high school.”
Last year on a visit to Olfen on “Option Day”, which falls on Fridays, Brown was studiously at work. The school has a 4-day school week but the kids go on Friday and watch movies in a classroom, play in the gym, eat popcorn and work on various crafts. On that day as I walked the hallways, room to room, I saw kids enjoying the activities and then I passed Timothy Parks’ classroom. Parks is the math teacher and football coach. Brown was sitting in Parks’ classroom working on math course work on a computer. Parks was there beside Brown, helping him along. Everyone else in the school was involved in some extracurricular activity, except for Brown. He takes his education seriously.
Another aspect of his educational pursuits that helped him was the support from his family, parents Marci Knott and Shawn Brown, and the staff at the school, “I know that Mr. Zamora (Gabe Zamora, superintendent) was cheering me on. Mrs. Paceley helped me with English. Mr. Carter helped me with science and history. Mr. Parks helped with my math and Mrs. Tennison helped with all of my papers. No one in my family has gone to college, so I’m the first. Being a first generation college student, my family didn’t always understand what I was doing but they were there with emotional support because there were times when I thought, ‘What am I doing?’ They really helped me out during those times.”
Brown said that he could only discuss his college work with the teachers during their free periods, “I’d do the assignments and they’d check them over. I was in an awkward position at times where everyone wasn’t taking the same classes that I was.” Brown has already being accepted into Angelo State University where he will study engineering, “I’ll start taking pre-engineering classes in the fall and want to get my Bachelor’s degree, then get a job that will hopefully help pay for me to get my Master’s degree. Study groups will be my friends.”
Superintendent Zamora commented on Brown’s time at Olfen, “Seth was the only student to be accepted as a sophomore for the 2017-2018 school year. I remember that early after meeting him he proved to be special. This was evident because of his positive attitude and the resilience he continues to display every day. Last school year, I recall a conversation he and I had about his future. When I asked what he wanted to do after graduation, he responded with one of the most noble answers I’ve ever heard from an 11th grader. He said, ‘I want to help people’. That answer is a direct reflection of this young man’s character. The Olfen ISD Board of Trustees and I, and of course our wonderful staff are proud to have played a role in establishing a system that affords students like Seth the opportunity to reach for the stars. The percentage of students who walk the graduation stage for their high school diploma and are simultaneously presented with a college associate degree is miniscule. Seth will be remembered as the first to accomplish this feat at Olfen, but many more will follow in his footsteps.”
Principal Lizette Paceley said that Brown has always worked hard, “Seth has always been a student that is a cut above the rest. He is a hard worker, humble, and willing to help out anyone at the school at any time. When he graduates, it will be impossible to fill the hole he leaves at our school. I feel blessed to have been a small part of his educational pathway.”
Ag teacher and CTE director Mark Pittman said that Brown was an integral part in getting the Olfen FFA chapter, “Seth has been here from the start; he is a founding member of the high school as well as the FFA chapter. He was the vice president of the FFA while we were in the process of becoming a chapter (2017-2018) and the next year (2018-2019) he was the president. He is also a multi-sport athlete as well as being a standard of academic excellence that we push other students to achieve.”
With all that he’s done at Olfen, Brown talked about what he’s most proud of, “Picking out one thing is a challenge. I helped found the FFA chapter in 1 year rather than 2 years. One of the heads of the FFA came down and did the interview. I don’t know how many times I look at my fellow FFA members during that interview, but we made it through.”
Helping Brown with his college is the fact that he’ll be the valedictorian of his class this year and that will earn him 1 year of free college tuition. Brown has put in the time, the work and the effort and already knows what it takes to be successful.