UPDATE: It was initially reported that Cameron Hart graduated Crenshaw High School as valedictorian, but in fact, Hart graduated No. 3 in his class with a 4.127 grade point average by Los Angeles Unified School District standards. According to University of California standards, which weighs grade point average differently, it rises to 4.3 and that was the basis for the report. We apologize for the error and to the seniors who were valedictorian and salutatorian at Crenshaw as well as their families. The story has been re-edited with the correct information.
When Crenshaw senior Cameron Hart was eight or nine years old, his mother Carole was driving him to football practice and asked him if he had finished his homework.
Cameron said no, and his mother pulled the car over and made him finish his homework before they went back on the road to practice.
“If you don’t get these books down, you won’t go anywhere,” Carole Hart remembered saying.
“We always emphasized that athletics was a privilege,” added his father Craig Hart.
It was a lesson that their oldest son took to heart. Now Hart, 18, is set to graduate today as class valedictorian, carrying a 4.3 grade point average to go along with an outstanding athletic career in football and baseball and an academic scholarship to University of California, Berkeley.
A four-year member of the varsity baseball team as an outfielder and middle infielder, Hart was a catalyst behind the Cougars winning three consecutive league championships. He ended his senior year batting .488 with 43 stolen bases, leading the City Section in the latter for the third consecutive year and making the All-City first team.
But for head coach Andre Green, what stands out the most about his team captain was his intangibles such as leadership, commitment, and hunger to always get better while showing his teammates how to be a role model.
“He showed the guys how valuable classroom time was and what being a leader is all about,” Green said, adding that on the field, he’d constantly work every day to get better.
He was also a three-year standout in football, passing for 2,113 yards in his senior year and, in his two years as the starting quarterback, he led the Cougars to a league title and two appearances in the City semifinals.
Aside from winning the City football title in 2005, he’s most proud of being the first Crenshaw athlete to be first team All-City in both football and baseball, something he accomplished this year.
Balancing academics with athletics is always a tough challenge that some seem to struggle with, but not Hart, who said that the minute he got to high school he knew it was time to get even more serious than before.
“I wasn’t overwhelmed but shocked at what was expected of me,” he said of that first day as a freshman.
Since that day, which he says “feels like only yesterday,” Hart spent his precious free time getting his work done. It all paid off this past spring when he received several scholarships for his academic achievements.
Choosing to attend Cal was a natural fit, where the environment encourages you to carve your own path towards a degree.
That explains why he plans to create his own major via the American Studies Department: multi-disciplinary, alternative business networking binary communications.
He broke down every detail involved with the major, saying that with the economy headed toward a recession, people have to find alternative ways to make money outside of traditional sources while still being able to communicate and network
If you think he’ll be to busy to continue sports, he’s planning to walk on the baseball team as he’s been in contact with the coaching staff. While that football bug might still itch every now and then, he acknowledged that baseball is now where his energy lies.
“It’s my best chance for success and make a mark on the program,” he said.
Hart is also active around campus, serving as the school’s director of the House of Representatives. One minute he’ll talk about sports and the next, you can see him staying informed on the latest issues.
You could say that it’s comes from his genes. Both his parents are Crenshaw alums with his mother Carole (class of 1980) serving as student body president while his father Craig (class of 1979) played on the football team.
“He’s the best of both worlds,” Craig Hart said jokingly.
The Hart legacy will continue in 2009 when Cameron’s younger sister Candiss, a sharp student and softball player, will enter Crenshaw.
But both parents are quick to point out that their pride comes from their son carved out his own unique path and established his own legacy.
You name the sport or activity, Hart has probably either done it or plans to do it soon, all with his parents’ full blessing.
“Anything he wanted to do, he did it,” Craig Hart said.
Green echoed the sentiments, saying that Cameron never took “No” for an answer on the field, even when he tried to explain something.
Is it any surprise that he’s heading to a school where freedom of choice isn’t only embraced but encouraged in anyway possible.
Maybe that’s why the family isn’t worried about him traveling up north to attend school because it’s just one more challenge to overcome
“He knows how to be a competitor in and out of the classroom,” Carole Hart said.
Cameron isn’t worried either, remarking that he’s been ready to live on his own for a while.
And soon, he’ll make his own path on this next step of the journey.