A combination of sports, motivation and intellect are what make up Columbus Christian School’s valedictorian.

Judah Haynes, who describes himself as “a bit of a nerd,” enjoys playing two very different games when he is not in the classroom — one using his mind, the other his body.

Chess, a game of strategy, appeals to his mind, Haynes said. It requires plotting out steps that can be taken to give yourself an advantage.

Sports allows him to test his physical skills.

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Although Haynes, 17, was involved in both basketball and soccer throughout school, his passion for soccer prevailed.

“It is different than most other sports. For one thing, the main rule of soccer is that you cannot use your hands, the most natural thing for us to use,” Haynes said. “So I suppose that I like it more because it causes people to adapt, to become skilled in areas not commonly used.”

He also likes that the game is continuous, only stopping once during halftime.

His father, Nathan Haynes, had the chance to work with him as assistant soccer coach at Columbus Christian School and understands his son’s passion.

“It has been a blast to watch him grow as a person and an athlete,” Nathan Haynes said.

The senior also excels academically, as proven by his 4.0 grade point average, ranking first among his class of 15 seniors at Columbus Christian.

His favorite subject: Mathematics.

“It deals in absolutes. There is only one answer to a math problem, but there are several methods that can be used to find that answer,” Haynes said.

His interest in the subject has driven him to understand the material completely — both computation and application — to the point he has repeatedly impressed his math teacher, Suzy Richardson.

Her student’s motivation has paid off, Richardson said.

Haynes studied Pre-calculus online last summer to prepare himself for Calculus in the classroom, without encouragement from an instructor.

Unsurprisingly, Haynes earned a place at the top of his Calculus class the next school year, Richardson said.

But Haynes also seeks to share his knowledge with others.

“Many times Judah has helped his fellow classmates understand difficult concepts in both math and science. He is one of the most kind and humble young men I have ever taught,” Richardson said.

His hard work was rewarded when he applied for and won a full-tuition scholarship to Liberty University in Virginia, worth $91,520 over four years.

Upon learning of his accomplishment, the first thing he did was tell his parents, who were ecstatic.

“I owe my success to the way my parents brought me up,” Haynes said. “They were the ones who pushed me to do my best at everything I do.”

And if the free tuition was not enough incentive, Liberty University also has two indoor soccer fields for Haynes to try.

In college, he plans to study mechanical engineering because it deals largely with physics, which puts meaning behind the numbers in math problems, Haynes said.

According to his father, engineering has been the only thing his son has ever wanted to do.

“He has a very, very analytical mind. Very black and white. Mechanical engineering is a great fit for him,” Nathan Haynes said.

Claire Martin

School: Columbus Christian

Class rank: Salutatorian

Parents: Colin and Kyla Martin

Siblings: Kaitlynn Harvey

College: Franklin College

College major: Theatre.

Activities: Drama, choir, National Honors Society, Youth Leadership Bartholomew County, Indianapolis Youth Chorale

Judah Haynes

School: Columbus Christian

Class rank: Valedictorian

Parents: Nathan and Lorrie Haynes

Siblings: Abby, 16; Daniella, 14; Naomi, 11

College: Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia

College major: Mechanical engineering

Activities: Soccer, basketball, chess

Quote to live by: “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”

Columbus Christian commencement

6 p.m. today in the sanctuary of East Columbus Christian Church, 3170 Indiana Ave.

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at kevener@therepublic.com or 812-379-5633.