Extraordinary Teen Awards 2022
Life during Covid didn’t stop these graduates from achieving remarkable things. In some cases, it inspired them to reach even higher.
Meridian High School
Hunter Hicks was 10 when he visited an antiques store, noticed a display case filled with silver-looking pennies and decided to buy one from 1943. Turns out it was made of zinc-coated steel—because copper and nickel were needed for the war effort at the time it was minted.
“I didn’t realize how much history was connected with coins,” says the 18-year-old, whose vast collection now includes an Athenian Owl coin from ancient Greece and a mint-condition Lincoln cent dating to 1922 in its original doily holder.
“I really liked the idea of having something that was valued by so many previous people.”
Recognized as a Numismatic Scholar by the American Numismatic Association, Hicks has received scholarships to attend coin conventions across the country and spent more than two years working as a numismatist for Wayne Herndon Rare Coins in Chantilly.
If high school is a time of conformity, this Falls Church teen was always determined to chart his own path. He started a Hat Club at Meridian, declaring every Friday “hat day” and giving away a few hats every week. He then took that crusade to Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School next door, where he lobbied administrators to rescind the school’s no-hat policy (and succeeded).
Hicks managed the girls’ field hockey, basketball and lacrosse teams at Meridian, and is now training to become an emergency medical technician. “I’ve always looked for unique experiences,” he says. “I’m not going to do the thing that everyone else does; I look for what I think would be fun.”
He’s also naturally inclined to help others. When schools closed early in the pandemic, he began scheduling video meetings with special-needs students who were having a hard time with the isolation. He tutored classmates in math and, as class president, led weekly meal preparations at a local homeless shelter. He is a voting member of the Falls Church City Historical Commission.
“He has so many interests and pursues them all with passion,” says Marybeth Connelly, a member of the Falls Church City Council. “He’s humble and he’s kind and he thinks about other people. I find that remarkable.”
Hicks graduated with a 4.3 GPA and will attend Stanford University in the fall.