Editor’s note: This story is one in a longstanding annual series in the MDJ spotlighting the county’s best and brightest as they graduate high school. The recognition takes on new meaning with the loss of many senior activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.
KENNESAW — Aidan Durity heads to Florida State University in the fall on a scholarship that will pay for his room, board, tuition, books, meals and more.
Durity, a graduate of North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw, finished with just under a 4.3 GPA. He said he’d stuck to a strict schedule throughout his high school career to help balance his advanced and college-level course load with his cross country and track schedule, serving as captain of both teams his senior year. He also participated in church orchestra, Beta club and multiple honor societies and was named a National Merit Scholar.
“It was really tricky. I was never up until 2 a.m., which was nice, but I did usually have two or three hours of work every night,” he said. “I would get home from practice around 6 p.m. and I would shower and have dinner and then I’d get cracking. I’d usually be done around 9 p.m. or 9:30 p.m.”
Durity said he couldn’t put a finger on any one motivator for his disciplined approach to academics. He said he simply felt a need to succeed.
“I just don’t like doing bad on things, whatever it is. I guess I’m kind of a perfectionist, not like everything has to be perfect but I have to do well,” he said. “And I will say that as I’ve gone along, I’ve had to have more discipline. But I’ve also learned discipline from my sports.”
Sean Durity, the graduate’s father, echoed that sentiment. He recalled his son working to stay in running shape over the summer last year, running a total 450 miles through two hot months.
“Of course we’re very proud,” he said, noting that his son’s discipline in running parallels his discipline in many other areas of his life. “It’s just been interesting to see him develop his own discipline and convictions and beliefs. It’s not mom and dad’s grades, it’s not mom and dad’s choice of college, it’s Aidan taking responsibility for his own life and choices.”
An analytical mindThe North Cobb Christian graduate is planning to major in actuarial science, the practice of using mathematical reasoning and models to assess risk, typically for insurance purposes.
Family and friends say Aidan Durity has always had an analytical mind, but he’s applied those skills in his hobbies, as well as in school.
Aidan Durity says his love for actuarial science began with his skill in math. After proving his ability to handle advanced math courses and hearing about a family member who worked as an actuary, Aidan Durity said his father connected him with a local actuary to chat on the phone. Over the summer, the student also interned with an actuary.
He said working with statistics and creating formulas and models that can help answer complex questions is deeply interesting, and he’s taken to creating spreadsheets in his free time.
“I’ve always thought that spreadsheets were cool if you could automate them to create their own formulas, so I actually have a lot of spreadsheets that I do on my own,” Aidan Durity said.
He noted that he’d collected months’ worth of statistics from ESPN into spreadsheets to calculate which college and NFL football teams were the best in which categories.
“A lot of people thought it was nerdy, but I thought it was fun,” he said.
Josh Speck taught Aidan Durity in multiple math and science courses throughout high school. Speck said the graduate is a natural problem solver.
“From the first class I had him in, he stood out as being in the top one or two students in the class, and it was partially because he’s just a brilliant kid,” he said. “But on top of that he was very organized. I don’t think out of all the years I had him he ever turned anything in late.”
Speck said his student never disappointed him in class, and will be a perfect fit for actuarial science. He called Aidan Durity a “pretty rare kid,” who was able achieve at a high level in class an in extracurriculars without sacrificing quality in either.
As far as what he’ll miss about high school, Aidan Durity said he recognizes he won’t be a big fish in a small pond anymore, especially when it comes to sports.
“I put in a lot of work, and I got a lot better, but I’m not gifted athletically. There are people that didn’t work half as hard as me and are still better runners than me. That’s just the way it is,” he said. “But because I put in the work, I was able to matter on the team.”
Aidan Durity says he’ll also miss the general sense of community and camaraderie that he experienced during his years at North Cobb Christian, but he looks forward to building new relationships at FSU.