George Graham

Let’s Hear it for Dhara!

It’s nice to see that one of our local schools is in the news – and not because anyone went on a shooting rampage there. So I am proud to pass on the news that a Plant City High School student made headlines today with a mind blowing grade point average. Dhara Patel is the kid’s name. And 10.03 is her GPA. No, that’s not a typo. Dhara (photo above) is graduating with a GPA of 10.03.

I didn’t go to school in the US, but I bet I wouldn’t have done much better than 3.5. As I understand it, 4.0 is a perfect score and, sadly, I wasn’t perfect.

In the Hillsborough County school system, students often score higher than 4.0, though. They get marks for extra credits. When I covered Plant City for the Tampa Tribune, I interviewed a prizewinner at the county fair who had a 5.0 GPA.

Sandra’s brother David was the valedictorian at Plant City High School, and while I don’t think they had GPAs back in those days, I bet he wouldn’t have scored 10.03 if they did.

So how did Dhara do it?

According to the story in “Good News” (picked up by Yahoo News:

 Dhara took 17 AP (advanced placement) classes overall, and spent nights, weekends and summers taking classes at Hillsborough Community College. She studied all different subjects, including statistics, history, psychology, calculus and nutrition. She earned her Associate’s degree long before she’s set to receive her high school diploma on June 4.

And there’s more. Good News reports:

She’s also involved in at least seven clubs, and holds leadership roles in half of them. She’s the President of the Future Business Leaders of America and sits on the executive board of Student Government.

Her favorite non-academic activity is Best Buddies, a non-profit program that helps handicapped and mentally impaired children.

Dhara is going to study microbiology at the University of Florida. On a full scholarship, of course.

I wonder how many kids achieve this kind of success – not6 just in academics but in all kinds of ways – and don’t make the news. It seems we only get to read or hear about students when they mess up.

And the public education system gets nothing but bad press. Take the hue and cry over Common Core for example – what’s up with that?

You think the for-profit education PR machine might be engaged in a propaganda campaign and the media might be falling for it? Or is it just that bad news sells and good news doesn’t?

Click for the Good News article.

Click for more on Plant City High.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for