Taft Union High School senior excels in the classroom and as an athlete. Only 3 percent of U.S. seniors get commendations

Taft Union High School senior Eric Bailey has been named a commended student in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program. Principal Marilyn Brown presented the standout student with a letter of commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation last week, as his family watched.
“You are the only one at Taft High to receive this commendation this year,” Brown told him. “I want you to know how proud we are of you and what a great representative of Taft High you are.”
The honor is bestowed on 34,000 U.S. high school seniors, the top 3 percent of 1.5 million students who entered the competition by taking the 2011 preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship qualifying test (PSAT/NMSQT).
The scholar-athlete plans to study law at Stanford University. Eric is first in his senior class among 218 students, which makes him the leading candidate for valedictorian.
The 6-foot-3, 17-year-old is an offensive lineman, basketball center, shot put and discus thrower and a sprinter. But he wouldn’t tell you of his accomplishments unless you pressed him. “He is a man of few words,” his father, Ron Bailey said. His mother, Julia, added, “He is very humble.” But that’s not just how his proud parents view him.
His teachers described Eric Bailey as mature beyond his years.
Physics teacher Joy Reynolds said, “He has a lot of background knowledge that he brings into his courses and thinks further and deeper than the words that are just right in front of him on the page of the book. He also has a filter and knows when it is appropriate to ask deeper questions and when it will just confuse his classmates. He may know where the lecture is going or why you ask a leading question of the class to get them thinking in the right direction, but he doesn't spoil it for them even though he has often already figured it out or knows the answer.”
His former football coach Steve Sprague said, “Eric was one of my favorite athletes. He is a quiet leader and earns the respect of his coaches and teammates.”
Spanish teacher Sandra Torres added, “Eric is an amazing, young man. He is so bright; he makes the most challenging work seem easy. He's kind and pleasant and is always willing to help his classmates if they're struggling. Although quiet, he has a witty sense of humor that often catches me off guard and makes me smile no matter what else is going on! I've truly enjoyed having him in my class.”