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Class act / An outstanding young Western New Yorker

Even though not yet out high school, James L. Neely II already has his eyes on a top job -- school principal.

What will get him there? Determination and perseverance, says James, 17, a City Honors School senior, who has already amassed many honors and awards.

Here's his game plan:

For college, he's looking at a major in adolescent Spanish education, with a minor in psychology.

"My hope is to complete my bachelor's degree and my master's degree in adolescent Spanish education within five years and begin my teaching career at the age of 23," James says. "During my teaching career, I plan on going back to graduate school and fulfilling the requirements for a master's in education administration and supervision. My ultimate aspiration is to become a school principal."

Not that James doesn't know the value of taking a breather.

"After college, I'd love to travel to all of the Spanish-speaking countries in the world and other fascinating places across the globe," he says. "I am unsure on where I'd like to live and raise my family. But our beautiful city of Buffalo is a strong contender."

He's already had a taste of the opportunities abroad, having journeyed to Spain and Italy in summer of 2007.

James racked up the Rochester Institute of Technology's Computing Award in 2008, a Benjamin Banneker Award for Excellence in Math and Science in 2007, the Upward Bound Character and Leadership Award in 2005 and the 2006 Academic Talent Search Outstanding Achievement Award.

His community service includes being a school library student assistant. And he is a member of the City Honors/Fosdick-Masten Park Foundation board. He also sings in the Buffalo Select Chorus.

Besides a willingness to take on new challenges, James points out that "time management has been essential. I always make sure my academic requirements are met before participating in activities, and I'm able to gauge when a certain activity might take time away from schoolwork or be too much of a commitment to make, in relation to my academics and other extra-curricular activities."

Know a young outstanding Western New Yorker? Tell us about your nomination, including age, date of birth, address and phone number for possible publication in Class Act. Sorry, photos can't be returned.

-mail: lcontinelli@buffnews.com

Or write to: Louise Continelli, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240.

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