Family Matters: Geneva Senior Is One of 52 Finalists for Award Won By His Father in 1998


Overall winners in Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program will be announced on April 15 in Birmingham

By Josh Bean | For the AHSAA

GENEVA, AL – Geneva High School senior Jack Simmons and his father began raising honeybees several years ago as a hobby, producing honey harvests for his family.

How did he find the time?

Jack’s transcript shows straight A’s throughout his high school career, and he’s expected to be Geneva’s 2024 valedictorian. He scored 36 on the ACT, the highest possible. Jack also played five sports in high school – football, basketball, track, soccer, and bass fishing – and was part of the school’s first soccer and bass fishing teams.

Jack also serves as captain of the school’s Scholars Bowl team and president of the Beta Club as well as a key contributor to the Panther Sports Network, which produces livestreams of the school’s athletic events. He’s also active at Maple Avenue Baptist Church and has volunteered in numerous school and community projects.

An outdoors enthusiast, Jack also finds time to hunt whitetail deer and feral hogs and learned how to snowboard. His father refers to Jack as an “accomplished spear fisherman.”

Oh, he also dabbles in cooking and has adapted a recipe for kibbeh nayeh, a Lebanese raw meat dish he learned from his mother. It’s usually made with lamb meat, but Jack uses venison.

“I really hate being bored,” he said. “I always want to have something to do. I’m always trying to fill my schedule. I don’t really like to have time after school to do whatever. I like to always be going to practice and having something to do.”

It shows. Jack’s proficiency at everything from beekeeping to bass fishing is a big reason he is the Class 4A, Region 2 winner in this year’s Bryant-Jordan Scholarship competition. Simmons is one of 52 regional winners in the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program’s Scholar-Athlete category. A total of 102 high school senior student-athletes, 52 in the Bryant-Jordan Scholar-Athlete Program and 52 in the Bryant-Jordan Student Achievement Program, have advanced from area nominations. All will be recognized at the 37th annual Bryant-Jordan Awards Banquet to be held Monday night, April 15, at the Birmingham-Sheraton Hotel.

Each regional recipient will receive a $3,000 scholarship. From the regional recipients, the Bryant-Jordan Selection Committee will select class winners and the overall recipients of the Larry D. Striplin, Jr., Scholar-Athlete state award and the Ken & Betty Joy Blankenship Achievement state award, respectively. The class award recipients will receive an additional $3,500 scholarship, and the two individuals named the state award recipients will receive an additional $4,000 in scholarship funds as the overall state winners. More than $12 million in scholarship funds has been distributed to student recipients by the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program since its inception in 1988.

Dr. John Simmons Jr., Jack’s father, was named the overall statewide Scholar-Athlete winner in 1998 by the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship program. David Simmons – Jack’s uncle and John’s brother – won the overall Scholar-Athlete award in 2000.

Jack can become the third member of his family to win the overall award. If so, it’s believed if he is selected that he and John will be the first father-and-son duo to win overall awards in Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program history.

“Any father, I think, feels pride when their son emulates them in any way, but we just want Jack to be successful in whatever he chooses to do,” said Dr. John Simmons Jr. “It really doesn’t matter what he becomes in life, as long as he puts his effort into it, we’re going to be proud. The same thing goes for awards like this. I hold the Bryant-Jordan Foundation in very high esteem. It’s one of those things that’s on my resume.

“I’m 44 years old and I’ve interviewed all over the country, and they always want to know, ‘What is that?’ They point to that on the resume and want to know what that is,” John Simmons continued. “It has prestige and esteem, and it’s a conversation starter, and it’s something we’re proud of in our family.”

With such rich family history with the Bryant-Jordan program, Jack said he’s especially honored to be named a regional winner this year.

“My Nana has talked about the two of them doing that since as long as I can remember,” said Jack, referring to his father and uncle winning. “I’ve always wanted to do something like that. Getting nominated for this is perfect.”

Jack isn’t sure where he’ll attend college, saying he is considering a number of in-state schools alongside Harvard, where his dad went, and Texas A&M, his mother’s alma mater.

But he knows exactly what he wants to do.

Jack’s mother and father are family physicians, as is his grandfather, Dr. Jack Simmons Sr., and his future plans include medical school before joining the family medical practice.

“I’m definitely going to become a doctor, just like him,” Jack said, referring to his dad. “That is 100 percent what I want to do.”

But don’t expect him to focus all of his energies on medicine. As his father tells it, that’s simply not his son’s style.

“He’s a challenge to be left alone,” John Simmons Jr. said. “You don’t know if you’re going to come home to an immaculately clean house or a gourmet meal he just read up on and decided to make or if the back part of the house and the roof is going to be taken off because he’s trying to construct something back there. You just never know with Jack.

“But you do know he’s going to put his heart and soul into it, and you also know he’s going to find other people around him and involve them, teach them in a kind way and try to get them to also see their abilities.

Cover Photo: Bryant-Jordan Scholar-Athlete Class 4A, Region 2 recipient Jack Simmons (left) poses with his father, Dr. John Simmons Jr. (right), and his grandfather, Dr. John Simmons Sr. (middle). His father was the overall Bryant-Jordan Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1998. (PHOTO COURTESY | The Simmons Family)

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