March-April 2012 | Education

Top Teens 2012

Bethesda Magazine's 2012 Extraordinary Teen Awards.

Photo by Jonathan TimmesDerek Gritz

Senior, Winston Churchill High School

He was reading Harry Potter as a kindergartner and took high school-level advanced math and college courses as a middle school student. Now a senior, 18-year-old Derek Gritz had a weighted GPA of 4.96 in December, the highest ever at Churchill, according to counseling director Beverly Lubenetski. And the Bethesda resident achieved it by taking the toughest possible course load.

A National Merit Scholarship finalist and National AP Scholar, Derek has won many academic awards. But being a starter on the Churchill varsity hockey team that won last year’s state championship “trumps them all,” he says. Bonding with teammates and “reaching our ultimate goal” produced “a sense of pride and fulfillment that has still not faded,” he says.

Other accomplishments: Derek is captain of the math and physics teams, and led a physics group that took second place in a regional competition. He also coaches recreational soccer, referees hockey games and works as a tutor. He has successfully completed 14 AP classes, and last summer he interned at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda.

What others say: “With Derek,” says Ray McKenzie, Churchill’s varsity hockey coach, “I see a kid who has dedicated himself to becoming a very good hockey player even with all of his other commitments, which is no easy feat.”

What his future holds: Derek hopes to become a doctor, possibly a surgeon. His goal has always been “to push myself both academically and in sports,” he says.