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SATs, Applications and Life's Little Setbacks

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Newsome is that kid — the one who spent his summer translating for Spanish-speaking patients at a Richmond free clinic. The one who teaches dance at cotillion, was elected president of the student body, is destined to be the valedictorian, plays Gershwin's three preludes on the piano, serves as co-captain of Freeman's Battle of the Brains squad, and is captain of the cross-country team.

Oh, and he scored a perfect 1600 on the SATs.

"Did he really?" asks one of the church youth workers, Jon Greenhill. "That's sick," he says good-naturedly.

Newsome says he's never gotten picked on for his accomplishments: "If I did, I didn't notice."

"I think that people respect him instead of hate him," says his sister Jennifer. "They're almost in awe of him because he accomplishes so much."

But at least one person has brushed him off: William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions at Harvard University.

"After very careful consideration, we were unable to take a definite action on your candidacy at this time and therefore have deferred our decision," Fitzsimmons wrote in an e-mail to Newsome about his college application Dec. 14.

Newsome had to re-read it. "I guess that's not the right school," he recalls thinking. In "The Great Gatsby" — Newsome's favorite book — F. Scott Fitzgerald writes that the well-rounded man is "the worst of experts." Newsome assumes that's the culprit of his Harvard miss. "I have no outrageous talents," he says. "It's hard to show that I have both breadth and depth on paper."

Harvard will make another round of decisions in April. In the meantime, Newsome's applied to Georgetown, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, Duke, the University of Virginia, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Sitting in his Moreland Farms home in the West End, Newsome considers his future. He has blue eyes and a chiseled face, with dark blond hair cropped short and parted on the side. "I know God will pull through," he says. "It's not up to me."

So why worry? "Life is so much better if you don't worry about the little things," he says. "If you're relaxed and don't stress out, it'll be so much more pleasant." — David Clementson

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