Louisa senior quarterback Zack Jackson was in the annex gym at Louisa County High School on August 23, 2011 when an earthquake shook central Virginia.
"Everyone was just shocked, looking around like, 'what is that?' And then the windows shattered," Jackson remembers.
The high school was destroyed, but Zack and other athletes from Louisa rallied together to help in the rebuilding efforts.
"We created picnic tables for the elementary schools, and help put the trailers together up at the elementary school."
Jackson is still involved in the efforts to build a new Louisa County High School. He wants to become an architect one day and as part of a class project, he helped design a a new school. The class recently met with the architect in charge of the rebuilding project.
"Our plans were basically similar to his plans, so the new high school you see coming up in about maybe 2, 3 or 4 years is going to have a lot of the students ideas in it as well."
In addition to his architecture class, Jackson takes Government Honors and dual enrollment PVCC English, and maintains a 3.9 grade point average. His teachers say Jackson is a natural problem solver.
"He's not put off by setbacks," says English teacher Helen Weddle. "If something doesn't go well, he sits down and analyzes what happened, he decides how to move forward, and he gets to work on it."
On the field this season, Jackson's Lions faced a few setbacks. He accounted for 28 total touchdowns and 2,410 yards, and was a first team all district honoree on both offense and defense. But the Lions were just 3-6 heading into their final game of the season against an undefeated Western Albemarle team. Determined to finish strong, Jackson threw for 2 touchdowns and ran for 3, including the game winning score that sealed the upset in the final seconds.
"I was exhausted, but I knew the team needed me, and I just wanted to stress that to the team," he says. "You've got to put everything you have in the game, your heart, your soul, your mind, everything you have into the game, just as you would in life."
The upset helped solidify a lesson Jackson says he's learned through his time as a Lion and as a member of the Louisa community.
"Life isn't easy, football isn't easy, you know, I mean situations in life is going to be hard, but you can't just give up on it. You have to push through the adversity and try to make something of it."
According to Weddle, Jackson's ability to overcome obstacles and his commitment to Louisa have earned him respect from fellow students and teachers.
"Everybody knows he's more than just an athlete and a scholar. He's compassionate and he's caring. He's the kind of kid you want your own son to grow up to be. He exhibits the kind of attitude we want all our kids to have. He cares about more than just himself, but he has goals that are very important to him and he works very hard to achieve those."
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