ROCKINGHAM — They — whoever “they” are — say that nice guys always finish last. Apparently, they forgot to tell Kyle Goodwin.
A junior at Richmond Senior High School, Kyle will visit Boston next week to compete as one of 60 contestants for a $12,000 scholarship awarded by the fraternal Moose International. And in June, he’ll travel with clubmates to Savannah to see whether he can snare the vice presidency of the National Beta Club, after winning the statewide office earlier this year.
“I think he won by a good amount (of votes),” said Mary Davis, a senior who was Kyle’s campaign manager and self-proclaimed “mom” at the statewide convention.
“He was the most confident, the most put together,” she said at a Beta Club fundraiser this week, “and the fact that he’s cute didn’t hurt at all.”
Kyle is cute, even in the funereal black suit he wore for the fundraiser. He thought he might wind up “kissing babies” during the event. Instead, he moved about the room, greeting friends and acquaintances dining at Pattan’s Downtown Grille, finding no babies to smooch.
The event was a departure for Kyle: He usually isn’t in the front of the house at Pattan’s — he’s frying food or washing dishes in the back. But “he’d be great in front,” said Julia Pattan, co-owner of the restaurant and Kyle’s boss: “He’s the nicest guy.”
Kyle is so busy with sports and schoolwork, she said, that he can work only 10 hours a week; but the restaurant works him in whenever it can because he’s so reliable.
Competitive. Cute. Reliable. Make no mistake about it, says Beta Club sponsor Suzanne Hudson: Kyle “is going to do big things, he really is.”
“Big things,” that is, beyond winning a statewide Beta Club office.
“We cried so hard, we wound up on the floor” when Kyle became the first Richmond Senior High representative to win a Beta state office in 26 years, Hudson said. (Principal Melvin Ingram of Ellerbe Middle School won the post of secretary back in the day.)
It was something to celebrate, she said, but not necessarily a surprise because “we had to force him to eat (rather than campaign). Every time we turned around, he was (politicking) with another group.”
Yes, she said, Kyle also is ambitious. But …
“He’s believable. He’s the real deal,” she said. “He does have charm, but it’s not too much.”
One characteristic no one seems to mention is Kyle’s smarts, maybe because it’s pretty obvious.
He is in Beta Club, of course, the high school organization for students who possess at least a 3.5 grade-point average. (That’s a high “B,” for those who don’t know.)
Kyle boasts a 4.4 GPA, and although he says he “isn’t one of” those students who worry first and foremost about their GPAs, he does note that his likely would be higher had he attended public school through middle school and gotten a jump on honors and advanced-placement courses. Instead, he attended private school.
“I work real hard, (and) I’ve never made below a 95 in a class,” he said. And that’s on top of working part time; playing football (he’s the kicker/punter), soccer and golf; writing essays and performing publicly in scholarship competitions; and plotting his political future in Beta Club.
“I just want to have a bigger role” in the club, he said. “There’s not much you’re supposed to do,” but there’s a lot an officer can do. Kyle wants to plan a statewide service project for all Betas.
He got a taste for having “a bigger role” when he was in 10th grade and won an expense-paid week in Washington, D.C., where he watched congressional debates firsthand.
Now, he wants to major in political science in college, then enter the Army or Navy with a commission. If he can earn a spot at the Naval Academy or West Point, so much the better. (Did we mention ambition earlier?)
He has help — from parents, teachers, coaches — but Kyle doesn’t depend on anyone else but himself, he said. When he ran for statewide Beta Club vice president, for example, he didn’t even tell his (real) mother, Mary, until after he had written and practiced his campaign speeches.
“She was pretty mad about it,” he said with a shy smile. “(But) I wanted to do it more (for) myself, and that was the only way.”
So it’s difficult not to believe Beta sponsor Hudson when she says Kyle “is going to do big things — he really is.”
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]