Shining star likes to brighten others' lives

The smile on a child’s face or a simple “thank you” from a friend is all it takes to brighten Alex Edwards’ day.

The Renaissance Academy junior thrives on helping people and the feeling he gets from sharing with others.

“It’s always good to see other people enjoy something you’ve done for them,” Edwards said. “I take pleasure in helping people because of what it does for them and what their gratitude does for me.”

Edwards, 15, is this week’s Valley Sun All Star. He was nominated by staff at his school, Renaissance Academy in La Cañada.

The youth brightens the day of his fellow students, through peer tutoring and a buddy system at the school. He’s also a delight to watch as he helps younger kids with basketball techniques, said Edna Fulton, public affairs director at the school.

“Alex is so patient with [his buddy, a younger student in the school’s tutoring program],” said Frizell Clegg, principal at Renaissance Academy.

Clegg said Alex’s “buddy” in the program “wasn’t as progressive,” and needed some assistance in grammar, communications and other basic skills. “Alex was supportive and diligently helped him. This wasn’t just a short-term project, it was over the course of about two years,” Clegg said, adding that “Alex didn’t belittle [the child] or anything like that. Alex made a big difference in his life.”

Edwards has been at the school for just more than two years. Prior to that, he attended the Learning Kingdom in Atwater Village.

He lives in Tujunga and is the only child of Gary and Sari Edwards. Gary Edwards is the senior vice president of Diskeeper Corporation, a software company in Burbank, where Alex also works during school vacations.

Alex began helping out at the software company a few years ago while waiting for his dad. “Alex disappeared when I was busy with something else and I went to look for him, only to find that Alex was helping out in the shipping department because he had found out there was a rush to get a product out that week,” Gary Edwards said.

“I was a little worried at first that everyone just wanted him to come back because of who I am in the company, but it turned out that Alex was really being so useful and helpful that there were arguments about which department got him — they all wanted him.”

Alex’s computer abilities and his maturity make him a reliable and useful asset to the company, his dad said.

The youth’s wit, intuition, sensitivity, and compassion for others also are a blessing. “I think we got lucky; he’s a really special guy,” Gary Edwards said.

The elder Edwards tells of his “most special moment” with his son, which took place a few years ago, when the family was dealing with Gary Edwards’ father’s death.

“I was driving to Alex to school one day and I got a call from my mom,” Edwards said, explaining that his father had died. “I pulled the car over, then after I’d hung up the phone Alex turned to me and he said the reason he’d always loved his grandfather so much is that he was like me. We both had a good sense of humor and could make other people laugh. That one comment was so simple, but Alex had calculated what was the best thing to say to me and it just made things OK. There’s a maturity and an awareness of others in Alex; he’s amazing.”

As a youth, Alex learned to play the piano and enjoyed art. Now, he plays guitar and focuses much of his free time on perfecting that skill. He and a few friends at the school enjoy practicing together before classes, he said. He also loves to read, especially science fiction.

He’d like to become a professional musician someday, but he also plans to go to college, and probably work with his father at the software company, he said.

Maggie Ramler, Alex’s teacher at Renaissance Academy, said she appreciates his many attributes.

“He’s got a lot of good qualities about him,” she said. “He’s very kind and helpful to other students, and he’s dependable and trustworthy. He’s very smart, but that’s not his main quality. His compassion for mankind is what makes him who he is — an all around good kid.”

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