In July 2018, one DeKalb County School District Student accompanied his Boy Scout troop—Troop 213 out of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta—on a whitewater rafting trip along the Nantahala River in North Carolina.
While on the trip, a fellow scout from Effingham County encountered a tricky obstacle and was thrown from his raft. Onlookers could only watch in shock as the current took him quickly away and down river. A kayaker tried, but failed, to reach the scout.
OneDruid Hills High Schoolstudent would not accept such an outcome. He, along with other scouts in his raft, rowed against the current to reach the fallen scout. Once they reached him, that same Druid Hills student—identified as Zachary David-Michael Bryant—reached in and saved the scout’s life.
Bryant, or simply “Zach” to his friends and family, has since received a wide array of accolades. He received media attention from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as well as an official proclamation from the Atlanta City Council.
On February 26, 2019, one local news station honored Bryant the best way it knows how: a surprise award, honor, and interview in front of his classmates and family.
The CBS46 Surprise Squad visited Druid Hills High School on February 26 to speak with Bryant about his recent act of heroism. News anchor Gurvir Dhindsa interviewed Bryant on stage in a theatre filled with Bryant’s classmates and family members. He was also awarded a new Apple laptop complete with accessories.
Bryant was surprised by the interview, as the assembly had been called under the assumption that an administrator wished to address a particular problem. Principal Mark Joyner interrupted the administrator mid-sentence and brought the CBS46 crew on stage.
“This was amazing—I really didn’t expect it. I thought we were about to talk about grades or I was going to get yelled at about a project, something like that,” Bryant said. “I was surprised, but it was exciting at the same time. I never thought any of this was going to happen. Everything has just taken off. I don’t mind the attention, but at the same time, you have to stay humble.”
Principal Joyner called Bryant a great example of a student going above and beyond expected behaviors. He spoke with Bryant after the interview to offer a personal congratulations as well as words of wisdom.
“He was in a situation, an emergency, which called for immediate response and reaction,” Joyner said. “He was able to keep a cool head and react appropriately to save the life of another person. It makes me proud of him that he was able to maintain composure in a situation where many people would have frozen out of fear. Zach worked through any fear and reservation to take action to save the day.”
According to Joyner, Bryant is one example of many young people society at large underestimates due to age. Joyner commended Bryant’s reaction and composure in the life-threatening situation, and advised him to remember that stoicism when facing future trials and tribulations.
“Too often we focus on what young people are doing wrong or inappropriate,” Joyner said. “So often, so many students are doing what is right and what is good. It’s nice to have the opportunity to recognize and celebrate when a student has done a heroic thing.”