Destination: SuccessBy BETH BUNCH,
Success is not normal. It is an obsession with unseen possibilities.
A 2018 graduate of Oak Grove High School, Noah Harris enjoyed many successes - in the classroom, in leadership positions and on the basketball court and baseball diamond. Upon graduation, those successes carried him to Harvard University.
But he’s not resting on his laurels. In the midst of his freshman year where he represents his freshman yard in the Undergraduate Council, Harvard’s Student governing body, Harris has recently completed writing a children’s book, “Successville.”
“I wrote it to encourage kids to use education as an avenue to their biggest dreams,” Harris said of the book, which is targeted towards 3-7 year-olds. “But I believe its message can resonate with people of all ages.”
The idea for the book came from Harris’ reflections back to his elementary school classroom about 10 years ago.
“I asked myself what specific thing hindered kids from learning, and I came to the realization that it was not paying attention,” he said. “That’s where the story begins, and it gives Mrs. Jones the ability to tell the kids about ‘Successville.’”
Harris, the son of Anthony and Frankie Harris, said he was prompted to write the book from a feeling and need to give back to the community that made him who he is today.
“I was fortunate to have amazing parents and great teachers to encourage me up until this point,” he said. “Some kids are not as fortunate, so I wanted to provide that encouragement in a medium that could resonate this message in a way kids could understand.”
The successes Harris has enjoyed thus far served as somewhat of an inspiration for the book.
“I would say that was a factor,” he said. “More than some blessings God has given me. I would attribute this book to drive my parents sought that I have in everything I do. I didn’t need to read a book like ‘Successville’ because I had them. Not every kid is as fortunate, so this book is meant to share that drive is vital.”
OGHS Principal Helen Price knows all too well about Harris’ talent and determination.
“What you see Noah writing about in his book, is exactly what we saw him living out as he went through school here at Oak Grove High School,” Price said. “Noah applied himself to his education, then looked for every opportunity to enhance it. Being involved in sports, clubs, and extracurricular activities, and leading in many of those activities, added to the educational experience while he developed into the student/leader that he is today.”
Price said it all starts in the classroom, with effective teachers and applying oneself.
“This is what took priority in Noah's journey to get him to Harvard, and now a published author,” she said. “We are very proud to see that he has continued to seize every opportunity and to follow every dream to make a difference in his life and the life of others.”
At one time Harris considered patterning the children in the book after friends, but decided against, choosing to focus on implementing diversity with the characters.
“Each one of the three main characters embody a different pillar of the road to Successville,” he said.
Harris said this wasn’t something he’d really thought about doing. “I have never thought
of myself as an author,” he said. “That is mainly because the books that people my age read are complex, nuanced, and usually brilliant.”
The writing process took Harris about a month to get it just how he wanted. He then input from several other people to get to the final product.
Andrew Thomas, who works for the self-publishing company Harris used, served as illustrator. “He did great work,” Harris said.
He went the self-publishing route, like many people in the industry do today, because traditional publishing companies charge a lot more than is necessary, he said.
For Harris, Harvard is everything he hoped for and more.
“The best part is the people,” he said. “I have learned so much about life and different perspectives that I feel have been necessary to my development as a young adult.”
In addition to serving on the Undergraduate Council, Harris serves as chair of the Finance Committee with the council, which is charged with funding the college’s student organizations. “It has a budget of more than $300,000, so being in charge of that kind of money has been quite the experience,” Harris said.
He also mentors middle schoolers as a part of the Phillips Brooks House Association, dedicated to community service. He’s also involved with the Institute of Politics.
Proceeds of the book will go toward college tuition.
Hoping to pursue a career in law, at OGHS he served as Student Body president, president of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter and secretary of Beta Club. He was a power forward on the basketball team, first baseman on the baseball team, plays violin and piano and is an Eagle Scout. He also participated in the Senate Youth Program, which garnered him a $10,000 scholarship and was a Coca-Cola Scholarship semifinalist.