ALBANY, Ga. -- Born with a debilitating eye disease affecting his eyes' retina, Roger Williams could hardly see 5 feet in front of him to read the chalkboard in class.
He needed large-print books. At times he needed one-on-one help. It didn't matter. Williams took on the challenge.
On Friday, the Exchange Club of Albany honored Williams with a plaque, a $300 scholarship and applause by the club's members.
They named him ACE for his ability to Achieve the Challenges of Excellence.
"It was hard to see the words and keep up with other students. So far I have succeeded and made the honor role since seventh grade," Williams said. "I am proud to say that I have been able to do well in school because I am willing, dedicated and working hard to get the task completed."
The eyesight impairment might have kept Williams down had he let it. He also did not let losing his father when he was 13 keep him down.
Williams plans to attend Albany Technical College in the fall.
Although he has not yet chosen a field, the $300 scholarship will come in handy. It also makes him eligible for a June scholarship from the club's district and a national scholarship to be awarded in July.
The Exchange Club meeting ended with an education outline from Lee County School System Superintendent Larry Walters.
With seven schools, 6,400 students, 815 employees -- including 470 teachers and administrators -- Walters said budgets are tight because of the economy.
But Walters said quality is not suffering in Lee County.
"In the state, the expenditure for each student is $8,907 on average," Walters said. "In Lee County, it is $7,229."
It isn't the numbers that are important, Walters said, it is the relationships between what goes in and what comes out.
On tests, students in Lee County lead the region and possibly the state. On the high school graduation tests, 96 percent of students pass, while in mathematics, 97 percent pass.
Walters said, "Excellence. That is what we expect in Lee County."