The “Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition” program, now in it’s 54th year, recognizes seniors who have the highest score on the SAT (scholastic aptitude test) and are in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade-point average. A winner is chosen for each school and one overall winner is chosen for the each school system.
The STAR program is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia department of education. Since its inception, the STAR program has honored more than 23,000 high school seniors, who have in turn chosen their star teachers to share in this rec-ognition.
· Mitchell Lynn was named the STAR student from Heritage High School. Lynn also claimed the award for the highest SAT score in the entire Catoosa County school system.
Lynn spoke at the Ringgold Rotary Club luncheon on March 13, sharing his plans for the future. He was awarded a certificate and a $500 scholarship.
“I plan on going to UGA (University of Georgia) and majoring in biomedical engineering, which hopefully will take me on to med school somewhere,” Lynn said. “I know I want to be a surgeon. I’m not sure what type yet, neuro-surgeon or plastic surgeon, or maybe trauma, but I definitely want to be a surgeon.”
Lynn chose Denise Montgomery, who taught him middle school Horizon science at Heritage Middle, as the teacher who had a memorable impact on him during his education. He said he remembers her always telling her class she was “preparing them for college, not just high school,” and even now in his senior advanced classes, he finds himself recalling “tidbits of knowledge and info” he learned in her class that have helped him succeed.
Montgomery also spoke at the luncheon.
“I was a little surprised when I got the news, because middle school is a long way away from when I see these guys,” she said. “As parents and people that are around young people, you never know what you might say or do that touches someone’s life, so I’m just very humbled and honored that he remembered me. What a gift he gave me.”
Lynn’s mother, Michele Harris, and grandmother, Theresa Long, were also present.
“I’m so proud of him,” Harris said. “He’s such a good kid. He doesn’t give me any trouble. He’s always been very self-motivated and a hard worker. He’s not just a good son, he’s a good person.”
· Will Rush, the STAR student from Ringgold High School, attended the March 20 Rotary Club luncheon, along with his teacher of choice, Melanie Keith.
Keith taught Rush honors and AP science during high school.
Rush received a certificate and a $500 scholarship.
Rush spoke of his post-graduate plans and goals.
“I’ve applied to several colleges, but I’m really hoping to attend Emory,” Rush said. “I want to study chemistry or neuroscience. I chose Mrs. Keith because she’s one of my favorite teachers. She has a great sense of humor, she makes learning about biology very fun and she got me interested in the sciences, so I appreciate her for that.
Rush also said a “dream job” would be some sort of medical research.
“I’d enjoy something that changes … something that’s dynamic. That’s what interests me about the medical field. New things happen every day, people make discoveries every day. Research changes things, it’s exciting and it helps humanity, so I appreciate that.”
Keith, who teaches Honors and AP science, also spoke about her time teaching Will.
“I just want to say Will is one of those kids that basically makes you be a good teacher,” she said. “He makes you be on your toes all the time, and he always knows what should be going on. Without criticizing, he’s going to tell you if he likes what you’re doing, doesn’t like what you’re doing, if you’re doing a good job or not, so I’m thankful that I had Will. Twenty years from now, when I retire, Will will probably be the one that I do remember because I think he did make me a better teacher.”
Rush is the son of Vida Rush and the late Donnie Rush. Rush’s great uncle, William Combs, was also present.
“Will’s a wonderful son. I wasn’t really surprised to hear he won,” Mrs. Rush said. “We’ve been very blessed with good kids. We’ve just been fortunate. I don’t know how to put it or explain it. We’re very proud of them.”
On a personal note, Rotary STAR chairman Randall Peters commented on Rush’s late grandfather, Rhea McClanahan, who was killed in the tornado in April last year.
“Many of you might not know this, but Will is the grandson of Rhea McClanahan, who in my opinion, was a long-time legend in the Catoosa County schools,” Peters said. “He was the science teacher at the junior high, the first principal at Tiger Creek and held many leadership roles in the schools. He was the best teacher in the school. He took pity on me and mentored me. He was a brilliant man, a great man, and I just wanted to honor him as well to-day.”
· Colby Wolfe, the STAR student from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School, attended the March 30 Kiwanis Club luncheon. Wolfe chose Ian Beck, his former math teacher and decathlon coach, to be honored with him.
Wolfe’s family was also present. Beck, who has been chosen three times as a STAR teacher, spoke about his time with Wolfe.
“I’ve known Colby for four years,” Beck said. “He was a very shy student, but clearly he was somebody that loved to learn. I’ve worked with a lot of good students, and Colby has more drive on his own to self-learn than probably any student I’ve had. It’s really easy to have an impact on a kid who does most of the work himself. He understands how to go and seek out answers to things he wants to learn about.”
Beck taught Wolfe in math and was also his decathlon team coach. The LFO decathlon team recently won on the state level and is preparing for nationals.
“The last couple of years, Colby’s been on the decathlon team,” he said. “This year at state he won six medals for events and was also the highest student in the entire state for his division. He’s quite accomplished academically. I really appreciate your recognition of his hard work.”
Colby plans to attend Georgia Tech when he graduates and would like to study computer science or math.