Five students and their teachers were recognized by the Cartersville Rotary Club in support of the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition Program sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation.
"We are so blessed to have been a part of the STAR Student program since its inception back in 1958," said Century Bank of Georgia CEO Rick Drews. "Sometimes they're a great saxophonist, sometimes they're a great running back, sometimes they're the student council president -- but most of the time, they're just hard-working students who are there every day, who have been raised by their mom and dad to pay attention, to have leadership qualities, to look out for their fellow students and to try to make the world a better place.
"We continue to see the cream of the crop and Cartersville Rotary Club is extremely proud of all of you students and all of you teachers."
Since 1958, the STAR program has honored more than 23,000 high school seniors and their teachers. Each STAR student chooses a teacher to be recognized alongside them. To obtain the STAR nomination, high school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the three-part SAT and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average.
A STAR student and teacher were named from each school in the county as well as a system-wide winner from both city and county school systems. Those system-wide winners will go on to compete against other students at a regional recognition program and from there a representative of each region will continue to Atlanta for state honors.
Cartersville High School's Christian James Rogers was named the city system winner choosing Valerie Webb as his STAR teacher.
Cass High School's Kenneth McPherson took home the county system winner naming Clarissa Bagwell as his STAR teacher.
From Adairsville High School, STAR student Cody Sebastian Pace named Brett Tolbert as his STAR teacher. Excel Christian Academy's Winston Smith was named STAR student choosing Brenda Worley as his STAR teacher. From Woodland High School, STAR student Haley Jones named Eric Willoughby as her STAR teacher.
Cartersville High School
Webb spoke highly of her STAR student giving emphasis to his personal conduct and accomplishments outside of class.
"Christian is not only a scholar, but I teach graphic design and our focus in graphic design and career tech is a well-rounded student, and that's what Chris is," Webb said. "He's an amazing athlete, he plays soccer and coached soccer. He coached young children in soccer and is very involved in his church. He is a leader in the school both academically and as a person. He walks the straight and narrow path and I would be proud of either of my children to follow him."
With plans to attend Georgia Tech and major in biomedical technology, Rogers chose his industrial graphic design teacher for her ability to challenge students.
"Working in there really pushed me and so did my personal interaction with her," Rogers said, adding Webb was his inspiration to research Georgia Tech. "So, I'd really like to thank her for getting me involved in [Georgia Tech] and always being there to support me."
Cass High School
McPherson shares a special bond with his STAR teacher -- Bagwell is his aunt. As a Cass High math teacher, Bagwell has had the opportunity to influence McPherson in his area of personal interest.
"Kenneth has always been eager to accept a challenge. Having been around him all of his life, I started challenging him with puzzles and all kinds of things from day one," Bagwell said. "It was the same way through high school, if you put a challenge in front of him, then he's going to rise to the occasion. That's why he is Cass' STAR Student, not because of me, it's because of what he has done to always strive to do his best, take the hardest courses he could, do joint enrollment and just onward and upward always doing his best."
McPherson will attend either Georgia Tech or the University of Alabama at Huntsville for industrial and systems engineering.
"I picked [Bagwell] because she does push me and she's pushed me my whole life," McPherson said. "I really thank her for where I am now, she's been a big part of my life and she's going to continue to be."
Adairsville High School
As acting commander of the AHS Army JROTC, Pace was described by his STAR teacher as a leader leaving his student with words of advice, 'Happiness is a choice. ... Choose to smile every day.'
"It didn't take me long to realize this young man was going to be a leader," Tolbert said. "Many words I could use to describe Cody, he's intelligent, goal oriented, motivated and most of all he is very respectable."
Pace plans to attend the University of Georgia majoring in digital broadcast journalism. He will remember his STAR teacher as someone he can always rely on.
"It's always good to have that one person you know you can go to and Coach Tolbert very quickly became that teacher for me," Pace said. "Coach Tolbert is not only somebody who will help you inside of the classroom but he's always been someone to give great advice for outside the classroom. He's always been encouraging, he's always been a dedicated teacher and is definitely well deserving of this award."
Excel Christian Academy
Smith was touted by his STAR teacher, Worley, for his ability in mathematics. Smith has found success in the field of mathematics and hopes to pursue multiple degrees in his preferred area of study.
"I have had the pleasure of teaching Winston all four years that he's been in high school and really, teaching is not the right word. The right word would be directing his studies," Worley said. "Winston is a scholar, he reads about math, he sees the beauty of it, follows the trends and it is very rare to find a student like that. It is really scary as a teacher to teach someone who is so much more intelligent than you are. When you see them raise their hand, you know you've made a mistake."
Smith plans to attend Georgia Tech and major in discreet mathematics before obtaining his master's and doctorate in mathematics.
"I chose Ms. Worley as my STAR Teacher because she forces her students to think. She tells us to constantly ask questions because that's how you learn. Math is, I think, one of the most difficult subjects to teach but she teaches it with a special passion and talent with unbelievable patience and endurance," Smith said.
Woodland High School
WHS STAR teacher, Willoughby, heaped praise upon Jones for her accomplishments and humility. Willoughby has taught Jones all four years of her high school career as WHS band director and describes her as a person he hopes his own children can emulate.
"While she's obviously extremely gifted, and talented, and sharp, and smart and all those things -- she carries herself with a degree of humility," Willoughby said. "Children like Haley make teachers say, 'I hope my child is like that when they get to high school.'
"My daughter goes into to high school next year and I hope she follows in the path of yours to carry herself with such humility, kindness, care and just being one of the best students I've ever taught."
Jones will attend UGA in the fall to study clinical psychology for the hearing impaired and the deaf.
"After spending so much time in Mr. Willoughby's presence, I've come to the realization that he is one of the most dedicated and influential teachers that I have ever met," Jones said. "While Mr. Willoughby has helped me grow immensely as a musician, he has also taught me innumerable lessons about life that I will always cherish."