According to the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation’s website, www.pagefoundation.org, “The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program honors Georgia’s outstanding high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development. During the past 55 years, the STAR Program has honored more than 23,500 high school seniors who have in turn chosen their STAR Teachers to share in this recognition.
“The Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation, Inc. was selected in 1994 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to coordinate the state STAR program in association with the Chamber and the Georgia Department of Education. ...To obtain the STAR nomination, high school seniors must have the highest score on one test date on the three-part SAT taken through the November test date of their senior year and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average. Nominees’ SAT scores must be equal to or higher than the latest available national average on the math, critical reading and writing sections. Each high school STAR Student is asked to name his/her STAR Teacher. High school STAR Students compete for system titles; and system STAR Students in turn compete for region honors in the 12 STAR Regions. Region winners and their STAR teachers are invited to Atlanta to compete for the state STAR scholarships and awards.”
For example, Sam Gaston of Cass High School was one of the students recognized for his academic achievements.
“After I graduate I’ll be going to the University of Georgia where I’ll be studying psychology. I want to become a clinical psychologist. I really want to help people, and I believe the best way to help people is by first understanding [them],” Gaston said. “Beyond college goes, the most important thing for me is my relationship with the Lord and always make sure that his work comes first.”
He spoke of his social studies instructor Alana Guilford and her influence on his life.
“It was really a no-brainer picking her as my STAR Teacher because she has made such a profound impact on my life, not just as a student, but as an individual,” Guilford said. “All I can say is I think the education system would be a lot better off if all teachers put forth the type of selfless care and effort into teaching as she does.”
Guilford also spoke highly of her student.
“I’ve had the privilege of having Sam in my seventh period at Cass High School, and I have to tell you, it is a treat to end the day with this child,” Guilford said. “... He is a wonderful student, and more than that, Sam is a wonderful person.”
Eli Hogan was selected as Excel Christian Academy’s STAR student. He spoke of his future plans and of his STAR Teacher, Bea Belville.
“I’m going to Kennesaw State next fall and I want to major in economics. After that, I plan to get a job with a think tank as an analyst in Washington, D.C. I chose Ms. Belville because I never met someone who cares as much about her students as she does,” Hogan said. “I had some serious health problems the first semester and I was honestly wondering if I was even going to graduate on time ..., and Ms. Belville volunteered and came to my house and tutored me and taught me everything I needed to know because, honestly, I’m not a great student, I’m not inherently good at math. This is a woman who does the work of Christ, what she needs to be doing, what God wants her to do.”
Belville spoke highly of Hogan’s character.
“I first met Eli when he was in the eighth grade and now I’m his AP Calculus teacher, so he’s not as bad at math as what he says. I’ve watched him develop and mature over the years as a fine, young, Christian man. I thank his parents because I’m sure they instilled in him character and the intensity I’ve seen in Eli all these years. ...He’s dependable, he’s studious, he’s of the highest character.”
Hogan was named the Cartersville system’s STAR Student and Donovan Sienkiewicz of Adairsville High School was named the Bartow County system’s STAR Student. Other STAR Students and STAR Teachers are Julianna Michelle Rogers and teacher Michelle Stone of Cartersville High School, and Natalie Danelle Lins and teacher Eric Willoughby of Woodland High School.