Over a cup of coffee, Helen Hill and Susan Hitt discussed the issues of the universe, and now they are among the stars. Helen was recently named the STAR student for the Thomson High School Class of 2007, and she chose Mrs. Hitt, her Advanced Placement Language Arts teacher last year, as the STAR teacher.
"I went back to her classroom every day after school just to hang out, and she didn't mind," Helen said. "We would talk about important issues, everything, not just things in the teen world. And she loves coffee, too."
The Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition award is given to the student who scored the highest grade in the school on the Scholastic Assessment Test college entrance exam while remaining in the top 10 percent of the class.
Helen scored a 2030 out of a possible 2400 points on the SAT. Each STAR student chooses a STAR teacher whom they feel has been their biggest influence.
"The easy part was scoring well on the test," Helen said. "The hardest part was choosing the teacher, because I have enjoyed almost all of my teachers. But Mrs. Hitt made it personal. She encouraged me to go on and do what I wanted to do."
When she graduates, Helen said she plans to attend Oxford College at Emory University for two years and major in Biology, and then go on to medical school.
"And then a way long time from now, I want to become a medical missionary and practice medicine in (third world countries)," she said.
Helen said becoming a medical missionary combines the interest she developed in her anatomy class with the calling she felt on a mission trip to Jamaica during spring break last year. Helen's activity in her church and her "love of learning everything" also influenced her future plans.
Helen said her mother, Jo Albert Hill, a media specialist at Thomson Middle School and her father, Steven, a lab manager at Hoover Treated Wood Products were excited to learn of her STAR status, and had a hard time keeping quiet until the formal announcement was made. Helen said she has an older sister, Jessica, who is majoring in horn performance at the University of Cincinnati.
"(Helen) is a joy, and I think her parents needed to have had more children like her," Mrs. Hitt said.
This is Mrs. Hitt's first time in her 21 years of teaching to be named STAR teacher. She said she was surprised because she taught Helen for only one year.
"I was dumbfounded," she said. "That's what's so nice about this award... Someone like Helen comes along and confirms that I did all right."
Mrs. Hitt describes Helen as a "real teacher's student," because she goes beyond the normal parameters of her lessons, digging deeper and then coming back to share what she has learned.
"She's a teacher's dream," Mrs. Hitt said. "I learned a lot from her. She's easy to teach because she wants to learn."
In addition to the STAR student award, Helen also received the Daughters of the American Revolution essay award recently, is number three in her senior class and is a ballet student and instructor at Columbia County Ballet.
Mrs. Hitt is a member of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the Delta Kappa Gamma society, an adventure crew advisor with the Boy Scouts of America and assists in the Augusta State University Professional Development School.
Helen will vie for the Area 7 STAR student title, which includes a 13-county region, on March 29.