It was time for the best of the best to shine last Thursday night at the 49th annual Region 7 STAR Students Awards Banquet held at the First United Methodist Church in Thomson. The event honored STAR students and their teachers from 13 counties, along with their family members and school officials.
"Most of you have heard the joke about the three reasons teachers teach - June, July and August. Well, it couldn't be more wrong. We enjoy teaching because of students like these," said Susan Hitt, the McDuffie County STAR teacher.
The Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition title is awarded annually to students who score the highest on the Scholastic Achievement Test and who are in the top 10 percent of their class.
Lindsey Liu, the Columbia County STAR student, was named the Region 7 STAR student, with an SAT score of 2380 out of a possible 2400 points. She will represent the region at the state STAR banquet in Atlanta on April 25. Lindsey is the daughter of Drs. Fergi and Nei Zheng Liu of Evans, and is a senior at Lakeside High School.
Each STAR student chooses a teacher whom they feel has been their biggest influence as their STAR teacher. Lindsey chose her Advanced Placement Literature teacher Charles Heywood. Mr. Heywood has been teaching for 27 years, during which he has been chosen 15 times as a STAR teacher.
"Had someone told me last fall (about all of Lindsey's accomplishments), I probably would have considered (retiring early)," Mr. Heywood said. "But no one did, and I got to learn for myself what a challenging, scary, exhilarating and joyously fun thing it is to teach Lindsey Liu."
During the banquet, each student and teacher gave a short speech honoring each other.
McDuffie County STAR student Helen Hill shared how she began staying in Ms. Hitt's classroom after school each day to work on spelling, which is her weakness, while avoiding the traffic congestion in the student parking lot. In addition to spelling, Helen said they covered many topics and issues in their conversations.
"As a teacher, we have a tendency to get in the complacency of asking the usual questions and giving the usual answers from the usual canon of literature," Ms. Hitt said. "But with Helen, that just wasn't possible. Helen always wanted to know more. She wanted to know the how's and the why's... I learned a lot from her."
The region banquet was sponsored by Georgia Power. The STAR program is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation, the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
Other STAR students and teachers honored at the banquet were: student April McDaniel and teacher Lisa Mathis for Burke County, student Megan Griswell and teacher Mary Jo Kemp for Glascock County, student Jamesha Harris and teacher Irvin Swint for Hancock County, student Jessica Gay and teacher Connie Gay for Jefferson County, student Megan Lane and teacher Marsha Madray for Jenkins County, student Alexandria Stephenson and teacher Virginia McAfee for Johnson County, student Joseph Reid and teacher Mark Flowers for Lincoln County, student Robert Long and teacher Randall Nichols for Richmond County, student Chase Wilson and teacher Joshua Morey for Warren County, student Laura Conger and teacher Stephanie Shelton for Washington County and student Jessica Watson and teacher Debbie McLeod for Wilkes County.