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Eric Johnson - Briarwood Academy STAR student

The conditions weren't the best in the world. But the outcome was.

Eric Johnson was named the STAR student for the Class of 2010 at Briarwood Academy.

The Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition title is awarded annually 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 their class.

"The SAT was easier than I thought," Eric said. "It was only difficult because I had to take it on my 18th birthday and it was the morning after I played football the night before. ... But I have a strong will to be the best at everything."

Each STAR student chooses a teacher whom they feel has been their biggest influence to be their STAR teacher. Eric selected his history teacher, Kathy Chalker.

"Mrs. Chalker has always been my favorite, even though she's the hardest teacher I've ever had," Eric said. "She always helped me."

Mrs. Chalker said she watched Eric grow up at Briarwood, where he has attended since kindergarten. She has taught him history every year since he was in seventh grade.

"I like teaching Eric," she said. "I like the confidence he has. He's industrious and has a good work ethic. And it's been fun counseling him with colleges."

In addition to teaching history, Mrs. Chalker is the guidance counselor at Briarwood. She said Eric was offered a scholarship to attend Mercer University, and also was accepted at Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia. Eric said he finally decided on Georgia Tech, where he plans to major in chemical engineering. "I have been a Georgia (UGA) fan all my life, so I'm taking a lot of ribbing about my choice," Eric said with a laugh. "But Tech is a great school and I'm proud to be going there. I just prayed about it a lot and felt God was leading me there. So, it's where I know I belong."

A life-long resident of Warrenton and the son of Dodge and Pam Johnson, Eric said he is an active member of First Baptist Church of Warrenton, where he sings in the choir. He plays football and baseball for the Briarwood Buccaneers, where he made all-state in football this year. Eric also is a member on the school's literary team for argumentative essay and exemplary speaking, sings with the boys' quartet and has the lead part in the school's spring musical, Bye Bye Birdie.

Mrs. Chalker said her husband and her two children all are graduates of Briarwood Academy. She graduated from Thomson High School in 1975.

Eric and Mrs. Chalker will vie for the Region 7 STAR student title, which includes a 13-county region, at a banquet held in Thomson and sponsored by Georgia Power in late March.

Web posted on Thursday, February 11, 2010

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