The Region 7 STAR banquet was held March 25 at First Baptist Church in Thomson. The event honored STAR students and their teachers from 13 counties, along with their family members, school officials and sponsors.
"In an age of much attention being bestowed on people who the media label as stars, such as athletes, actors and musicians, we are thankful for these young people and teachers here who apply themselves and truly are stars," said Lee Roudonis, state coordinator of PAGE Foundation STAR program.
The Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition title is awarded annually to students who score the highest in their school on the Scholastic Achievement Test and who are in the top 10 percent of their class. Andrew David Byrd, a senior at Lakeside High School, earned the region title with his perfect score of 2400. Andrew is the son of Stephen and Janet Byrd, and plans to attend Georgia Institute of Technology next year and major in physics.
Each STAR student chooses a teacher whom they feel has been their biggest influence. Andrew's STAR teacher is calculus teacher John Cato.
Every student and teacher gave a short speech honoring each other during the banquet ceremony. McDuffie STAR teacher Crystal Fleming was unable to attend the banquet, but McDuffie STAR student Caitlin Burnside said she'd be glad to "take up Ms. Fleming's time" in her own speech.
"To me, a STAR teacher is more than someone who can just teach you the material, but makes you want to learn the material. That's Mrs. Fleming. She also teaches outside the classroom, about life. She encouraged me to follow my heart, which is why I switched from Briarwood to Thomson High School. There, I was able to take more language classes and dance," Caitlin said.
The Region 7 banquet was sponsored by Georgia Power. Founded 52 years ago, the STAR program is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation, the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
All STAR students received an engraved photo frame and plaque from the PAGE Foundation and cash scholarships from the Cecil B. Day Foundation.
Andrew will represent the region at the state STAR banquet the end of April in Atlanta.
Other STARs honored at the banquet were: student Eleanor Katharine Reeves and teacher Brenda Durrence for Burke County, student Shelby Poole and teacher Sherrie Hall for Glascock County, student Jacob Gregory Pounds and teacher Gail Underwood for Hancock County, student Brandon Kyle Hinkston and teacher Vicki Goodson for Jefferson County, student Rachel Ellen Welch and teacher Marsha Madray for Jenkins County, student Deon Wallace and teacher Tammy Howard for Johnson County, student Kyrstie Leigh Scales and teacher Lanalee Robinson for Lincoln County, student Robert Thompson MacDonnell and teacher Randall Nichols for Richmond County, student Eric Dodge Johnson and teacher Kathy Walker for Warren County, student Walker Ethan Belcher and teacher Shauna Andrews for Washington County, student Joshua Fair and teacher Jennifer Atkinson for Wilkes County.