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Seeing STARs
Event honors top students, their teachers
STAR 6 es
South Forsyth High School student Juan Estrada listens to a speech from Mark Hamilton before receiving his STAR student award. - photo by Emily Saunders

STAR students, teachers

Forsyth Central: student, Robert Gordon Scott; teacher, Anna Aigner-Muehler
North Forsyth: student, Delaney Kate Kolich; teacher, Judy Austin
South Forsyth: student, Juan Estrada; teacher, Hugh Canterbury Jr.
West Forsyth: student Kevin Kells; teacher, Michael Aderhold
Pinecrest Academy: student, Roberto Ocon; teacher Carla Chwat

Some of the smartest students in Forsyth County were honored for their efforts and achievements Thursday night during the STAR student ceremony at Windermere Golf Club.

Sponsored by the Cumming Kiwanis Club, the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program recognized the student with the highest SAT score from each of the five local high schools.

Those students, in turn, selected the teacher who has had the greatest impact on them in their educational careers.

Students and teachers from Forsyth Central and North, South and West Forsyth high schools, as well as private school Pinecrest Academy, were represented at the event.

Pinecrest senior Roberto Ocon received the STAR student system winner award for posting an SAT score of 1,570. Ocon said he was somewhat surprised.

“It was kind of a shock to me,” Ocon said. “I came in here thinking, ‘Hey, maybe.’ I didn’t know for sure.”

Ocon, along with his fellow honorees, spoke prior to receiving the awards. Each student was accompanied by the teacher he or she chose. For Ocon, that was Pinecrest’s Carla Chwat.

Event coordinator Marty Byars, who is the chairman of the Georgia Kiwanis North Division, encouraged students to share something about themselves with the crowd of some 50 people.

Ocon said he often “takes a little extra time in the shower to practice singing.” Byars then coaxed Ocon into giving the group a vocal sampling.

North Forsyth’s Delaney Kate Kolich came with teacher Judy Austin. Kolich said she’s editor-in-chief of the school’s yearbook, “so I spend a lot of time at school.”

“Today was the first day in a couple months I’ve left school early,” she said. “It was very strange.”

Robert Gordon Scott of Forsyth Central brought teacher Anna Aigner-Muehler to the event. Scott told Byars he was “somewhat of a renowned croquet player.”

Juan Estrada was there with his South Forsyth teacher, Hugh Canterbury Jr. Estrada is a competitive power lifter and body builder.

“That’s a little bit different than the usual,” Estrada said.

West Forsyth’s Kevin Kells tapped teacher Michael Aderhold for the honor. Kells said he takes pleasure in writing essays.

“It’s one of the things I normally don’t like to admit,” he said. “It’s not really cool.”

Guest speaker Rep. Mark Hamilton encouraged students to “hang on, be tenacious, figure out what you want to do in life.”

Hamilton offered advice to the students during his 15-minute address.

“Find out what it takes,” Hamilton said. “Don’t have intentions, don’t make attempts, make commitments. When you do that, your word becomes very meaningful to the people around you.”

Byars said the STAR ceremony is important “because education is the foundation and building block for the future, and I do think all these kids are going to totally make something of themselves.”

E-mail Frank Reddy at