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STAR students in Forsyth County honored

FORSYTH COUNTY — Lily B Ge of Lambert High School described Thursday night as perfect. Perfect in that her SAT score was unblemished and shined like a star.

The annual STAR Student Banquet honored the student with the top SAT score and the teacher of his or her choice from each of Forsyth County’s five public high schools, as well as two private schools.

Ge will represent Forsyth County at the region banquet. If she has the highest SAT score in the region, she will move on to state.

“They are exemplary students in their schools,” said Phil Eve, youth services director at the Cumming Kiwanis Club.

The Kiwanis club has worked with the PAGE Foundation to put on the event, which was held at the University of North Georgia’s Cumming campus, for more than 20 years.

Since its creation in 1958 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the STAR — Student Teacher Achievement Recognition — program has honored about 25,000 high school seniors who in turn have nominated about 25,000 teachers who have inspired or helped them along the way.

Every accredited high school in Georgia is eligible to participate in this program.

STAR students must also be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade-point average.

“She is a tremendously miraculous student,” said David Zink, the Lambert teacher Ge chose to honor.

Ge said the math Zink taught her was “so creative and fun” and that he pushed her to think.

“I don’t know where I’m going to school, and I don’t know what I’m going to major in. I’m a mess,” she said, laughing. “But I’ll figure it out.”

She is certainly on the right path.

Schools on her acceptance list include Georgia Tech, Stanford and Duke.

South Forsyth High School had two STAR students when Savannah Carnahan and Kyle Carozza earned the same SAT score, and they chose the same teacher.

Carol Sikes, an Advanced Placement statistics and calculus teacher, was also chosen as South’s STAR teacher last year by Akhil Kota, who was last year’s system winner.

Carnahan said she plans to go to Furman University in the fall for applied mathematics and biochemistry.

“It was a hard class, but she made it make sense and wasn’t afraid to challenge us,” she said.

Carozza said he is not sure where he is going to college yet but that he wants to pursue either chemical or aerospace engineering.

Acceptance letters have come in from Clemson, Georgia Tech and two more he is still thinking about.

Of Sikes, he said, “Nobody pushed me as hard as she pushed me, and no AP exam has ever been easier,” he said.

Forsyth Central High’s STAR student is John David Browning, who said he plans to attend Georgia Tech this fall for bimolecular engineering.

He had five classes throughout his high school career with Bill Schuyler.

“So he really taught me everything I know, and he’s the reason I’m going into the field I am,” Browning said.

Schuyler said his student was “easy to teach.”

“He would walk in and I would just feel the knowledge being sucked out of my brain,” he said. “I’ve come to learn he’s a lot smarter than me.”

Parker Edward Chilton was this year’s STAR student at West Forsyth High.

He also intends to begin at Georgia Tech this fall, where he wants to major in mechanical engineering.

Chilton said his AP chemistry teacher, Kelley Grogan, opened up his eyes to what he wants to do for the rest of his life.

“He also taught me a sense of independence. That it doesn’t get passed down to you and that you have to work for it,” Chilton said.

Grogan said he would feel honored if he left “maybe some little inkling of an influence on him.”

At North Forsyth High, Christopher Isaac Snodgrass scored the highest college entrance exam in his class.

He intends to go to Georgia Tech, though he hasn’t decided yet on a field of study.

He said Stephen Nelson, his AP biology teacher, is “just a good teacher.”

Nelson, for his part, said he enjoyed coaching Snodgrass on the school’s Olympiad teams and looks “forward to seeing what he can accomplish.”

Horizon Christian Academy honored Hong Ju An as its STAR student, who said she intends to go to the University of Illinois this fall.

She said her teacher, Chung Lee, had hard conversations with her that helped overcome difficulties with great advice.

“She left Korea only three years ago,” Lee said. “And the things she has overcome. I trust and I believe she can overcome college and anything with no problem.”

The second student tie occurred at Pinecrest Academy, though neither student was able to attend the dinner Thursday.

Santiago Villar and Garrett Witt both chose Paul Parker as their STAR teacher.

Jason Pruitt, executive director at the University of North Georgia, said he did not have to look “any farther than this room to see the future is very bright.”

“Do greatness,” he said, “but do it right and do it honestly.”