STAR students honored at annual breakfast

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

A selection of Henry County’s best and brightest high school students gathered last week for breakfast and some well-deserved recognition from local educators.

The annual STAR Student and Teacher breakfast at Eagle’s Landing Country Club saw seniors from 16 public and private high schools in Henry County honored for their academic achievement, with Justin Gittemeier of Union Grove named the county’s overall STAR Student.

Justin Gittemeier (center) surrounded by Superintendent Rodney Bowler (left), his parents (rear left), UGHS Principal Ryan Meeks (rear right), and STAR Teacher Renee Stanfield (right). Special photo

The STAR program is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Education. Locally the Henry County Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual recognition ceremony with sponsorship support from various businesses in the community.

The STAR Student at each school is the one among the top 10 percent or top 10 students in his or her class based on grade point average who also has the highest Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) score. Each student then selected his or her own STAR Teacher who the student feels has had an exceptional impact during high school.

Gittemeier selected math teacher Renee Stanfield and called the selection a great honor.

“Justin is a motivated and dedicated student,” said Stanfield. “He has a great balance between academics and extracurricular activities.”

The 4.63 GPA honor student has plans to enroll in West Point Military Academy. His goal is to study to become a doctor while in the military.

The two honorees will now move on to the regional competition March 15 for a chance to then move on to the state STAR Student and Teacher Program April 24 in Atlanta.

Here is the entire list of honorees from Henry County.
Bible Baptist Christian School – Kenzie Wright (student), Diane Pittman (teacher).
Community Christian School – Brittany Adams (student), Barbara Thuman (teacher).
Creekside Christian Academy – Kamryn Cannon (student), Lauren Payne (teacher).
Dutchtown High School – Anna Nguyen (student), Rajeswari Narasimhan (teacher).
Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy – Ali Austin (student), Shelley McNeight (teacher).
Eagle’s Landing High School–Andrea Augustine (student), Dr. Pansy Forrester (teacher).
Hampton High School – Julia Floyd (student), Katherine Bailey (teacher).
Henry County High School – Robel Betre (student), Sherifat James (teacher).
Locust Grove High School – Joseph Duffey (student), Danna Seigle (teacher).
Luella High School – Emily Pugh (student), Dean Goldgar (teacher).
New Creation Christian Academy – Tucker Norman (student), Annie Smith (teacher).
Ola High School – Nicole Conn (student), Steve Sewell (teacher).
Stockbridge High School – Eric Mitchell (student), Heather Toliver (teacher).
Strong Rock Christian School – Hayden Harper (student), Nathan Boles (teacher).
Union Grove High School – Justin Gittemeier (student), Renee Stanfield (teacher).
Woodland High School – James Delisle (student), Michael Shook (teacher).

As each student and teacher were introduced, a video interview produced in advance of the program showed each honoree’s thoughts on the event in his or her own words. Thus, the students were the main speakers for the program.

“That was great,” said Elise Duffey, who attended the program with her son Joseph. “The recognition for the students is nice.”

Each school’s winner received a small trophy and a $100 check, she added.