This past Wednesday at their regularly scheduled noon meeting, The LaGrange Rotary Club held an extra special event. For 59 years, The LaGrange Rotary Club has been a sponsor for the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) Student, which recognizes high school seniors who have the highest score in one sitting on the three-part Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) taken through the November test date of their senior year. Qualifying students must also be in the top 10 percent or be one of the top 10 students of their class based on GPA. The STAR Students are then tasked to choose their STAR Teacher to attend the event with them. The LaGrange Rotary Club is the only original sponsor of the STAR Student program that has worked with the program every year it has been running. This annual event is a favorite among Rotarians.
There were five seniors representing each high school in LaGrange that afternoon.
Callaway High School STAR Student: James Dee Wood STAR Teacher: Adam Wamsley Parents: Suzyanti Wood Principal: Jonathan Laney College: Will attend Georgia Tech to study Computer Science.
James Wood decided to use his time at Rotary to talk about his STAR Teacher, Mr. Wamsley, band director and music teacher at Callaway High School. James said, “There is no doubt in my mind that [Mr. Wamsley] cares … It takes one person who cares to change people’s lives”.
Lafayette Christian School STAR Student: Michael Evan Loutzenheiser STAR Teacher: Angela Camp Parents: Matthew and Jennifer Loutzenheiser Principal: John Cipolla College: Undecided, but plans to study Aerospace Engineering.
Michael Loutzenheiser wanted to tell attendees about his STAR Teacher. Angela Camp has worked at Lafayette Christian School for many years and has challenged each of her students to do their best. “She has truly motivated me,” said Michael. “She wanted me not only to be a good math student, but a good person.” Ms. Camp taught Michael to measure his success by his own merits, not by measuring himself against others. “Excellence is not something that is comparable, it’s based on your own ability,” said Michael.
LaGrange Academy STAR Student: John Hutson Whitlow STAR Teacher: Jennifer Smith Parents: John and Donna Whitlow Head Master: Brian Dolinger College: Will attend Georgia College to study Engineering.
John Whitlow elected to talk about his most memorable experience in high school. Having attended LaGrange Academy from kindergarten on, John said that most of his time at school has run together. John believes, “It’s not the big experiences in school, it’s the small ones that you have every day.” John also said that “The Academy” is a family, and there was some competition between the students for STAR Student.
LaGrange High School STAR Student: Elizabeth Shyanne Kaplan STAR Teacher: Kenneth Moore Parents: Rhonda Kaplan Principal: Alton White College: Will attend Brown University to study Neuroscience.
Elizabeth Kaplan thanked her STAR Teacher Kenneth Moore for his support through high school. This was Coach Moore’s 7th time as STAR Teacher. Elizabeth said that Coach Moore’s “success is found in the success of [his] students.” Elizabeth reflected on early mornings spent studying AP Calculus at Cracker Barrel with her fellow students and Coach Moore and his dedication to making sure his students understood the material. When his students would finally grasp a difficult topic, Coach Moore would say, “Oooh, and they even pay me to do this!” Elizabeth attributed much of her acceptance into Brown to Coach Moore.
Troup High School STAR Student: Anna Leah Davis STAR Teacher: Janet Carnes Parents: Jennifer Babb and Terrance Davis Principal: Dennis Medders College: Will attend Yale University to study Psychology.
Anna Davis spoke fondly of her STAR Teacher, who she took twice in high school. She was excited to have her as a teacher more than once, because “she could make any subject interesting”. When Anna was struggling with difficult a subject matter she would remember how much hard work Ms. Carnes put into teaching her and her class, and would persevere. “I didn’t only want to [do well] for myself, but I didn’t want to disappoint someone I respected so much,” said Anna. The same was true when Anna was applying to Yale. The tedious application process was trying, but Ms. Carnes gave Anna a glowing recommendation letter that Anna would think of every time she felt like giving up.
For the first time in the history of the STAR Student Rotary Luncheon, two students won awards. Both John Whitlow from La-Grange Academy and Anna Davis from Troup High School will advance to the regional competition in March at Columbus State University.
Congratulations to the STAR Students, STAR Teachers, parents, and schools for their achievement.
The author of this article can be reached via email at rhenderson@ troupcountynews. net.