Two of Polk School District’s brightest students were recognized for their pursuit of excellence last week while also shining a spotlight on the teachers who made a difference for them.
The system held its annual STAR Student Luncheon on Wednesday, April 28, in the HON Room at the Polk County College and Career Academy at Cedartown High School where administrators and family members honored the 2021 STAR Students for Cedartown and Rockmart high schools.
Cedartown’s STAR Student is Ethan Lester, while Rockmart’s is Timothy Williams. Both seniors obtained the highest score on the SAT for their respective school and are in the top 10% of their class. Lester scored a 1430, while Williams scored a 1440.
Williams was also recognized as the district STAR Student will now go on to represent the school district in the regional STAR Student competition.
Part of the STAR program has each student name a teacher as their STAR Teacher. Lester named Polk County College and Career Academy emergency medical responder, and fire and emergency services instructor Chuck Thaxton, while Williams named RHS band director Andy Cox.
“Ethan represents our school, our community, in a very, very positive way. So we’re certainly proud of him,” Cedartown Principal Scott Hendrix said when introducing Lester.
He mentioned that Lester would come to Cedartown’s youth football camps when Hendrix was the head football coach at the high school and his wife was the media specialist at Youngs Grove Elementary, where Lester attended elementary school.
And I had mentioned his name or something when she said, ‘That kid reads more than anybody I’ve ever seen,’” Hendrix said.
He said Lester had told him the reason he chose Thaxton as his STAR Teacher is because he had a passion for teaching and working to make sure students understand the material.
“It’s one thing to know a lot of material as a teacher and throw it out there. The other, the most important part, is being passionate about making sure your kids get it,” Hendrix said. “And he said Mr. Thaxton would do whatever it took to help his students learn and make sure they mastered the material.”
Rockmart High School Assistant Principal Shea Floyd introduced Williams.
“I can’t say enough about Timothy as a student. He’s just naturally intelligent and smart. In high school, he’s been such a great student and accomplished so much in band and academically.,” Floyd said.
She mentioned that Williams is the only student she’s ever know to score a perfect 100 on the biology end-of-course test.
“I taught biology for 17 years,” Floyd said. “I never saw a 100 come across at RHS.”
Floyd said Williams chose Cox as his STAR Teacher after the time he has taken to be a mentor to him and encourage him every day, including helping him make the district honor band this year.
“He also has given him lots of advice for the future,” Floyd said.
Both students have their post-secondary education plans ready.
Williams said he’s going to Kennesaw State before transferring to Georgia Tech to major in computer science and go into cyber security, while Lester is set to attend Augusta University to study biology and ultimately go pre-med to become a doctor.
The STAR program, now in its 63rd year, is sponsored, administered, and promoted by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the PAGE Foundation.