One recipe for success in high school highlighted by the honoring of some of the area’s best students by the Kiwanis Club of Dalton is “be involved.”
Be involved in your classes. Be involved in your school’s social life. Be involved in extracurricular activities.
The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program is in its 60th year honoring some of the brightest and highest achieving students and their selected teachers. The program is sponsored by Kiwanis clubs across the state as well as the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.
Students from Christian Heritage School, Coahulla Creek High School, Dalton High School, Northwest Whitfield High School and Southeast Whitfield High School were honored at the Kiwanis Club of Dalton meeting on Monday at the convention center. Students who are in the top 10 percent of their academic class with the highest SAT score in each school are selected as STAR Students and can select one STAR Teacher who has had a special impact on them.
One common thread of this year’s group was their involvement not only in the classroom, but in their school as a whole.
“One thing that I enjoyed today was listening not only to the teachers talking about their academic achievements, but their character,” said Whitfield County Schools Superintendent Judy Gilreath. “Because there seemed to be a steady stream of their good character, their persistence, their kindness to others. A lot of them were student-athletes so to me that says you've got to be an all-around good student in order to be a STAR Student and not just academically talented.”
Honorees this year included Christian Heritage student Sydney Stafford and teacher Jo-Ann Irwin, Coahulla Creek’s Thomas Satterfield and teacher Josh Deslattes, Dalton’s Rafael Duchesne and teacher Minako Barry and Northwest Whitfield’s Claire Duffy and teacher Jordan Leonard. Southeast Whitfield had a tie with Jarrod Wright selecting retired teacher Emily Dunn and Josiah Hastey selecting teacher Jeffery Ferrick, who died in 2016.
School system representatives for the state competition are Duchesne for Dalton and Satterfield for Whitfield County.
Hastey, who was a member of the Daily Citizen-News’ All-Area football team this past year, said being involved in the life of your school outside of the classroom is the top advice he would give to incoming freshmen.
“Extracurricular activities, they get so many connections for you in life, and they add a drive to your life,” said Hastey. “It is really easy to get distracted in high school. I would always say be involved in extracurriculars. It is so important. You want to make connections with adults and teachers that know you well. It gives you something to do after school because a lot of people after they get done with school, if they don’t have an extracurricular they just go home and be lazy. You get into a habit. If you create a habit where you are constantly doing something after school, when you get out of high school, you will always want to be doing something.”
Wright, who played basketball for the Raiders, agreed with his classmate.
“It is nice to know where you have worked hard all your life, and it is really special to know that you have worked really hard to get there,” Wright said. “It can be hard on nights where you have homework after a game or after practice, but when you get to the end, you realize here I am and what you have accomplished and it makes everything seem easier and way more worth it.”
Satterfield plans on attending Georgia Tech and said he hopes to be surrounded by quality teachers — the kind he said he has learned the most from at Coahulla Creek.
“I guess it is nice to be rewarded because it has been an accumulation of years of work and classes and good teachers, and getting recognition for trying your best and working hard is nice,” Satterfield said. “I want to see what all I can do and keep being around good teachers, and having people I can come back and get advice from and just keep being successful.”