LaGRANGE — Marshall Todd isn’t afraid of an intellectual challenge.
That’s why LaGrange Rotary Club’s chosen STAR student for Troup County nominated his STAR teacher, Charles “Tony” Whiddon. The LaGrange High School senior said Whiddon, who has taught him in chemistry and physics, doesn’t spoon feed his students information and expect them to repeat it, instead he pushes them to think and understand the question.
“His methods encourage us to think for ourselves by introducing us to the important concepts, and then having us fend for ourselves on his infamous worksheets,” Todd told a packed room of Rotarians, school officials and other STAR candidates Wednesday at Highland Country Club. “… It’s better for the teaching and helping (students) to understand that knowing the process is more important than knowing the answer.”
Todd always rises to meet that high standard, Whiddon said after Rotary’s STAR student and teacher ceremony.
“He’s a thinker. … He enjoys a challenge,” Whiddon said. “Some students, they don’t want to think very much. Marshall loves to think, he loves to be pushed and challenged, and that’s why he’s here today.”
During his speech, Todd also thanked Whiddon for twice nominating him and preparing him for the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program. The program “is a residential summer program for gifted and talented high school students … (and) offers instruction that is significantly different from the typical high school classroom,” according to The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement website.
Todd didn’t make the cut the first year, but Whiddon again nominated him as a rising senior. He also volunteered his time to help prepare Todd for interview questions, the student told the crowd gathered at the Rotary meeting.
“My experience in the Governor’s Honors club highlights my high school career,” Todd said. “I am grateful to Dr. Whiddon for helping me to have that experience.”
Todd has been accepted to attend Georgia Tech, where he plans to study mechanical engineering.
“I enjoy just working with my hands and making things to work and build,” he said. “I’m on the robotics team at school, and I’ve enjoyed my whole time there, and just getting the challenge and using just parts and wires to make that challenge — to make it work, to beat the challenge. And to do something right and make a difference.”
Todd will go on to represent Troup County in the regional STAR student competition.
Rotary clubs in Georgia name a STAR student for each high school in their area. The LaGrange Rotary Club has been one of the longest-running, participating for 57 continuous years, noted Troup school system Superintendent Cole Pugh, thanking the club for its support.
“Created to focus public attention on Georgia’s outstanding students and teachers, the STAR student program showcases the academic achievement of students and one chosen educator who was instrumental in their development,” states a press release from the school system.
STAR student candidates must have the highest score in one sitting on the SAT in the November test date of their senior year. The student must be in the top 10 percent or one of the top 10 students in their class based on grade point average. STAR students name their STAR teacher.
Matthew Strother is the editor of LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2153.