The 2013 STAR Student announced at Wednesday’s Rotary meeting is “good at everything,” according to her STAR teacher.
LaGrange High School student Caroline Todd was selected among school STAR students from LaGrange, Callaway and Troup high schools and LaGrange Academy. She and her selected STAR teacher, Erin Blake, share a rapport despite not having a class together for about two years.
Todd said her selection as the STAR student for Troup County, which will mean she will go one to compete on a regional level, is a stepping stone along her way to college.
“I’ve always tried to achieve highly,” Todd said. “… I really hope its a stepping stone on to my next step. College will be really difficult and I hope to be prepared for it, and I think this is one thing that will help prepare me for the rigor that college will provide.”
Todd said she hasn’t decided what she will do, saying she loves English, and would love to end up in the Washington D.C. area, and “write for something historical, or maybe political.” She plans to go to college first in order to find out what she really wants.
“That’s not indecisiveness,” Blake said. “That is just her excelling at everything she puts her mind to”
Todd said that taking Blake’s AP history class as a sophomore really influenced her.
“I’ve always loved history, but her class really took that up a step,” Todd said. “It helped with my overall analysis with everything else I do.”
Blake added: “I don’t think the course so much influenced her, it’s just that, again, she’s so good at everything.”
Blake, who continued to work with Todd as a mentor in softball since Todd’s sophomore year, has struck up more of a friendly relationship with her former student. She said that Todd has a unique perspective and praised her maturity.
“Caroline has always struck me as mature, as responsible and yet incredibly enthusiastic and fun,” Blake said. “Her just whole mindset, her approach to everything – it’s based on such a worldview and a global view, and she knows what she wants and she knows how to view things in life from that unique perspective she has. She’s amazing.”
“Aw, shucks,” Todd replied.
Even though she is no longer Blake’s student, Todd will come visit Blake in class sometimes and the two exchange emails. Although Blake said she maintains a professional relationship with students, she sees Todd as a friend post-graduation.
“She taught me emojis,” Blake said, referencing a type of text-message graphics used on smartphones.
Todd said their natural rapport comes from similar personalities.
“It’s kind of an enthusiasm thing,” Todd said. “We’re both very enthusiastic about everything that we do and it kind of feeds off each other, which makes everything a lot more enjoyable. Even though (a task) might be difficult, it’s still fun.”
Todd is the daughter of Jeff and Carol Todd.
All STAR students for Troup County spoke at Wednesday’s Rotary Club meeting before the winner was announced. STAR students and teacher, in order of students’ last names, and some of their comments follow:
•Bo Ra “Deborah” Kim is STAR Student for Callaway High School. Her STAR Teacher is Melissa Stanley.
Kim spoke on her most memorable educational experience. She said that moving to New York from South Korea in the fifth grade, when she was 10, showed her a whole new educational world. Experiencing an elementary school graduation and having a teacher willing to work with her when she knew no English and encourage her to speak out in class, even if she didn’t know the answer, was a stark contrast to her educational experience in Korea.
Kim said her STAR Teacher, Stanley, also continued to encourage her to be outgoing and ask questions.
“She taught me that I can only get closer to the correct answer when I speak up for myself much more often than when I keep quiet and keep my answers on paper,” Kim said.
•Elizabeth Julia Krizay is STAR Student for LaGrange Academy. Her STAR Teacher is Jennifer Smith.
Krizay said that her STAR Teacher choice was influenced by her choice to take AP Calculus with Smith. She said she had a choice between AP Calculus and another class, and even though friends had told her how hard the class was and how demanding a teacher Smith was, but she decided to accept the challenge.
“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Krizay said. “AP Calculus is probably one of the best courses I’ve ever taken at LGA, and definitely the most enjoyable.”
She said Smith makes the subject enjoyable and repeatedly explains concepts and works with students to make sure everyone understands it. It influenced her current plan to study mathematics in college.
•Susanna Pearson Taylor is STAR Student for Troup High School. Her STAR Teacher is Chance Giddens.
Taylor had Giddens as a teacher for current events class and AP European history.
Taylor said that before she had Giddens, she knew he had high expectations of his students, but did not see his true passion until she took a class with him.
“I found myself talking at home about what I learned in his (class),” Taylor said. Giddens is “a well-versed, supportive educator that loves his subject matter and in his students values hard work and a thirst for knowledge. ... Gone were the days of my monotonous history classes. With passion, and notation, Mr. Giddens translates the desire for his students to succeed into an enthralling learning environment.”
The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program was created to focus public attention on Georgia’s outstanding high school students and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development. Over the years, the STAR Program has honored more than 21,000 high school seniors who have in turn chosen their STAR teachers to share in this recognition
Each year a top academic senior in each participating Georgia high school is named the STAR student for that high school. To obtain the STAR nomination, students must 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 and be in the top 10 percent or be one of the top 10 students of their class based on grade point average.
Editor's note: This article was amended after publication to correct an error.