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Local STAR students honored

Pike County’s two STAR students and their teachers were honored during a Chamber of Commerce reception held Feb. 8. ’Education is extremely important in Pike County in part because education is probably the single biggest economic driver we’ve got,’ said Pike County Chamber of Commerce chairman Shep Marsh. ‘STAR students are high school students who have the highest score on the SAT and are in the top 10 percent or top 10 students in their class based on GPA. That’s extremely tough to do and they should really be commended for their hard work earning this honor. Pike County is very fortunate that we have two great places for kids to get an education – whether it’s public or private school.’ THOMAS WARE: Thomas Ware was honored as the STAR student for Pike County High School recently and he selected middle school art teacher Mike Thompson as his STAR teacher. He scored a 1540 on the SAT as an eleventh grader, scoring 780 in writing and 760 in mathematics. He plans to attend an Ivy League school and has applied to Yale as his top choice. ’As you can imagine, Thomas is one of the most stellar students we’ve had at Pike County High School,’ said superintendent Dr. Michael Duncan. ‘He was one of the students who recently traveled to the Capitol to advocate for uniform policy regarding Advanced Placement classes in Georgia. He was also a STEM intern student with UGA and got to perform authentic research with UGA faculty. We are very proud of him.’ He plans to attend a top tier college after graduation and is considering several different career paths. ’I will probably end up being a professor because I like to teach,’ he said. He selected middle school art teacher Mike Thompson as his STAR teacher. Thompson has also been selected as Teacher of the Year in the past. Principal Mike Maddox said Thompson is one of the most revered and respected teachers in the school system – by faculty, the administration, parents and students. ’I was not doing great in middle school and I had always excelled at everything academic. While I always loved art, I was never good at it. I always loved to go to art class and have a challenge,’ said Ware. ‘Mike Thompson is such a phenomenal teacher. He’s very calm and never lets anything catch him off guard. He’s a very nice, supportive person and he made an impression on me because of how valuable his class was to me at the time.’ Ware served as president of the National Honor Society, Captain of the Academic Team, was STEM liaison for FFA and was a member of the Science National Honor Society and the National Art Honor Society. He also was part of a STEM internship at UGA where he worked under Dr. Shyam Tallury performing protein and oil analyses on different types of peanuts. In addition to all of his extracurricular activities, he enjoys making music. District 131 Rep. Johnnie Caldwell attended the STAR reception and spoke briefly about meeting him at the state Capitol recently. ’It was wonderful to meet him and three other young people from Pike County. We talked for about 45 minutes in my office about STEM ideas and the ideas these young people have are exceptional,’ he said. ‘They did an outstanding job and based on their recommendations, we did get some legislation created and passed.’ He is the son of Charles Ware Jr. and Christina Ware and the brother of Sylvia Ware and Charles Ware, all of Williamson. He is the grandson of Caroline Williamson and the late Gaston Williamson and Charles Ware Sr. and Patricia Ware. His advice to other students is to always work hard. ’Part of the reason I’ve been so successful is because if I ever needed extra help, I put myself out there and put in the extra effort,’ he said. ‘Don’t coast, that’s my advice. If you coast, you’ll end up regretting it later.’ D.J. BROOKS D.J. Brooks hit the books as hard as he hit football players on the field for the Cavaliers and he was recently honored as STAR student for CrossPointe Christian Academy. He selected Powell Turner as his STAR teacher. He only took the SAT one time and scored a 1390 with 630 in English and 760 in mathematics. He played wide receiver and linebacker for the CrossPointe Cavaliers and recently signed a preferred walk-on scholarship to play football for Florida Technical University. He will be living near the beach during his college years there. He is enrolled in a fast track bachelors and masters program and plans to graduate with a masters degree in five years. He enjoys math and science and plans to become a mechanical engineer. He was named to All State and All Region teams for the past two years and was also the Captain of the All Star team for the league. He chose Powell Turner as his STAR teacher because he challenged students at CCA. ’I like him as a teacher because he challenged me and makes people better students,’ said Brooks. ‘He’s been a great role model.’ Turner taught the STAR student in Bible and history classes at CCA. ’We are exceedingly proud of DJ,’ said Turner who also serves as the CCA vice principal. ‘He excels at everything he puts his hand to. He is precise as a student, reliable in his work and trustworthy as a man.’ In addition to playing football, running track and playing baseball, he was in the National Honor Society, Beta Club and on the CCA Literary Team. He was also a part of Samaritans Purse and served on the CCA Student Council. Over the summer, D.J. did an internship in the UGA Young Scholars program. He also dual enrolled during high school, taking classes at Gordon State College. ’He’s a very humble young man and I’m very proud of him,’ said his mother Candace Brooks. ‘He’s put in the work and he’s stayed focused.’ His advice for other students is to try to enjoy school and not let the stress get to them. He is the son of Dean and Candace Brooks and the brother of Katie Brooks. He is the grandson of Liz and Barry O’Neal of Meriwether County.

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