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STAR students, teachers honored

The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation to honor top students and teachers in each county every year. To earn the STAR student status, high school seniors must have the highest score on the three-part SAT and be in the top 10 percent of their class based on grade point average. The local winner for system-wide STAR student is Warren Snell. He can also compete for region honors. John Michael Williams is also a STAR student for Pike County. Warren Snell Warren Snell of Meansville was named the STAR Student for Pike County High School based on his SAT score of 2150. He plans to attend Georgia Tech for a degree in electrical engineering after which he plans to attend law school at the University of Georgia. ’My ultimate career goal with these two degrees is to become a patent attorney, combining my love for science and writing in writing patents,’ he said. ‘I feel that creativity and ingenuity are key to academic excellence. The ability to solve problems, using many different perspectives and finding multiple solutions, is vital on any level of education and a creative outlook on problem solving is crucial for excellence. This applies to anything from multiple-choice SAT questions to classroom learning to experiences outside the classroom.’ He chose his eighth grade social studies teacher Mike McNutt as his STAR Teacher. ’He’s outstanding in every way academically and has impeccable character. He’s well respected by his peers and teachers. He’s quiet and observant. He garnered everyone’s attention when he chose to speak but he didn’t speak without careful consideration of the topic,’ said McNutt. ‘Warren is blessed with character, a good attitude, drive, humility and academic ability. Warren is a good person. He’s brilliant but never self-assuming.’ ’He’s a quiet leader, highly respected by his peers for his abilities and his positive attitude and sense of humility. He’s always willing to help others, often putting the needs of others before his own. He’s dedicated to his friends, family and faith. His work and attention to detail are unparalleled. I believe without a doubt that Warren will do something great someday.’ Snell said he was surprised and happy to be named the STAR Student and proud to be a PCHS student. He said his teachers have had a great influence on him over the years. ’Mr. McNutt taught me in the classroom for two years but his influence extended well beyond the classroom. Not only did he give me an impressive role model on a social level, he was the first teacher who began to show me the difference between intellectual and intelligent thought. Intelligence can be measured in tests or achievement but looking at the world intellectually by noticing the connections and meanings of the world is much more important,’ said Snell. ‘To this day Mr. McNutt continues to influence me, on a personal, spiritual and intellectual level.’ McNutt is the faculty advisor for the PCMS Bass Club. He has influenced many students in his 25-year career as a teacher and as a coach. ’A school system without teachers like Mr. McNutt ‘“ and there are many I could have chosen STAR Teacher from ‘“ could only produce students and not individuals preparing for their own lives. I can say I’ve been influenced by many of my past and present teachers. Without them I wouldn’t be remotely prepared for my life after graduation from an intellectual level,’ said Snell. ‘The many excellent teachers of our school system are instrumental in developing the thoughts and ideas of students, giving them more than merely a diploma.’ Snell’s favorite subject is science and he enjoyed physics since it combines mathematics and the physical world with problem solving. He also enjoys English and combinations of science and writing. Warren’s mother and stepfather are Bonnie and Rod Smith. His father and stepmother are Eric and Carrie Snell. His brother is Jackson Snell and his sisters are Shelby, Bethany and Mallory Tilson. John Michael Williams For STAR student John Michael Williams, being recognized for his SAT score of 2120 gave him the perfect opportunity to honor his longtime CrossPointe Christian Academy literature teacher Charlsie Park. He chose her as his STAR teacher. ’We’ve always had a unique relationship. When we moved into the new high school building I helped her hang her posters and organize her room,’ he said. ‘She let me sit in her classroom in eighth grade when I had a free period. At the end of the semester she told me I was her favorite non-student. She taught me American literature, British literature and world literature. She also advised me in the essay writing process for my college applications, as well as writing letters of recommendation.’ Chosen from more than 2,500 qualified applicants, Williams was one of only 300 students accepted to the prestigious University of South Carolina Honors College. Acceptance into the Honors College also guaranteed acceptance into the USC International Business College, which is ranked as the number one international business college in the nation. Williams’ interest in international business began in his junior year, when he was chosen as CrossPointe’s first delegate on the Washington Youth Tour, sponsored by Southern Rivers Energy.  ’I love language and culture. Combining those two passions, I want to pursue a career in international business,’ he said. ‘The Washington Youth Tour was a cool experience. I got to see how the Senate works and about how people connect to do business.’ Williams will have to take six years of Spanish in college and become a foreign exchange student for at least one semester. Because of his acceptance into the honors college he will not have to pay out of state tuition fees. He has also applied for several scholarships to help with the costs. John Michael is the son of Malcolm and Krista Williams. His brother, Colin, is scheduled to graduate from the University of Georgia in May with a master’s degree in Marine Science. ’He will still be my brother, except on days when the two colleges play each other in football,’ he joked. Williams played football and soccer for CrossPointe Christian Academy and participated in drama club, student government and Literary Competition. He has been a Beta Club member for four years, and served as both vice president and president. He is also a member of the National Honor Society. His literature teacher is sure he will continue to be an excellent student as he pursues his dreams through the USC honors program. ’He’s a dream student,’ said Park. ‘He gets it and is willing to share it. Some students get it but aren’t willing to participate in class. It’s obvious he loves literature, analyzing text and critical thinking and that’ll take him far.’ Williams feels CrossPointe was instrumental in his academic success and will help him be ahead of the curve in college since the school offers Monday, Wednesday and Friday classes and Tuesday and Thursday electives, similar to the college structure. ’CrossPointe has been a great school for college preparatory. The classes are pretty rigorous and we learn various study techniques that’ll help in college,’ he said. ‘Mrs. Park taught us to read in depth, wonder what the author and the characters are thinking and to use that type of analysis to help retain what we’re reading.’

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