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Aggarwal, Adamson county-level STARs

STAR students, teachers from 5 schools named

Aggarwal, Adamson county-level STARs

Aggarwal, Adamson county-level STARs

Nidhi Aggarwal, 17, of Statesboro Hig...

Before receiving her high school diploma in May, Bulloch County’s 2014 STAR student, Nidhi Aggarwal, will have earned more than a full year’s college credits. Her SAT score, at a single sitting, was 2280 out of a possible 2400. She is a National Merit Finalist.

The Statesboro High School senior, 17, plans to study cell biology or genetics, probably at the University of Georgia, although she hasn’t ruled out Georgia Tech. She will pursue a career in medicine, like her father, oncologist Dr. Sudhir Aggarwal. Her mother, Neelam Aggarwal, is an instructor in the math department at Georgia Southern University. The family has resided in Statesboro only since 2012.

“All the hard work I’ve been doing in high school, all the nights I spent up cramming for tests, every time I spent additional hours on essays that didn’t require the additional hours, I just feel that it’s paid off, and that’s such a wonderful feeling …,” Aggarwal said. “And it means a lot to me to be able to represent this community that I’ve grown to love so much over the course of the past two years that I’ve been here.”

She chose Mary Adamson, who taught her Advanced Placement government class, as her STAR teacher. They were saluted as the county-level winners in the 2014 Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program at a banquet Tuesday hosted by the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with Georgia Southern University and East Georgia State College.

Aggarwal is the president of Statesboro High’s National Honor Society chapter. Under her leadership, the chapter has started volunteering with the soup kitchen at First United Methodist Church and with Habitat for Humanity and is now setting up a volunteer outreach to middle schools.

She has done these things while completing courses in subjects such as physics, calculus and economics at Georgia Southern, after bringing some college credits with her from Arizona.

Five schools – public Portal High, Southeast Bulloch High and Statesboro High, plus private Bulloch Academy and Trinity Christian School – honored school-level STAR students and teachers at the banquet.

Portal High

Sawyer Davis, Portal High School’s STAR student, chose Shannon Hattaway as STAR teacher.

Davis, the 18-year-old son of Vince and Melony Davis, said he will probably go to Georgia Tech, where he has been accepted, but he hasn’t decided on a major. He is a leading musician in the Portal Middle-High School Band, where he plays bass guitar. He is the editor of the school year book.

Hattaway first taught Davis in a middle school gifted class and more recently in Spanish I in 10th grade and Spanish II in 11th grade.

Southeast Bulloch

Southeast Bulloch High School STAR student Ginna Groover honored Tiffany Todd as her school’s STAR teacher.

Groover, 17, daughter of Cliff Groover and Elaine Groover, is dual enrolled at Georgia Southern and has been accepted to Georgia Tech, where she plans to major in computer science.  At Southeast Bulloch, she has been active in Beta Club, on the math team and in the FFA.

She, too, plays bass guitar, with Pladd Dot Music’s School of Rock, as well as a group at her church, Brooklet United Methodist, and another local band.

Todd teaches social studies classes, including the AP U.S. history class Ginna took last year and the AP human geography class she took as an elective last semester.

Bulloch Academy

Sterling Burke, 18, daughter of Tommy and Terri Burke of Statesboro, is Bulloch Academy’s STAR student. She chose Karen Whitten as STAR teacher.

Burke has served on the Students Special Olympics Committee, helping to plan events and help out during the local games as a volunteer. She wants to become a physical or occupational therapist and work with special needs children. Having taken some classes at Georgia Southern already, she has now been accepted at the University of Georgia in the honor’s program.

A Beta Club member, Burke has achieved commended status in the National Merit Scholarship Program and is an AP Scholar, having completed more than three AP classes and passed the AP exams for potential college credit. She is a cheerleader and a soccer player.

Whitten, a Bulloch Academy science teacher, taught Burke chemistry and biology.

Trinity Christian

Trinity Christian School’s STAR student is James Conners, 18, son of Tim and Christine Conners of Statesboro. He chose Damon Scharff as STAR teacher.

Conners is dual enrolled at Georgia Southern while finishing his studies at Trinity. An Eagle Scout from Troop 340, he built picnic tables at his school as his Eagle project. He sings with Vox Novum, a young adult chorale group hosted by the Averitt Center for the Arts, and played basketball for his school. He plans to major in philosophy at the University of Georgia and is thinking about going on to seminary to become a minister.

Scharff, who arrived at Trinity Christian three years ago has taught Conners all three years, in AP U.S. history, economics and government.

As guest speaker, Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore, a behavior intervention specialist and school psychologist, admitted that she had not been a STAR student, but she mentioned the accomplishments of the STAR student and valedictorian from her 1980 graduating class, and talked about the qualities of more recent STAR students she has known.

“You have the unique opportunity and pleasure to say, ‘I am a STAR student. I persevered. I scored higher than anyone else in my school. I have reached a very monumental milestone. My work has paid off, and yes, I rock,’” Moore said.

STAR students generally have the highest scores from their school in a single sitting on the three-part SAT college admissions test, provided that they are also in the top 10 percent of their class in grades.

Aggarwal will now represent Bulloch County at the region STAR banquet, sponsored by the Exchange Club, March 19 on the GSU campus.

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.


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