Abigail McMillian didn't capture top honors at Wednesday's annual Region 8 STAR Student/Teacher Banquet, but the Southeast Bulloch High School senior said she would always appreciate being named to represent Bulloch County for 2019.
"It's an honor to be Bulloch County's STAR student," McMillian said. "I was shocked, but I'm very proud to have been able to have been selected."
The top award Wednesday went to Chatham County students Caroline Adkins and Caitlinn Ellis, who tied for the 2019 Region 8 Student Teacher Achievement Recognition honor at the luncheon held on the Georgia Southern University campus.
Region 8, which includes Bulloch and Chatham counties, had 18 students from its 16 counties up for the Region 8 STAR Student award.
Adkins and Ellis will now go to the State PAGE STAR Banquet in Duluth on April 23. At the State Banquet, both students will compete for scholarships and awards.
SEB's McMillian scored a 1460 on her SAT and has a 4.0 GPA at Southeast Bulloch. She chose her eighth-grade math teacher Mary Jones as her STAR Teacher.
"She really prepared me for high school and all the AP classes," McMillian said about Jones, who teaches at Southeast Bulloch Middle School. "She just made me work a lot harder than all the other teachers and instilled a work ethic in me."
McMillian hopes to attend the University of Georgia where she plans to major in music education.
Caroline Adkins, Islands High School
Adkins is a senior at Islands High School. She scored a 1580 out of a maximum 1600 on her SAT and has a 98.8 grade average, equal to a 4.0.
She was shocked to hear her name called as one of the region's STAR students.
"I'm in shock, honestly in awe," Adkins said. "I did not expect this today at all."
Every STAR Student chooses a STAR Teacher to be recognized alongside them, and Adkins choose Megan Heberle.
"I'm just really thankful for my STAR Teacher, Megan Heberle," Adkins said. "She has done so much for me over the past three years. She's the reason why I got to go to the Governor's Honors Program last summer. She's the reason I get to publish a manuscript this year."
Adkins has been working since last March on a manuscript examining hematocrits in songbirds. It is currently under review and she hopes to publish it this year.
She hopes to go on to major in biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech after graduation.
Caitlinn Ellis, Savannah Christian Prep School
Ellis is a senior at Savannah Christian Prep School. She scored 1580 on her SAT and has an unweighted GPA of 4.0 and a weighted GPA of 4.7.
She was equally surprised to hear her named called as the Region 8 STAR student.
"I was at first really surprised and really grateful for my teacher," Ellis said.
Ellis chose Patti Peebles, her French teacher of three years, as her STAR teacher.
"She just makes me feel more confident in myself, which I kind of struggled in, but she always lifted me up," Ellis said about Peebles. "She was always there when I needed her to be."
Ellis hopes to major in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech after she graduates.
Student Teacher Achievement Recognition Program
The STAR Program started in 1958 to honor the state's highest achieving high school seniors as well as the teachers who have played a role in their success. The program has honored nearly 27,000 students and teachers.
The program was started to honor and promote the academic achievement of students and to recognize the efforts of teachers and to promote teaching as a career.
Sponsors of the STAR Program include the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the PAGE Foundation and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Foundation.