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Harvey and McCombs are Bulloch's STARs
Top high school seniors honor influential teachers
W STAR Student  Teacher
Statesboro High senior Nick Harvey, center, celebrates being named the 2016 STAR student for Bulloch County with his STAR teacher Rich McCombs, left, and Harvey's parents, Nick and Deborah Harvey, while Ogeechee Technical College employee Angela Alston joins in. - photo by JIM HEALY/staff

Nicholas "Nick" Harvey, the 2016 Bulloch County STAR student, is an accomplished oboe player - first oboe in three different ensembles, in fact - who may go to Georgia Tech to major in a math or science field, although he hasn't ruled out Duke or studying international relations.

Harvey, 17, middle child of biology professor Dr. Alan Harvey and graphic design agency owner Deborah Harvey, chose Richard McCombs as his STAR teacher.

"He's an awesome chess player, and he's good at the oboe," McCombs said of Harvey. "He's a talented kid, and whenever he picks something up he gets kind of focused on it and does tremendous work, and he's not really brash about it, doesn't brag about it, but he's willing to sit back and help other classmates."

McCombs taught Harvey in his 11th-grade Advanced Placement environmental science and scientific research class, but is a friend of his parents and first met the young Harvey when he was in elementary school and joined the chess team with McCombs' son.

Harvey and McCombs received the awards Tuesday night at the STAR Celebration hosted by the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce in Ogeechee Technical College's new Natural Resources Building.

STAR, the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program, was created "to shine the light on Georgia's highest-achieving high school seniors and those teachers that they select that are most instrumental in their academic development," said Brandy Taylor, chair of the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber's education and workforce development committee.

Before the countywide winners were announced, the committee's co-chair, Dr. Steve Burrell, first presented awards to the STAR students and teachers representing five public and private high schools in Bulloch County.

More than SAT scores

To receive a STAR student nomination, soon-to-graduate high school seniors must be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class and have the highest score from a single test date on the three-part SAT college admissions test.

A perfect score is 2400. Harvey's "super score," of combined top scores from the reading, math and writing sections after taking the SAT more than once, was 2240. He said he was surprised to be the county-wide winner, since he was thinking only of that score and not the single-sitting score required for STAR honors.

Harvey started dual-enrolling at Georgia Southern last year, and is currently taking two academic classes, as well as wind symphony and private oboe instruction, at the university, plus band and AP economics at Statesboro High.

Harvey started piano lessons in elementary school, but first picked up the oboe four years ago for school band. Today, he's principal oboe player in Georgia Southern University's wind symphony, Statesboro High's symphonic band, and the Averitt Center for the Arts' chamber orchestra.

Another of his favorite activities is Model United Nations. He was part of a Model U.N. Distinguished Delegation the last two years and achieved Honorable Delegation recognition two previous years.

McCombs has been Bulloch County STAR teacher once before, in 2012, with that year's Bulloch STAR student, who went on to win the regional honor.

"Other than my parents, he has been probably one of the biggest influences on my life, just like, constant support," Harvey said.

He thanked his parents first, then his counselor Tiffany Weathers and SHS Principal Dr. Ken LeCain, saying "without you guys there would be no way that I'd be here."

Eight more STARs

Bulloch Academy's 2016 STAR student is David Liu. He chose Beth Bennett, his senior-year AP government teacher, to share the academy's STAR honors.

Portal High School's STAR student, Maggie Channell, chose Lance Parrish, who taught Channell in 11th-grade U.S. history, as Portal's STAR teacher.

Southeast Bulloch High School's STAR student is Sara McCracken. She chose her 11th-grade English and language arts teacher, Linda Fix, to share the school STAR honors. Fix has been a STAR teacher five times previously, according to an information sheet provided by the Chamber of Commerce.

Trinity Christian School's 2016 STAR student, Nicholas Gross, chose Julie Smith as the school's STAR teacher. She taught Gross in first grade.

Harvey and McCombs will now represent Bulloch County at the Region 8 STAR Luncheon, March 16 on the Georgia Southern campus. The region-winning student and teacher pair, chosen from among 16 area school districts, will advance to the Georgia STAR Banquet, held in Atlanta in April.

Now in its 58th year, the STAR program is sponsored statewide by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, or PAGE, Foundation, but was founded by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

Since its inception, the program has honored nearly 25,500 students and the teachers they have selected.

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.


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