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School system selects its STAR students

COVINGTON - Three high schools students skipped part of the school day Thursday, but they had a good excuse. They were accepting their awards as the 2008 Newton County STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) students.

The Newton County School System announced the three students at Thursday's Covington Kiwanis Club meeting.

"This is one of my favorite programs (when) we recognize young people who have done some very good things academically," Covington Kiwanis Club President David Larimer said.

The students are Newton High School's Thaddeus Carpenter, Eastside High School's Spencer Tompkins and Alcovy High School's Justin Michael Walden, all seniors.

The STAR program, which is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, is in its 50th year, honoring more than 21,000 high school seniors.

"To obtain the STAR nomination, high school seniors must have the highest score in one sitting on the three-part SAT taken through the December test date of their senior year and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average," according to a STAR brochure.

Walden scored a 2230 out of 2400 on his SAT, while Carpenter scored a 2070 and Tompkins scored a 1970.

NCSS chose Walden as the system's 2008 STAR Student.

"Justin has been accepted to Emory University and plans to major in neuroscience and behavioral biology, after which he would like to attend medical school," according to a press release from NCSS.

He will compete for region honors, which could allow him to be eligible for state STAR scholarships and awards.

"Opening up a new school is a big challenge, but when you see kids come out of school like this (Walden), it's an honor and privilege," said Alcovy High School Principal David Easterday.

Newton's Carpenter said he is still undecided about a college and a major, but he said he plans to major in some liberal arts field at a Catholic or state school.

"It's always an honor to see our kids recognized," said Newton High School Principal Joe Gheesling. "We have so many things going on in our schools every day - something is always going on when you walk down the hallways ... and look in the classrooms seeing kids learning. I'm proud to be a part of it."

Tompkins, who already finished his classes at Eastside, plans to attend Mercer University and major in engineering on a scholarship.

"He really surprised me," said Eastside High School Principal Robert Daria. "It's true accolades for the Newton County School System."

The students also brought their chosen STAR teachers with them to Thursday's meeting. Walden chose his Latin teacher, Charles Gammel; Tompkins picked Latin teacher Eric Adams; and Carpenter selected English teacher Pamela Greer.

"These are blue-chip players and the schools they go to are lucky to have them," said Kiwanis member Perry Haymore about the students.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.