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NCSS, Kiwanis Club of Covington announce 2017 STAR Students, STAR Teachers
David Ozburn, president of Kiwanis Club of Covington, from left; Luke Campbell; Karen Booth; Kara Gartner; Ebony Green; Mary Schlueter; Dr. Renee Mallard; and Dr. Craig Lockhart, deputy superintendent of Newton County Schools. (Submitted photo | The Covington News)

Staff Reports

Newton County School System and the Kiwanis Club of Covington are pleased to announce the 2017 STAR Students and STAR Teachers.

In order to obtain the STAR nomination, high school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the three-part SAT.  The SAT is a national college entrance exam some colleges and universities utilize to measure critical thinking skills students need for academic success in college. The SAT assesses how well students analyze and solve problems. It is typically taken by high school juniors and seniors. Each section of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200 to 800, with the new version of the exam worth a total of 1600 points. In order to qualify for STAR Student, the student must also be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average.

“The Kiwanis Club of Covington is honored to partner with the Newton County School System again by sponsoring these STAR students,” David Ozburn, president of the Kiwanis Club of Covington, said. “These are impressive individuals whose hard work and achievements even at this early stage in life are inspiring. We wish them luck in all they do going forward and we are confident they will each have great success in whatever they choose to do.”

Newton County School System’s three high school STAR Students and STAR Teachers are:

Alcovy High School—Luke Campbell

Luke Campbell is Alcovy High School’s 2017 STAR Student.  He scored a very impressive 1290 out of 1600 on the SAT. In addition to his studies, Luke has participated in numerous extra-curricular activities at Alcovy High School, including drum line for the marching band, FBLA, Key Club, DECA, PBIS Diplomats, National Honor Society, Beta Club, Sources of Strength, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy, and the Student Government Association. During his time at Alcovy, Luke has taken several Advanced Placement (AP) courses, including U.S. History, English Language, Chemistry, Statistics, Biology, Macroeconomics, and English Literature.

Luke plans to attend Oxford College at Emory for two years before transitioning to the Emory University campus.  He plans to major in biology with a possible minor in business. Luke truly excels in science as he won awards at the school system science fair, the regional science fair and the state science fair last year. He was also the first student to represent Newton County School System at the Intel International Science Fair! Luke’s career ambition is to become a cardiologist. 

Luke selected his biology teacher, Ms. Karen Booth, as his STAR Teacher. This is Ms. Booth’s second time being selected as a STAR teacher.

When asked why he selected Ms. Booth, Luke stated, “She takes the subject of biology, which is so complex and makes it very easy to understand. I am successful in her class because of her teaching. Plus, she is very open to helping the students in her class.”

According to Ms. Booth, Luke truly is a star student.   

“It has been a pleasure to teach Luke Campbell this year in AP Biology,” she said. “He not only rises to all expectations but has a sense of humor that allows the learning experience to be fun and because of that, memorable!  He has made our school and county proud by placing and going to National Science Fair.  He has been a valuable leader and member of our ‘Tiger Clan’ at Alcovy High School.  I feel honored to have been chosen by him as his Star teacher when the truth of the matter is that he is my Star student.  Remember the name, Luke Campbell, because I know we will be seeing great things from him in the future!”

Eastside High School – Mary Schlueter

Mary Schlueter is Eastside High School’s 2017 STAR Student. She achieved an excellent score of 1420 out of 1600 on the SAT. While at Eastside High School, Mary has participated in numerous extra-curricular activities, including Key Club, of which she is president, the Pride of Eastside marching band, of which she is not only a trombone player but also serves as section leader and band captain, and the Eastside symphonic band. She has also been a four-year member of the Eastside High School swim team. 

Mary has taken several AP classes during her time at Eastside, including World History, English Language and Composition, Music Theory, English Literature and Composition, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Calculus, and Biology.  She has applied to Mercer University where she plans to major in biomedical engineering with a possible minor in music. Her career goal is to research and develop new medical devices and medicines to make life easier for those with medical issues.

Mary chose as her STAR teacher, Mr. Leo Mallard, her freshman Quest Biology teacher. This was the first time Mr. Mallard was selected as a STAR teacher.

When asked why she selected Mr. Mallard, Mary explained, “My freshman year, I was painfully shy and I had a hard time opening up to anyone. I was too shy to ask questions in most classes, even if I didn’t understand the topic. As the year went on, I felt comfortable enough around Mr. Mallard to ask for help when needed, which transferred over into other classes, boosting my confidence level and my grades.  His class was a highlight for me and his personality could brighten any day. He contributed to me overcoming my shyness and in turn helped give me the confidence to work hard and become who I am today.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Mallard passed away last year after a very brave and valiant fight against cancer.

“Mr. Mallard would have been honored and humbled by your selection, and his family is touched and honored that you selected him as your STAR Teacher,” said Mr. Mallard’s wife, Dr. Renee Mallard, principal of Indian Creek Middle School. “Throughout his career, he expected the very best from his students, he pushed them to do their best, and he gave them his very best in return. He could see what you could do and be, would have wanted you to believe in yourself, and would have been thrilled to see you achieve your goals. You are a very well-rounded young lady. You've challenged yourself academically, and you embraced your passion for music with your passion for learning.  He would be thrilled that you chose the field of science and biomedical engineering; he would have looked forward to hearing about your accomplishments and I will as well.”

Newton High School & Newton County School System – Kara Gartner

Kara Gartner is Newton High School’s 2017 STAR Student and Newton High School’s 2017 valedictorian. She is also Newton County School System’s 2017 STAR Student because she had the highest SAT score in the district. Kara scored an outstanding 1430 out of 1600 on the SAT. Her extra-curricular activities at Newton High School have included drama, 4-H, and soccer. She has taken AP world history and AP language at Newton. In addition, Kara is in the dual enrollment program and as a result has been taking classes at Georgia State Perimeter College. Those college classes include physics, astronomy, literature, calculus, and social studies. When she graduates from high school in May, in addition to her diploma, she will also only be a few credits shy of an associate’s degree.

Kara plans to transfer to Georgia State’s Atlanta campus as she has been accepted to their Honors College. Her goal is to major in astrophysics, obtain a doctorate, and ultimately work for NASA to study the origins of the universe.

Kara chose former Newton High School teacher Ebony Green, her AP English Language teacher, as her STAR Teacher. This is Ms. Green’s second time being selected as a STAR teacher.

When asked why she chose Ms. Green, Kara said, “She has impacted me the most. She prepared me the most for college classes. In her class, I never felt like I did anything but my very best. I felt like I earned my grade in her class.”

“Kara is a bright, shining star, said Green. “Very consistent and highly intellectual. She's intuitive and very open minded. She exudes confidence and determination. She's going very far in life; outside of her academic strengths, she's very kind and always willing to help others. It was a pleasure to teach her, and I wish her all the best.”

“These STAR students are indicative of the high-quality, high-caliber students we have in Newton County,” said Shannon Buff, NCSS Director of Secondary Education. “They prove that our students can compete on not only the national but global levels. We commend Luke, Mary, and Kara for staying the course and demonstrating what one can accomplish through hard work and discipline. In addition, we thank the parents, teachers, and leaders who have supported these students through the years.”

The PAGE Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation. Since its inception, the STAR program has honored more than 26,000 students and the teachers they have selected as having had the most influence on their academic success.