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Newton County schools name 2023 STAR award winners
STAR students 2023
From left are Newton High STAR Student Dhakiya Knights and STAR Teacher Laura Lambert; Eastside High STAR Teacher Ryan Allred and STAR Student Joseph Cloer; and Alcovy High STAR Student Savannah Stanton and STAR Teacher Michele Nichols; and NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. (Special | Newton County School System)

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton County School System named its 2023 STAR Student award winner Thursday and the three who took the same honor at each high school.

The Newton County School System (NCSS) and the Kiwanis Club of Covington announced the winners from Alcovy, Eastside and Newton high schools and the STAR Teacher each student was allowed to choose as part of the statewide competition among SAT test-takers that the Professional Association of Georgia Educators hosts on the state level. 

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

ALCOVY HIGH SCHOOL — STAR Student Savannah Stanton and STAR Teacher Michele Nichols.

Stanton is a senior at Alcovy High School, and she was named Alcovy High School’s Star Student after scoring 1230 out of 1600 on the SAT. She has taken AP Computer Science Principles and World History at Alcovy High School. She has also completed 42 credit hours and is currently working on seven more hours at Georgia State University's Perimeter College. 

In her spare time, Stanton tutors different math subjects such as Algebra I, Algebra II, and Calculus. 

Stanton has applied to Florida State University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Georgia. Her goal is to major in mathematics with a minor in chemistry. She would like to earn a master’s degree with an emphasis in Actuarial Science and work her way up to a high position at an actuarial firm. 

She selected her 11th-grade American Literature teacher, Michele Nichols, as her STAR Teacher. 

“I selected Mrs. Nichols because she was the first teacher I ever had at Alcovy, along with my most memorable," Stanton said. "Her class was always a pleasant learning environment, along with a safe space where I feel like I could talk to her about anything.” 

This is Nichols’ second time being named a STAR Teacher. 

EASTSIDE HIGH SCHOOL — School and NCSS STAR Student Joseph Cloer and STAR Teacher Ryan Allred.

Cloer is a senior at Eastside High School and NCCA STEM Institute. Cloer is both Eastside High School’s 2023 STAR Student and Newton County School System’s 2023 STAR Student after posting the highest SAT score in the district — 1470 out of 1600. 

Cloer has taken several Advanced Placement courses during his high school career, including World History, U.S. History, Language & Composition, Physics, Seminar, Literature, Statistics, Computer Science, and Macroeconomics. 

He is also very involved in extracurricular activities, including Cross Country, TSA, and Theater. 

He has served as the captain of both the math team and the academic team and is a member of both the Oxford Acting Company and the Oxford Youth Singers.

Cloer has already been accepted to Kennesaw State University. However, his ultimate goal is to attend Georgia Tech, where he would like to pursue a major in computer science with a minor in math. His career goal is to become a programmer or computer designer. 

Cloer chose engineering teacher, Ryan Allred, as his STAR Teacher.

“Mr. Allred has been there for me and helped me figure out what I want to do in the future. He’s the one who guided me on the path to computer science,” Cloer said.

This is Allred’s fourth time being selected a STAR Teacher.

Cloer is now eligible to move on to the regional competition for the award.

NEWTON HIGH SCHOOL — STAR Student Dhakiya Knights and STAR Teacher Laura Lambert.

Knights is a senior at Newton High School and the NCCA STEM Institute. She is also Newton High School’s 2023 STAR Student, after scoring 1450 out of 1600 on the SAT in one sitting. During her high school career, Knights has participated in numerous extracurricular activities including HOSA, Beta Club, National Honor Society, Tennis and the STEM Council. She is also on the Associate Board of Directors at the Newton College & Career Academy.

Knights has taken several AP classes, including Psychology, World History, U.S. History, Language & Composition, Calculus, Biology, Literature, Macroeconomics, Seminar, and Statistics.

She has applied to numerous universities, including Yale, Columbia, New York University, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Mercer, Georgia College & State University, Georgia State University, Wesleyan, Baylor, Augusta, Emory, Cornell, and Harvard. 

Her plan is to major in either neuroscience or psychology, depending on which school she ultimately attends. She would also like to minor in communications. Knights' career goal is to become a physician and biomedical researcher, she said.

Knights chose her Advanced Placement biology teacher, Laura Lambert, as her STAR Teacher. 

“I have had Ms. Lambert all four years and through it all she has been one of my top supporters. She is always there pushing; she’s a driving force yet down to earth and humble. She’s a teacher I can sit down and have a conversation with and be seen,” Knights said.

This is Lambert’s second time being named a STAR Teacher. 

High school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the SAT to obtain the STAR award nomination. 

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. It assesses how well students analyze and solve problems and 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 current version of the exam worth a total of 1600 points. 

In order to qualify for the STAR Student award, the student must also be in the top 10% or among the top 10 students of their class based on grade point average.

Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent of Newton County School System, said, “These STAR students are indicative of the high-quality, high-caliber students we have in Newton County.

“We commend Savannah, Dhakiya and Joseph 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.”