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Newton names district and high schools' STAR students
Winners have top SAT scores, are among top 10% in their classes
2021 STAR students
From left are Alcovy High STAR Student Logan Dobar and STAR Teacher Ryan Allred; Eastside and NCSS STAR Student Joyce Li and STAR Teacher Eric Adams; and Newton High STAR Student Russell Danilchuk and STAR Teacher Joshua Cook. - photo by Courtesy of the Newton County School System

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County School System has announced its district and school-level 2021 STAR Students and STAR Teachers. 

Joyce Li, a senior at Eastside High School, earned the school system's Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) Student award after winning Eastside's award. 

High school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the SAT national college entrance exam in their school to earn a school-level STAR award. They must also be in the top 10% or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average, a news release stated.

Winners then can choose a teacher they want to honor as their STAR Teacher.

With her score of 1460 on the SAT, Li earned the Newton County School System’s 2021 STAR Student award because she earned the highest SAT score in the district. She chose Latin teacher Eric Adams as her STAR Teacher, the release stated.

The Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation sponsors the program statewide while local civic organizations typically sponsor the local program. 

District winners are eligible to move on to the program's regional and statewide competitions.

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

ALCOVY HIGH SCHOOL — Logan Dobar and Ryan Allred.

Logan Dobar is a senior at Alcovy High School and a Dual Enrollment student at Georgia State University's Perimeter College, the release stated. 

He also attended the NCCA STEM Institute. 

Dobar is Alcovy High School’s 2021 STAR Student after scoring a very impressive 1370 out of 1600 on the SAT. 

In addition to his dual enrollment classes, Dobar participated in the NCCA Electrathon car team, the VEX Robotics Team, and the Technology Student Association throughout high school. Through his membership in those clubs, he competed in numerous events. 

According to Dobar, he will attend Georgia Southern University in the fall with plans to major in electrical engineering. 

He selected Ryan Allred from NCCA STEM Institute as his STAR Teacher. Dobar was a student in Allred’s engineering class. 

This is Allred’s first time being selected as a STAR teacher, the release stated.

“Mr. Allred went above and beyond in teaching engineering, organizing the chapter of the Technology Student Association, the Vex Robotics team, and more," Dobar said. "Additionally, he taught his courses well with large amounts of hands-on learning experience.”


Li has taken numerous Advanced Placement courses throughout high school, including Latin, chemistry, calculus, world history, U.S. history, macroeconomics, microeconomics, computer science principles, literature, and language and composition. 

She also plays French horn in the Eastside Wind Ensemble and has participated in numerous extracurricular activities, including the Academic Team, Junior Classical League, Student Council, and the Governor’s Honors Program. 

She plans to attend Georgia Tech in the fall to major in computer science with a possible minor in Chinese, the release stated.

Li chose her Latin teacher, Eric Adams, as her STAR Teacher. This is Adams’ 10th time being selected as a STAR teacher. 

“I’ve been in Mr. Adams’ class for over one-seventh of my high school career. If you include Academic Team practices and JCL (Junior Classical League) meetings, it might be bumped up to one-fifth.

"Even though I wasn’t the biggest Latin nerd, Mr. Adams and his way of teaching turned me into one. His classes were always interesting and the tangents that would inevitably ensue during class were always the highlight of my day. 

"It’s impossible to accurately describe how much Mr. Adams changed my life. Academic team and JCL made up my identity in high school. Both were run by him and I can’t imagine not being in either. The countless tournaments that I went to and the conventions that I attended were only possible because I had met Mr. Adams. Heck, I even applied for GHP (Governor’s Honors Program) just because he asked me one day if I was interested."

She said her "proudest accomplishment" in her high school career was an email she received from Adams in November 2019, the release stated. 

"During that time, I was really stressed about school and we had just had a Quiz Bowl tournament the week before that I did exceptionally well in," she said.

"Mr. Adams sent me an email saying that he recognized, admired, and appreciated all the work that I put in for school and Quiz Bowl. I read it and started crying. 

"Up until that point, I had never really been applauded for my efforts in school, especially by a teacher. Having someone say, ‘I see you. Your efforts are recognized’ meant so much to me, especially from someone that I really respect and hold in high regard. 

"It was better than any prize or admission acceptance because this act of kindness came completely out of nowhere. I printed out that email and got it signed by Mr. Adams the next morning. It’s currently taped to my wall right in front of my desk. I think I’ll bring it to college with me.”

• NEWTON HIGH SCHOOL — Russell Danilchuk and Joshua Cook.

Russell Danilchuk is a senior at Newton High School and the NCCA STEM Institute. He is also Newton High School’s 2021 STAR Student, as he scored 1400 out of 1600 on the SAT. 

Danilchuk has taken numerous Advanced Placement courses throughout his high school career, including world history, U.S. history, macroeconomics, English language, literature, physics, and calculus. He has also participated in several extracurricular activities, including the Technology Student Association, FBLS, Robotics, and the Electrathon Car team, the release stated. 

Danilchuk plans to attend Georgia Tech in the fall to major in aerospace engineering. 

He chose his AP Calculus teacher at the Career Academy, Joshua Cook, from NCCA STEM Institute, as his STAR Teacher. This is the second time Cook has been selected as a STAR Teacher.

“Mr. Cook always motivated me to do better in math and teaches in a way that I think every teacher should teach," Danilchuk said. "He has always been very supportive of me not only in calculus but in all my other accomplishments as well.”

Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent of the Newton County School System, said the winners "are indicative of the high-quality, high-caliber students we have in Newton County.”

“We commend Logan, Russell and Joyce 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,” Fuhrey said.

Some colleges and universities utilize the SAT 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, according to the release. 

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. 

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 nearly 28,000 students and the teachers they have selected as having had the most influence on their academic success.