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The STARs of Newtons schools
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Juweek Adolphe went with self-deprecating jokes, Seth Kimbrell played it pretty straight and Stephanie Lightsey went old school.

The 2012 STAR Students unveiled Thursday represented the best and most diverse students Newton County has to offer.

"I'm honored to be a STAR Student because I really don't think I'm that smart. It's just humbling that so many people care about your future education," said Adolphe, a senior at Alcovy High School.

Each student also chose a STAR Teacher who had a great influence on their education.

"Why did I pick (teacher Ryan) Denison? He held me at gunpoint," said Aldophe, soliciting laughs from members of the Kiwanis Club of Covington, which has sponsored the STAR Student and Teacher Recognition Program for more than 50 years. "The reason I chose Dennison was because he tolerates my stupidity. He's just an amazing teacher. He doesn't talk to you, he talks with you."

STAR Students must be high school seniors who score the highest on the SAT on a single test date and must be in the top 10 percent of students in grade point average in their class.

Adolphe scored 1980 out of 2400 on the SAT. He participated on the Alcovy High School Reading Bowl Team, which recently won the region championships, and the Alcovy High School Economic Team.

Before redistricting, he was at Newton High School, where he was a member of the
web design team and Technology Student Association.

He hasn't decided on a career path or major but has decided to attend the University of Georgia. Denison, Advanced Placement European History Teacher, was chosen as a STAR teacher for the second time.

Eastside High School
Kimbrell is hoping to attend Yale University for good reason, as he was Eastside's valedictorian and scored 2300 out of 2400 on the SAT, including a perfect score on the reading portion of the test. He was named the overall school system STAR Student.

"It's very humbling and very much an honor to be the STAR Student. It definitely feels like the culmination of quite a few years of hard work and really putting effort into this," Kimbrell said.

Kimbrell was recently named a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist, one of only approximately 15,000 in the nation, and is in the running for one of the 8,300 National Merit Scholarships that will be awarded in 2012.

Kimbrell attends Georgia Perimeter College as part of the Dual Enrollment Program and is taking courses in English, psychology and geology. He also has two advanced placement classes, Economics and Latin V.

He participates in cross country, the Academic Team, Junior Classical and Latin V. He has already been accepted to Georgia Tech; however, his first choice is Yale, where he is currently on deferment. He has also applied to Georgia, Dartmouth College and Harvard, Princeton and Vanderbilt universities.

Seth plans to major in Latin, and, fittingly, selected his Latin teacher Eric Adams as his STAR Teacher, the sixth time Adams has being been selected.

"I picked Mr. Adams as my STAR teacher because he has taught me ever since the beginning of my sophomore year," Kimbrell said. "He has turned Latin from a dead language to my absolute favorite subject and he has really become a sort of high school mentor to me throughout my high school career."

"It makes your job really easy and enjoyable when you see such good students," Adams said. "I have the great fortunate to teach some great students like Seth. He's definitely one that stands out and shines on his own."

Newton High School
Lightsey choose her fifth grade teacher at Porterdale Elementary, Debora Ondracek, to be her STAR Teacher, which caused Sherri Davis-Viniard, the school's public relations director, to say that might be the first time an elementary teacher was selected.

"They told me I could pick any teacher," Lightsey said, eliciting laughs. "Fifth grade is such a fun year, and it really just got me excited about learning and it got me interested in science a lot and that's why I chose animal science to be a veterinarian.

"Ms. Ondracek taught me how to write. I've always loved writing, but she really taught me how to do it well. Writing is probably the most important skill you have to have in high school and college and it's really helped me a lot."

Lightsey scored 2050 on her SAT and is Newton's valedictorian. She is a member of Newton's Beta Club and Drama Club and has been inducted into the National Honor
Society. Outside of school, she has participated in the Oxford Youth Singers and the Covington/Conyers Choral Guild. She has been on the "All A" honor roll all each of her four years in high school.

She is a joint enrollment student at Georgia Perimeter College, where her honors writing teacher suggested she should tutor GPC students.

Lightsey will attend Georgia and plans to major in agricultural science and become a veterinarian.

The quotable Dr. Mathews
"What a magnificent display from three young people whose future is very, very bright, and who can't help but make we in this adult audience feel like the future in their hands is in good stead," said Gary Mathews, school system superintendent.

"When you see young people like this, you just know that God is still alive, and he's out there working his miracle in the lives of the young people we saw here today. You make us very proud all three of you, and I look forward to learning about what you're going to be one day."

Mathews also had praise for the STAR Teachers.

"I can't think of a more important profession or vocation that that of teacher. My family is replete with school administrators and teachers, and I know what they have meant to many, many kids across many, many years, as well as the three teachers who are seated here this afternoon. They do touch the future. They do help fashion what our world will be, and their legacy will live well beyond any superintendent or deputy superintendent or and HR director or any principal for that matter. They are the bottom line."