GMC Prep’s Wallace named STAR Student | News | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly
One attempt was all it took for GMC Prep student Justin Wallace to post the highest SAT score among local Class of 2021 seniors.
For that, Wallace was chosen as Baldwin County’s STAR student, a recognition he received Friday, April 23.
“It feels great,” Wallace said. “It’s something I didn’t expect at all.”
Joining Wallace in being recognized as school-level STAR students locally were Baldwin High School’s Carlos Abella Ramirez and John Milledge Academy’s Ethan Asbell. Wallace received a $1,000 scholarship for being named the county winner while the other two were given $500 each.
The Student Teach Achievement Recognition (STAR) program is in its 63rd year and is administered statewide by Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE). The STAR program throughout its tenure has honored nearly 28,000 students across the state. For 35 years, the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce has been the chief sponsoring organization locally along with the Rotary Club of Milledgeville. In order to obtain a nomination, graduating high school seniors must have the highest score on a single SAT test date and be either in the top 10% or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average. School-level winners are chosen locally before they go on to compete at the county level. Wallace said he got his highest SAT score in his first attempt, but did decide to take the test again to see if he could up his mark.
As the name suggests, the STAR recognition does not end with the students. Each honoree gets to select one of their instructors who has had a profound impact on their educational journey as his or her STAR teacher. Wallace selected GMC Prep math teacher Maj. Alisha Rochon, who he’s had for honors pre-calculus, AP calculus and AP statistics, as his STAR teacher.
“With advanced and honors classes, there’s a good bit of work you have to do over the summer,” said Wallace. “She was always there to help me and kept me motivated to make sure I got everything done on time.”
Wallace is the son of Jerry and AcQuanette Wallace and is the member of the Senior Beta Club and several different honor societies at GMC. He serves on the Magnolia State Bank Junior Board of Directors and is the president of his church’s youth group where he has helped organize different activities and Vacation Bible School efforts. Wallace is also very involved athletically as a member of the GMC Prep Raiders, basketball and track teams.
The Baldwin County 2021 STAR student’s post-graduation plans are to attend the University of Georgia and major in biology while minoring in business with the vision — that he says is subject to change — of becoming a physical therapist with his own practice.
As for the other local school-level winners, Baldwin High senior Carlos Abella Ramirez was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to the United States with his parents at 1 year old. His family later moved to Milledgeville and enrolled him in the Baldwin County School District where he was since spent many years in the gifted program. Ramirez has also been dual enrolled at Georgia Military College and Georgia College in his high school years. He has served on the school’s yearbook staff as section editor and co-senior editor. Ramirez plans to attend Georgia Tech in the fall, and he selected Ms. Jessica Thompson as his STAR teacher.
John Milledge senior Ethan Asbell has served as captain of both his school’s varsity cross country and soccer teams. He has taken dual enrollment classes at Georgia College since his junior year and AP-level classes since the 10th grade. He serves as president of the JMA student council, Beta Club and National Honor Society. Asbell also plans to attend Georgia Tech this fall where he wants to major in industrial engineering. He chose high school math teacher, David Gallagher, as his STAR teacher.
Normally, a luncheon is held each year locally to recognize all of the STAR students and teachers before the county-level winner is announced. That tradition was skipped this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic as Chamber of Commerce officials instead went to each school to present the honorees with their awards.