2020 Star

The Newton County Schools System STAR Students and Teachers were honored at a celebratory luncheon Thursday afternoon. Left to right are: STAR Teacher Heather Henderson and Student Kijana Knights (NHS); STAR Teacher David Hornbeck and Student Eathan Xu (EHS); STAR Student Austin Wells, Teacher Amy Fraser, STAR Student Miguel Ruiz-Sanchez and Teacher Brian Johnson (AHS).

COVINGTON — The Newton County School System and the Kiwanis Club of Covington celebrated the 2020 STAR Students and STAR Teachers at a luncheon Thursday afternoon.

In order to obtain the STAR nomination, high school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the SAT. The SAT is a national college entrance exam some colleges and universities use 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 current 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 ten percent or top ten students of their class based on grade point average.

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

Eastside High School and NCSS STAR Student: Eathan Xu.

Xu is a senior at Eastside High School and their 2020 STAR Student; he is also Newton County School System’s 2020 STAR Student, because he had the highest overall SAT score in the district.

Xu scored 1530 out of 1600 on the SAT. In addition to his classroom studies, Xu participated on the school math team, Quizbowl team and the Junior Classical League Club.

He also served as a math tutor and plays xylophone for the Covington Conyers Community Orchestra. During his time at Eastside, Xu has taken numerous AP classes, including statistics, world history, computer science, calculus, English language, English literature, U.S. history, Latin, microeconomics and macroeconomics.

His goal is to attend Georgia Tech, where he’d like to major in astrophysics and become an astrophysicist.

Xu chose his math teacher, David Hornbeck, as his STAR Teacher. This is Hornbeck’s second time being selected as a STAR teacher.

Alcovy High School: Miguel Ruiz-Sanchez and Austin Wells.

This year, Alcovy High School has not one but two STAR Students as there was a tie; Miguel Ruiz-Sanchez and Austin Wells, each posted the same score on the SAT. As a result, there are also two STAR Teachers.

Ruiz-Sanchez is a senior at Alcovy High School and he is also a Dual Enrollment student at Georgia State Perimeter College. Ruiz-Sanchez scored 1300 out of 1600 on the SAT. In addition to his studies, Ruiz-Sanchez played soccer and is also a member of the National Honor Society. During his time at Alcovy, Ruiz-Sanchez has taken numerous AP classes, including Human Geography, World History, Calculus, English Language, Environmental Science, Psychology and U.S. History.

He plans to attend Mercer University and major in criminal justice with a possible minor in philosophy. His career goal is to become an attorney.

Ruiz-Sanchez selected Brian Johnson as his STAR Teacher. He was a student in Johnson’s AP psychology class in 11th grade. This is Johnson’s first time being selected as a STAR teacher.

Wells also scored a 1300 out of 1600 on the SAT. In addition to his studies, Wells participated in chorus, the Tri-M Club, and the National Honor Society. During his time at Alcovy, Wells has taken numerous AP classes, including human geography, biology, world history, environmental science, calculus, statistics, U.S. history, macroeconomics, literature and English language.

He plans to attend Georgia Tech. While he has not decided on a major yet, he is leaning towards computer engineering. After college Wells would like to work at Delta or Coca-Cola.

Wells selected Amy Fraser as his STAR Teacher. Wells is a student in Fraser’s AP literature class this year.

Newton High School: Kijana Knights.

Knights is a senior at Newton High School and the NCCA STEM Institute. He scored 1310 out of 1600 on the SAT. During his high school career, Knights has participated in numerous extracurricular activities at both Newton High School and the STEM Institute, including track, cross country, Junior ROTC, Beta Club, National Honor Society, NCCA board of directors and STEM Student Council.

Knights has taken several AP classes, including world history, English language, U.S. history, calculus, biology, statistics, literature and macroeconomics.

Knights was nominated to and accepted to attend not one but two U.S. military academies. Both the United States Naval Academy and Army’s West Point offered him appointments. In the end, Knights chose the Army, so he will be heading to West Point after graduation. He would like to major in political science at West Point and then after a career as a military officer, Knights would like to run for political office.

Knights chose his AP U.S. history teacher at the Career Academy, Heather Henderson, as his STAR Teacher.

“These STAR students are indicative of the high-quality, high-caliber students we have in Newton County,” said Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent of Newton County School System. “We commend Miguel, Austin, Kijana, and Eathan 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 program is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation. Since its inception, the STAR program has honored more than 27,500 students and the teachers they have selected as having had the most influence on their academic success.

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Covington native and proud Valdosta State alumna, Hunter has previously worked with The Covington News and Valdosta Daily Times. She started working for Rockdale/Newton Citizen in June 2018.

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