Monroe, Ga.) — The Walton County School District is pleased to announce its 2020-21 STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) Students and Teachers. This year’s honorees include Loganville High School’s Anderson Holcomb and Tonya Pohlel; Monroe Area High School’s Alexis Edwards and Nathan Gray; and Walnut Grove High School’s Amanda Cowan and Chris Wheeler. With the highest SAT score among students in Walton County’s private and public schools, Anderson Holcomb was named the county’s Overall STAR Student.
The PAGE STAR program honors Georgia’s highest achieving high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development. To obtain the STAR nomination, high school seniors must have the highest score on any single test date of the SAT and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average. STAR Teachers are selected by the STAR Student.
“Congratulations to our STAR Students and Teachers on this outstanding achievement,” said Superintendent Nathan Franklin. “These students have excelled in and outside the classroom, achieving high levels of success in multiple areas. I commend our teachers for their continued support and positive influence on these student leaders.”
Anderson Holcomb of Loganville High School plans on attending Emory University to major in neuroscience and behavioral biology. Anderson currently maintains a 4.5/104 GPA and scored 1570 on the SAT. He selected Advanced Placement Language and Composition Teacher Tonya Pohlel as his STAR Teacher because she helped him grow in his English classes which overall helped him on the SAT. He acknowledged that through her class and teaching, he found his love for reading again and honed his writing skills.
“I am honored by this recognition because it means that what we do in my class has a lasting influence on students,” said Tonya Pohlel. “I am particularly honored because I felt so privileged to teach Anderson and I grew as a teacher just from having him in my class.”
Alexis Edwards is a senior at Monroe Area High School who scored 1390 on the SAT and maintains a 4.4 GPA. She plans on majoring in cognitive science at McGill University. She selected Advanced Placement Teacher Nathan Gray as her STAR Teacher because he believed in her and her potential at a time when she did not quite believe in herself. To her, Coach Gray will always be synonymous with an excellent teacher, a sarcastic cynic and an inspiring mentor. She is grateful to have had the opportunity to know him and learn from him.
“To be STAR Teacher means that I’ve had a significant positive impact on a young person’s life,” said Nathan Gray. “That’s part of why I became a teacher in the first place, so it’s immensely gratifying to receive such a recognition.”
Amanda Cowan from Walnut Grove High School plans on majoring in physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She scored 1430 on the SAT and currently holds a 4.172 GPA. She chose Engineering Teacher Chris Wheeler as her STAR Teacher because he helped her discover her passion for science and pushed her to succeed even when she doubted herself.
“It is always meaningful when a student, especially one of Amanda’s quality, expresses their appreciation for your work,” said Chris Wheeler. “Given all the outstanding teachers at Walnut Grove being selected is a humbling experience.”
The Walton County School District serves around 14,000 students in 15 schools including nine elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools. The mission of the Walton County School District is to ensure that each student acquires the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve personal success and enrich the community. The district values students as individuals with unique intellectual, physical, social, and emotional needs. For more information, please visit www.walton.k12.ga.us.