Banks County High School and the Banks County Chamber CVB Inc. announced the recipients of this year's prestigious STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) awards. Alex Anderson, a Banks County High School (BCHS) senior, was named the STAR Student. Dr. Jody Boutier was honored as the STAR Teacher.
The STAR program, which celebrates the highest-achieving students and their most influential teachers, requires nominees to have the highest SAT score in their school on a single test date through November of their senior year and to be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average.
Dr. Boutier described Anderson as a student whose personality and drive for excellence set them apart.
"Alex's personality stands out distinctively. Ready to assume additional responsibilities and embrace challenges, Alex demonstrated a willingness to participate in productions - assisting the technical crew and joining the cast - all amidst managing demanding academic and band performance schedules. Alex's forthright nature, inner drive, and self-awareness earn deep appreciation and admiration. To be named the Star Teacher for Alex is truly an honor," said Boutier.
Being recognized as the 2023-2024 Banks County High School's STAR Student is an "incredible honor" that validates hard work and dedication for Alex. Alex credits success to the supportive environment at BCHS, especially the opportunities provided through the dual-enrollment program and the guidance of teachers and mentors.
Anderson's choice of the Georgia Institute of Technology shows ambition and a wish to be in a place that supports STEM and fine arts interests.
"One of the reasons I chose this school specifically is because it has great labs, paid internship opportunities, and active researchers as professors. Another reason is that despite being a STEM school, it has active and supportive fine arts programs that help keep students involved in their hobbies," stated Anderson, who will be majoring in chemistry.
"I chose Chemistry because I have been interested in it my whole life. It started as loving the small 'chemistry kits' you could buy out of the toy section of Walmart. As I got older, I started listening to video essays about discoveries and hoaxes in the field, "added Anderson.
"I chose Dr. Boutier as my STAR teacher because she lets her students' creativity grow. While I did not have her for literature, I had her as a theater teacher for the past two years. She knows how to push her students to their full potential while giving them a break whenever needed. She is a great teacher, one of the best I ever had."
Alex also gives credit to another teacher, Ms. Demaris Holt.
"I had her for Honors American Literature, and it was the first time I had struggled in a class. She pushed me to improve my writing, and I still use the notes from that class three years later."
Alex will graduate on May 24th but leaves some advice to future seniors.
"Take the SAT early and Dual-Enroll as much as possible. Even if taking the SAT the first time is just the PSAT, taking it will give you a baseline. You can connect your Collegeboard (the company that administers the test) account to Khan Academy, and they will give you free and unlimited personalized SAT prep. Also, dual enrollment will get the easier, lecture-sized classes out of the way while simultaneously getting high school credit for free. It helps get the simple things out of the way before you get to college so you can focus on what you want to learn when paying for school".
Alex also encourages high schoolers to take some time to enjoy high school.
"One of my favorite experiences in high school was my final marching band competition my sophomore year. It was my first season, and we had not placed well in any other competition, but we won first place in everything. I remember everyone being so excited that we could not stop screaming, and we blasted music on the bus until we got to our hotel. Seeing the success of all of the band's hard work made me love it even more".
STAR student is sponsored by the Banks County Chamber CVB Inc. and given out yearly to a high school senior. Alex will be awarded a scholarship at the Senior Celebration Night in May.