Six local high school seniors were recognized and honored for their academic achievements and performance on the SAT during a ceremony on Monday, February 5, 2024, at the Houston County Board of Education. STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) is a program managed by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE). It honors Georgia’s highest achieving high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development.
The Houston County STAR program has been an initiative led jointly by the Robins Regional Chamber and Perry Area Chamber of commerce for over 60 years.
April Bragg, President & CEO of the Robins Regional Chamber added, “The ability to support and elevate the success of our public education system and area private schools is something the Chamber takes great pride in. These students represent the future of our local workforce, so an investment into their success is really an investment into the long-term success of the Robins Region.”
Shiva Soundappan from Houston County High School earned the top honor as our System Winner. He will be recognized at the Regional STAR event in Macon next month.
MEET THE 2024 STAR STUDENTS
Honors & Awards: Shiva’s research earned him a finalist spot at the Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair, where he presented his work to scientists from around the world. Shiva was also chosen as one of 36 high school students internationally to attend the Yale Summer Program in Astrophysics. He has also received the 2nd highest score nationally in the Future Business Leaders of America Parliamentary Procedures test, and placed 2nd in the state for his National History Day project. Shiva was also nominated for the US Presidential Scholars Program, reflecting his achievements in his academic pursuits.
Clubs, Organizations & Hobbies: Shiva actively participates in many organizations inside and outside of the school, including Future Business Leaders in America and Young Investors Society, where he serves as president. He also serves as the lead programmer on the Houston County FIRST Robotics Competition Team. Shiva plays Varsity Tennis for Houston County High School, competing at both the #1 and #2 singles spots. In his free time, Shiva enjoys playing the violin, and serves as concertmaster for the Macon Youth Orchestra.
Who or what has motivated you to be your best self? Shiva attributes his motivation to be his best self to the unwavering support and encouragement of his parents. Growing up, they provided him with the opportunity to explore a variety of interests, allowing him to discover and pursue his true passions. Their commitment to fostering a nurturing environment, coupled with the freedom to try different things, instilled in Shiva a profound appreciation for continuous learning and self-discovery. This foundation has fueled his motivation, allowing him to become his best self.
What are you plans after graduation? Shiva has been accepted to the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia, but is still deciding on where to attend college. He plans to major in either Engineering or Computer Science, and plans to pursue a career in these fields after graduating college.SAHAJ PATEL
Northside High School
Honors & Awards: Sahaj is a Governors Honors program state level nominee. Additionally, he is a three-time state level competitor at DECA. He is a presidential scholar nominee for Northside High. Finally, he has a certificate of merit from UGA.
Clubs, Organizations & Hobbies:Sahaj is a tennis captain at Northside High. He is the vice president of finance for DECA. Also, he volunteered for BETA club.
Who or what has motivated you to be your best self? Sahaj attributes his educational success to his mom. She has always prioritized the importance of staying on top of schoolwork. On top of this, she pushes him to become so much more than a scholar inside the classroom.
What are you plans after graduation?Sahaj plans on attending the University of Georgia for his undergraduate degree. Thereafter, he will attend dental school and move forward into his career path.
Honors & Awards: Charlie has been awarded the University of Georgia Certificate of Merit and was a Commended Student for the National Merit Scholarship program. He also earned 5s on 4 AP exams and received the highest average in Honors Precalculus and AP Computer Science.
Clubs, Organizations & Hobbies: Charlie has run cross country for 7 years, is saxophone captain in the Panther Regiment Marching Band, and currently holds the Perry High School pole vault school record. He is also a member of the PHS FBLA and National Honor Society.
Who or what has motivated you to be your best self? Charlie is motivated by his father, Vince Golden, who is the most caring and generous person he knows. Mr. Golden sets an example with his generosity, he always puts the needs of others above his and even donated his kidney to improve the life of a co-worker. Charlie strives to live up to his fathers precedent.
What are you plans after graduation? Charlie has been accepted into the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, and is currently undecided on which college to attend. He is planning to pursue a degree in computer systems engineering
Veterans High School
Honors & Awards: Zoriyah received the UGA Certificate of Merit in 2023. She was also recognized as an AP Scholar with Honor in 2023. In September of 2023, Zoriyah was recognized as an Optimist Student of the Month.
Clubs, Organizations & Hobbies: Zoriyah has been a leader with the Veterans High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes for three years. She has been a member of the Veterans Band and Soccer team for three years. Zoriyah has also been a member of Science National Honor Society and a collaborator with Warhawk Workshop for two years.
Who or what has motivated you to be your best self? Zoriyah is motivated by her parents. Their dedication to their family and their children’s success has always been a source of appreciation and inspiration. Her parents have always encouraged her endeavors and they strive to give her the best opportunities available. Zoriyah’s dedication and perseverance is modeled after those of her parents, and only with their constant guidance has she been able to achieve all that she has.
What are you plans after graduation? Zoriyah plans to study Biochemical Engineering at the University of Georgia. She hopes to achieve a career that involves helping and inspiring others.
Warner Robins High School
Honors & Awards: Taryn was selected to represent Warner Robins High School at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program. She was identified as an AP Scholar with Distinction and recognized by the College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program. She received the University of Georgia Certificate of Merit and was the Warner Robins High School Optimist Club Student of the Month.
Clubs, Organizations & Hobbies: Taryn participated in Varsity Competition and Varsity Football Cheerleading for 4 years, serving as captain of the Competition Cheer Team. She played on the Varsity Soccer team for 4 years and was selected as co-captain. She is a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She is a member of Scouts BSA and has completed her Eagle Scout project.
Who or what has motivated you to be your best self? Taryn’s mom has been the main motivator in her life. Whether it was driving Taryn from one practice to another, helping her with homework, or helping with any stress she experienced, her mom has always pushed her to be the best she can be and helped her to get there.
What are you plans after graduation? After graduating from Warner Robins High School, Taryn will attend Duke University. She will major in mechanical engineering and Spanish.
The Westfeild School
Honors & Awards: Sean is a 2023 NMSQT Commended Student. He has been recognized as a 2023 National Merit Scholar. Sean was also a Georgia Governors Honors Program Nominee in the field of engineering and mathematics and is a semifinalist for mathematics. For his outstanding academic achievement in the study of mathematics and science, Sean has been given the Rensselaer Medal Award. And recognition of his outstanding qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service; He as been named a Future Baron Scholar.
Clubs, Organizations & Hobbies: Sean is very active in school activities. He plays number one singles for Westfield’s Tennis team and runs for both the cross country and track and field team. He is involved in his school’s Beta Club, an academic and service organization, and he is a co-president of the Foreign Language Club.
Who or what has motivated you to be your best self? Sean has always been a perfectionist. From a young age, he’s strived to do everything perfectly. He’d do something over and over again until he was satisfied with the results. In School, this has translated to chasing a one hundred in every class, every test, and every homework. It has given him the work ethic that he needs to be successful. This perfectionism has made almost everything a competition for him. Whether he or anyone else knows it, he competes with his friends, classmates, and teammates. However, when this perfectionist aspect of him burns out, he is motivated by the people who have supported him. He knows that his parents have done so much for him. How hard his mom worked to help he and his brother when their dad was deployed. He feels that to not achieve all that he can would be ungrateful. He doesn’t want to waste what either parent has done for him, even if he knows they will still be proud and happy for him. His strive for excellence is his way of showing his appreciation for both of his parents driving to school, preparing meals, and taking him to practice. But while his parents have played a huge role giving him the tools and opportunities to be successful, he also strives for success for his teachers who invest their time in him, for his coaches who have given him so many skills, and his peers who continue to support him. If forced to condense his motivation into one sentence, he would say “Thanks mom, thanks dad, I hope I made everyone proud.”
What are you plans after graduation? Sean will continue to pursue his education at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he will major in mechanical engineering. He is excited for the numerous opportunities that he will encounter while studying in Atlanta. Sean hopes to one day use his education to give back to his community and help other communities through engineering.
The PAGE Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program honors Georgia’s highest achieving high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development. Since its creation in 1958 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) program has honored nearly 27,500 students, who have in turn chosen their STAR Teachers to share in this recognition. Every accredited high school in Georgia is eligible to participate in this preeminent student/teacher academic recognition.
In the mid-1990s, The Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation was asked by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the State Department of Education to assume responsibility for the oversight, administration, and promotion of the statewide STAR program. The PAGE Foundation, the PAGE Foundation Board of Trustees, the 95,000-plus PAGE members and the PAGE Board of Directors are privileged to continue the tradition of recognizing Georgia’s future leaders and honoring the professional educators who have nurtured these scholars.
To obtain the STAR nomination, high school students must have the highest score on any single test date of the SAT taken through the November test date of their senior year and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average. Nominee’s SAT scores must be equal to or higher than the 2019 national average scores on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math sections of the SAT. High school STAR Students compete for system titles, and System STAR Students, in turn, compete for region-wide honors in the 12 STAR Regions (a listing of the 12 STAR Regions is provided on the last page of the STAR Manual). Region Winners are invited to Atlanta to compete for state PAGE STAR scholarships and awards. High school STAR Students are asked to name their STAR Teachers, who continue with their STAR Students at every level of the program.
Locally, STAR Students and STAR Teachers are honored by their schools and receive special recognition in their communities from one of the more than 172 civic organizations and businesses that serve as local STAR sponsors. Region recognitions are coordinated by Region Chairs, who serve as ambassadors for the state program in the 12 STAR Regions. The State PAGE STAR Banquet, held in Atlanta each year, is a gala affair attended by several hundred STAR supporters, including STAR Students and Teachers (who attend as guests of their local sponsors), their families, civic and business leaders and many Georgia educators.
At the state banquet, the Region Winners and all local winners attending are recognized. Region Winners are interviewed, and the State PAGE STAR Student and STAR Teacher are announced. At the local, regional and state levels, the PAGE STAR program unites educators with the business and civic community to honor academic excellence.