VALDOSTA -- For the second year in a row, Valdosta High School is seeing double with two STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) students -- Ellis Moser and Chris Jordan.
"It's exciting," said Denise Ronn, Valdosta High guidance counselor. "This is the second year we've had the double STARs."
Jordan, the son of William and Brenda Jordan, was excited to discover he had been selected as one of the high school's double STARs. "It's cool," he said.
Jordan, who will attend Georgia Technical Institute in the fall, plans to study mechanical engineering.
"I am not really sure what I want to do with it," he said. "It's just a nice, broad field."
A math whiz, Jordan balances his demanding academic schedule with a variety of school-related activities, including the math team, the academic bowl team, the science club and the band.
"I have been playing the saxophone since the sixth grade," he said.
Outside the academic arena, Jordan said he enjoys reading, working out and participating in youth group activities at Perimeter Road Baptist Church.
Jordan selected Jeane Tarpley, math teacher, as his STAR teacher.
"She's always been there for me since the ninth grade," Jordan said. "She is an active teacher who enjoys teaching. She's great because she is willing to work one on one with a student until that student understands the concept of the day."
Jordan and Tarpley have worked together since the ninth grade when he joined the math team. As a junior and senior, Jordan studied trigonometry and calculus under Tarpley.
This is Tarpley's fourth year being selected as STAR teacher during her 36-year teaching career. She was chosen twice while teaching at West Rome High School in Rome and twice at Valdosta High School, where she has been educating students for the past 28 years.
"Chris is quick and bright," said Tarpley, who was a STAR student herself once. "He is also inventive. He likes to invent new ways of doing things. Chris is the kind of person who can do anything as long as he's willing to work for it. He is truly gifted."
Moser, the son of Gary and Gnann Moser, was equally enthusiastic about being selected as one of Georgia's STARs. A future computer programmer or pilot, Moser will attend Georgia Technical Institute as well in the fall.
When not attending class or studying for the next big test, Moser can be found on the soccer field or hanging out with friends.
Moser selected Tina Strickland, math teacher, as his STAR teacher.
"She made me do more work than anyone else," he said. "I had to work for my grade. She earned my respect as a teacher very quickly."
Moser had Strickland for a geometry teacher during his freshman year.
During her 24 years in the classroom, Strickland has been named STAR teacher three times. The other two times, 1979 and 1980, were while she was a teacher at Lanier County High School in Lakeland. She has been at Valdosta High School for the past 21 years.
"Being selected as a STAR teacher is a great honor for me," she said. "To be recognized by one of my former students is a highlight of my teaching career. To think that I have made a contribution to his life that is worthy of this recognition is a wonderful feeling and a humbling experience. It is truly a privilege to share this accomplishment with him."
Strickland described Moser as a great student who excels in all academic areas.
"I have no doubts that Ellis will be a success in whatever he chooses to do in the future," she said. "Every door is open for him. He must choose the one to enter."
Moser, Strickland, Jordan and Tarpley were honored recently by their local sponsor, the Kiwanis Club of Valdosta, Inc.
The STAR program, now in its 44th year, has honored more than 18,000 students and their teachers. The statewide program is coordinated by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators through its foundation, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Education.
The senior with the highest Scholastic Aptitude Test score, from any administr
ation of the test through the November test date of the student's senior year, and ranked in the top 10 percent or top 10 of his or her class is named STAR student in each of Georgia's accredited public and private high schools.
Moser is ranked No. 1 out of 415 in his class. Jordan is ranked No. 16. Their SAT scores could not be released at this time due to the ongoing competition. A perfect score on the SAT is 1600.
High school students compete for school system titles, and the 15 school system STAR students move up to compete for district honors in 12 STAR districts across the state. Valdosta High School is in District 10, which also includes students from Cook County, Berrien County, Brooks County, Echols County, Clinch County, Lowndes County, and Lanier County schools.
Winners at the district level go to Atlanta on April 29 to vie for the state STAR award.
Last year, Valdosta High School's Sutee Dee and Jennifer Spreng, who had the same SAT score and class ranking, were declared the winners for District 10.
To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.
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