From a pool of seven candidates, Bennett Garland, an Armuchee High School senior, and Rome High School senior Juhi Varshney were named STAR Students for their school systems. Their STAR teachers were Armuchee teacher Emily Mowery and Mary Holcomb, a Rome High teacher.
STAR Students are high school seniors who achieve the highest score in one sitting on the three-part SAT taken through the November test dates.
STAR Students select their STAR teacher based on the teacher who was most influential and instrumental to their academic success throughout their entire school career.
Garland chose Mowery who teaches him Advanced Placement literature and Language Arts, and Mowery said Garland was more than a pleasure to have in the classroom the three years she taught him. “It’s a rare opportunity for a teacher to work with a student as impressive as Bennett,” she said. “He distinguishes himself in history as well as literature and everything, and brings that to our discussions in the classroom.”
As an example of Garland’s witty intellect, she said “I declare my right to remain silent” was the title of his declaration speech project last year.
“I’ll say that, in this speech, he was so clever in that he used satire effectively to warn his peers about the dangers of becoming an apathetic generation,” Mowery said. “That’s how clever Bennett is; he’s a wonderful student but also a really wonderful person and a good citizen. I can honestly say his character will be his greatest strength, even more than his impressive intellect.”
Garland said he intends to study at Georgia Tech, where he will major in business administration with a concentration in either marketing or Information Technology, and he hopes to run his own business one day.
Varshney said of her STAR teacher, Holcomb, that her brilliance and kindness touches all who are taught by her.
“She is such a role model. She inspires me and all her other students each day with her kindness and wisdom and I’m so honored to have her for AP calculus this year,” she said.
Holcomb said throughout her many years teaching at RHS, she’s taught thousands of brilliant, beautiful and compassionate students who care for their fellow man.
“I’ve never had one student that perfectly embodied all of it, but I have that in Juhi,” she said. “She is amazing; she has a beautiful spirit. She cares for everybody. She single-handedly started an anti-bullying campaign at our school. She started the Bear Club, she started the entire recycling movement. She’s always thinking of how she can improve and serve her fellow man.”
Varshney plans to attend Georgia Tech and pursue a career in medicine.
“I plan to major in biomedical engineering as a premed and then go on to medical school where I can be a physician and continue to touch people’s lives,” she said.
The STAR Student program, which began in 1958, was started by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, said Al Hodge, president and CEO of the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce.