VALDOSTA, GA – This was an exceptional year for the Valdosta High School STAR student program. Two outstanding students, Aneesha Chowdhary daughter of Dr. Prem Kumar and Dr. Lilam Seth of Valdosta, and Samantha McLendon daughter of Bill and Robin McLendon of Valdosta have been nominated as the honored recipients for 2013-14.
Each year, the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program nominates Georgia high school senior students who receive the highest scores on a three-part SAT in one sitting and who must be in the top 10% of their class. The Kiwanis Club of Valdosta is the STAR sponsor.
In between tennis practice and dance rehearsal, Chowdhary studied months in advance for the SAT’s with a College Board practice book. “I made sure to finish preparing a week before the actual test so that I could relax and eliminate stress,” informs Chowdhary.
First State Bank Student Advisory Board member, Varsity girls’ tennis Captain, VHS Yearbook Editor, and dedicated dancer (at Dance Arts); Chowdhary made balancing her extra-curricular activities and content-rich course load appear effortless. According to Mrs. Narci Drossos, “Aneesha is world-aware, well-traveled, open-minded, goal oriented, and challenge-seeking.”
Mrs. Drossos, an IB English, ESOL and British Literature teacher for twenty-four years was chosen by Chowdhary as her STAR teacher for having made the most significant contribution to the STAR student’s scholastic development. Drossos taught Chowdhary English and Journalism during her sophomore and junior years and has worked with her on the year book staff. “Her outgoing personality turned her classes into the perfect balance of fun and learning. She helped me improve my writing skills tremendously by teaching me the importance of active voice and powerful verbs and adjectives,” mentions Chowdhary.
In preparation for the numerous amount of tests high school students must take, such as ACT’s, SAT’s, and EOCT’s, Drossos challenges students to read, reflect, and write in the hopes that these skills will also apply to all aspects of life, including personal growth.
Over the years, Chowdhary and Drossos have shared many memorable moments together; building the yearbook, writing literary essays and sports articles for In the Game magazine, experiencing adventures on the Journalism squad, discussing IB works, laughing at life, and even practicing yoga. “However, when I go to college, I will miss most running into her at the yoga studio that we both attend on weekends,” Chowdhary reminisces.
Chowdhary is a National Merit Finalist and will attend Emory University in Atlanta. She is unsure about her major, but she is leaning towards Biology or Journalism/English. “I want to get involved with an Emory newspaper or magazine, the Volunteer Emory organization, and Outdoor Emory, a club that promotes staying active in nature and keeping the environment as clean as possible,” she says. Chowdhary also plans to continue dancing and desires to pursue photography.
“Aneesha is so polished, focused, and organized – I don’t think she needs my advice, but I would definitely tell her to be herself and stay in touch. I can’t wait to see her brilliant future unfold,” Drossos says of advising Chowdhary before college.
President of the BETA club and Varsity soccer player Samantha McLendon studied the Princeton Review SAT prep book extensively before taking the SAT test. Outside of her studies she enjoys long boarding, playing the guitar and piano, and scuba diving and skiing whenever she can.
According to Mrs. Holly Stone, no challenge is too difficult, and no assignment is too trivial for McLendon. “Samantha, while being extremely bright and talented is also very well-rounded. From the minute she entered high school she has been tremendously involved in all aspects of student life; from her academia to creating floats for Homecoming. Samantha is also very generous with regards to her classmates – she is very supportive of her peers and has often mentored her classmates,” says Stone.
Mrs. Holly Stone, an AP Government and IB Psychology teacher of eighteen years was honored as McLendon’s STAR teacher. In preparation for the AP exam and SAT’s, Mrs. Stone uses six different AP Government prep books, FRQ’s, practice test questions, and extensive outside readings such as research studies or primary documents. During her reviews, Mrs. Stone takes a very hands-on approach and spends one weekend day, closest to the testing date, from 8-3p.m.
Mrs. Stone and McLendon have shared many memorable moments together during the three years in which Mrs. Stone has had the pleasure of educating McLendon. “I enjoyed the discussions about topics that helped reinforce the information we learned during note taking which made the class more interesting. Mrs. Stone really cares about all her students-I will miss that along with her sense of humor, cool topics and discussions,” McLendon says with enthusiasm.
McLendon will be remembered for her many academic achievements but also for her ability to get her class in an upbeat mood by singing a variety of songs like, Don’t Stop Believin’, her wild homecoming outfits and her excitement after her acceptance into Duke University. “Her reaction to getting into Duke University was the best memory especially after watching her strive for three years to attain such a goal,” Mrs. Stone recalls.
In the fall, McLendon will attend Duke University. She is unsure about her major, but she is considering Environmental Science or Biology. However, she is really interested in Psychology and Neuroscience as well. “My advice to Samantha is to keep that same drive, determination and enthusiasm that she has and use them in all aspects of her life, be it college, family, travel or her career,” informs Mrs. Stone.
High school STAR students compete for system titles; and system STAR students in turn compete for region honors in the 12 STAR Regions. Region winners and their STAR teachers are invited to Atlanta to compete for the state STAR scholarships and awards. Finally, region winners are interviewed, and the runner-up and State PAGE STAR student and STAR teacher are announced.
Source: Valdosta City Schools Press Relese