//VHS names 2021 STAR Student and STAR Teacher

VHS names 2021 STAR Student and STAR Teacher

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Dr. Janice Richardson, principal of Valdosta High School, announces that Crystal Wang, daughter of Dong Wang and Cuiyue Chen, is the 2021 STAR student, and she has chosen Cindy Plumly, her IB Biology teacher, as her STAR teacher.

The PAGE Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program, now in its 63rd year, is sponsored, administered, and promoted by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) and the PAGE Foundation. Since its creation, the STAR program has honored over 28,000 students and the teachers they have selected as having had the most influence on their academic achievement. To obtain the 2021 STAR nomination, graduating high school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the SAT and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average.

STAR begins each year in participating high schools throughout Georgia when the STAR Student is named and chooses a STAR Teacher to share in this recognition. The students and their teachers are honored by their schools and receive special recognition in their communities from one of the more than 170 statewide civic organizations and businesses that serve as local sponsors of the STAR program. In Valdosta, the Kiwanis sponsor VHS’s STAR student and teacher at the regional level, where Wang and Plumly compete for region honors. Region Winners compete for the honor of being named State PAGE STAR Student. STAR Teachers continue on with their STAR Students at every level of the program.

Wang, who began her education as a kindergartner at Sallas Mahone Elementary, chose Valdosta High School for its academic programs, specifically the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, following two years at Valdosta Early College Academy. Regarding her stellar SAT score, Wang acknowledges that, “I have a tendency to procrastinate studying for large assessments like this, but I remember getting this spurt of motivation to study A LOT for the December SAT, and I guessed it paid off!.”  She also notes that not only has she thrived academically with the rigorous pace of the IB program, but she stays busy outside of school as well, where she is heavily involved at her dance studio and karate dojo. Wang asserts that although excessive competition can create toxic environments in schools, reflection has taught her a better way to learn: “Personally, as students become more and more competitive inside and outside of school, my current experience with my teachers and classmates has taught me that competition isn’t necessary for one to grow. Rather than pushing myself incessantly toward improved achievement, I’ve learned that I can just simply relax somewhat and thrive in an environment in which everybody supports each other to learn freely, without restriction.”

Accepted to Vassar, Wang aims to pursue a career in law — possibly as a Criminal Prosecutor — and to eventually become a judge. She adds, “I hope to also open up a dance studio in the future, because I love dancing so much and want to share my enthusiasm for it.”

Wang chose Cindy Plumly, her IB Biology teacher of two years, as her STAR teacher.  Plumly, who previously worked in accounting and finance management for 20 years, holds degrees in management and biology education as well as a Master’s of Science from Valdosta State University and is an 18 year veteran teacher at Valdosta High School.  In addition to IB Biology Year One and Year Two, she teaches Honors Anatomy and Physiology. Regarding Plumly, Wang states, “While I’ve only had Mrs. Plumly as my teacher for two years, she has made those two years so rewarding and truly brightened my high school experiences. Her classes are filled with quirky anecdotes and insightful commentaries that truly make you interested in Biology. She often likes to make sarcastic jokes about us, but there are moments when I can see how much she cherishes each one of us. The main reason I chose her, though, was because of the unending amount of effort which she puts into her job. She truly gives everything for all of her students.”

Regarding Wang in the classroom, Plumly says that she exemplifies every aspect of the IB learner profile: inquirer, knowledgeable, thinker, communicator, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-taker, balanced, and reflective. Plumly continues, “I have been impressed with Crystal since the first day that I met her.  She is an extremely soft spoken, gentle person, but I have learned that she is an accomplished concert pianist as well as a black belt!  Her diversity and the ways in which she challenges herself amaze me! I have had the privilege of watching her grow over the last two years and really come into her own.  She is still very quiet, but when she speaks, her classmates listen!  She is focused and driven and gives 100% to everything that she does.  IB is an extremely rigorous program, but Crystal has dedicated herself to its requirements both inside and outside the classroom.” VHS began its IB program during the 2009-2010 school year, and graduated its first IB class in 2011.

In addition to the STAR program, The Professional Association of Georgia Educators honors outstanding students and educators with scholarships, and encourages academic excellence through competitive programs such as PAGE STAR, the PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades, and the PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon.