Principal Derrell Jeffcoat of Spalding High School introduced his school’s STAR student, Ivey Chestnut. He described her academic achievements, her activity in her church and her travels before focusing on her character.
“I’ve never seen her when she did not exhibit the grace and character expected in a young lady,” he said.
Chestnut thanked the club, her school and her parents. She said she had many great teachers and a few excellent ones. None of them, however, compared to her STAR teacher, Dee Joiner.
Joiner is Chestnut’s aunt and was her eighth-grade Algebra I teacher. She said she had to be sure she did not favor Chestnut, and, in hindsight, was actually harder on her than other students. She said she intended to challenge her niece but instead Chestnut challenged her.
“When you selected me to share this honor with you, I was moved to tears,” Joiner said, emotion creeping into her voice.
Next came Principal Janet Ware of Griffin High School, who introduced STAR student Jamie Jordan, who she said wants to be president of the United States.
Jordan thanked the Kiwanis Club and his parents and teachers for “putting up with me all of these years.” In an emotional moment, he singled out his great-grandfather for particular praise. After describing his own achievements and plans and crediting those who have helped him, he called forward his own STAR teacher, Richard Beaton.
“I learned more in that one year than in any year before,” Jordan said.
Beaton, a retired Latin teacher, quoted the Roman poet Juvenal, saying virtue is the sole source of nobility. He said the ancients believed seven was a mystical number and he had six great achievements, serving as STAR teacher for two earlier students and raising two talented daughters. When Jordan asked him to be his STAR teacher, this was his seventh achievement and the completion of the circle.
He then praised Jordan’s parents for their dedication over the years.
“Look at the end result,” Beaton said, listing Jordan’s good qualities.
He said Jordan has a definite goal — being president — unlike many young people who “maybe” want to be a doctor or lawyer. He then offered to serve as a member of Jordan’s Cabinet.
Tonya Nelms of Griffin Christian High School introduced that school’s STAR student, Elizabeth Palmieri.
“When I grow up, I want to be a copy editor,” Palmieri said.
She said that is the perfect job for her — she loves reading, writing and being right. She then introduced Tangi Hobgood, her STAR teacher.
“She makes verb tenses and comma placement interesting,” Palmieri said.
Hobgood said Palmieri possesses intelligence beyond her years, sings opera, plays the flute and writes comics. She has even memorized the introductory monologue of the titular character of the graphic novel “V for Vendetta” — in which almost every one of the character’s words begin with “v” — while knowing the meaning of every word. She said Palmieri excelled during the preparations for the verbal portion of the SAT.
“It is an honor to know you, Elizabeth,” she said.