Twenty-five Cobb County students, dressed to the nines, and their chosen teachers were featured as their high school's highest academic achievers from 23 of the Cobb area high schools. In the end, only two were chosen as the county's top winners.
The two students with the highest overall scores were Abhijeeth Ramesh from Walton High School and Sydney Haltom from the Walker School.
The STAR program was created in 1958 to honor academic excellence. School counselors nominate students, who must have the highest score in one sitting on the three-part Scholastic Aptitude Test and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class. Students are then asked to select a teacher who has helped guide and inspire them throughout their school career.
Ramesh chose his sophomore AP English teacher, Kelly Bryan, as his STAR teacher because not only did she help him grasp a fuller understanding of the English language, but she also helped Ramesh outside of the classroom with his future plans.
"She is a very intimidating woman," Ramesh said about Bryan. "More importantly, Ms. Bryan was probably the one teacher that I could go to outside of school and have a discussion about how my life was and how my future was going to be."
Ramesh is still undecided about his college choice, but said he would like to study economics and philosophy - two subjects that he has become passionate about.
The senior says he gives all of the credit for his academic achievements to his community, parents and teachers like Bryan.
"It really all starts with my parents - them pushing me, them driving me, keeping me motivated and making sure I know what to do," Ramesh said. "I give a lot of credit to Walton High School, the administrators and definitely my teachers, like Ms. Kelly Bryan, because they truly are the ones who make me the student that I am."
Haltom said the conversations she has had with teachers and students have helped inspire her to achieve as a student.
"Discussing interesting things with interesting people, that's why I'm going to college where I am," Haltom said.
The senior plans to attend Middlebury College, a liberal arts school in Vermont. Although she said she hasn't decided on a major, she is thinking of either international studies or a foreign language.
"My family, of course," Haltom said of the reason for her scholastic success. "And I've had incredible luck with the group of teachers I've had. They press me a little, but they also make me want to be resoundingly awesome as a person," Haltom said.
Haltom got the crowd laughing early on in the night when she introduced her Latin teacher Randy Fields, saying that she has always enjoyed Fields' class because the discussions they have in the class are "pretty comically incredible."
Both Haltom and Ramesh will be competing in the regional competition on March 17 at Windermere Golf Club in Cumming. The winner of that competition will advance to the state level in April.