The 2022 Effingham County Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) ceremony took place March 3 at Effingham College & Career Academy.
This annual event, hosted locally by the Rotary Club of Effingham County, is part of the statewide STAR program administered by PAGE, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. Since its creation in 1958, the STAR program has honored nearly 28,500 students and the teachers selected as the most influential to their academic achievement.
To obtain the 2022 STAR nomination, 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.
Karen Ji was recognized as the STAR student from South Effingham High School this year. She is enrolled in the STEM program at Effingham College & Career Academy (ECCA) where she takes a rigorous, accelerated, and condensed curriculum of honors and Advanced Placement courses with an emphasis in Spanish. At present, Ji has a 4.0 unweighted grade point average and ranks first in her class of 376 students. She is an active member in several clubs, and has competed and placed in state-wide events, including winning first place in “Disease Detectives” (2019) and “Wright Stuff” (2020) events at the Georgia State University Science Olympiad competition and winning second place in the State-wide Geospatial Data Analysis (GIS) competition.
At the HOSA State Leadership Conference in January, Ji won first place for “Epidemiology. She attended the Governor’s Honors Program in the area of Physics this past summer where she built a functional solar tracker. She is currently a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship competition and the Georgia Tech Stamps President’s Scholar Program.
Ji chose ECCA English teacher Erin Wright as her STAR teacher. This is Wright’s 28th year teaching English. She attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Georgia Southwestern State University, Americus; and Master’s International School of Divinity, Evansville, Indiana. She has a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and is AP Literature, AP Language, IB, and Gifted Certified. Her favorite courses in college were creative writing, public speaking, theology, and psychology.
Ethan Sterkeson was recognized as the STAR student from Effingham County High School and STAR student system winner this year. He is enrolled in the STEM program at Effingham College & Career Academy (ECCA) where he takes a rigorous, accelerated, and condensed curriculum of honors and Advanced Placement courses with an emphasis in Computer Science and Spanish. He has a 4.0 unweighted grade point average and ranks seventh in his class of 383 students. He has been recognized as having the highest GPA in Health, Personal Fitness, Geometry, and Algebra 2. He was also recognized for his stellar performance in Biology. This past summer, he attended the Governor’s Honors Program for Spanish. He is currently a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship competition.
Sterkeson chose ECCA mathematics teacher Sara Huntley as his STAR teacher. Huntley has her Bachelors, Masters and Specialist degrees from Georgia Southern University; her Gifted Endorsement; and is certified in AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, and AP Statistics. Huntley currently teaches AP Calculus AB, Calculus, Accelerated Pre-Calculus and SAT Prep.
As STAR system winners, Sterkeson and Huntley, will advance to the Region 8 competition at at Georgia Southern University on Wednesday,