Phone: (770) 787-1330 Fax: (770) 784-2950 Email:


February 18, 2016

(L-R): Ms. Patsy Mitchell, president Kiwanis Club of Covington; Baylee Friedman, Alcovy STAR Student; Mr. Edward Kim, Alcovy STAR Teacher; Jackson Hall, Eastside & NCSS STAR Student; Mr. Michael Poor, Eastside & NCSS STAR Teacher; Christopher Lightsey, Newton STAR Student; CWO Ralwey Colemon, Newton STAR Teacher; Mrs. Samantha Fuhrey, NCSS Superintendent.

Newton County School System and the Kiwanis Club of Covington are pleased to announce the 2016 STAR Students and STAR Teachers. In order to obtain the STAR nomination, high school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the three-part SAT.  The SAT is a national college entrance exam some colleges and universities utilize to measure critical thinking skills students need for academic success in college. The SAT assesses how well students analyze and solve problems. It is typically taken by high school juniors and seniors. Each section of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200 to 800, with two writing sub-scores for multiple-choice and the essay. In order to qualify for STAR Student, the student must also be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average.

“The Kiwanis Club of Covington is thrilled to again sponsor this year’s STAR students,” said Patsy Mitchell, President of the Kiwanis Club of Covington. “These students are exemplary for a number of reasons and we celebrate them all.  They are the next leaders in their school, their discipline, their industry, and their community.  We are proud of each them.  And we thank them - they excite us about the future because it is bright with these students.”

Newton County School System’s three high school STAR Students and STAR Teachers are:


(L-R): Alcovy High School principal, Dr. Sandra Owens; Baylee Friedman; and Mr. Edward Kim.

Baylee Friedman is Alcovy High School’s 2016 STAR Student.  She scored a very impressive 2030 out of 2400 on the SAT. In addition to her studies, Baylee has participated in numerous extra-curricular activities at Alcovy High School, including Gifted Girls and the Reading Bowl. She has also worked on the school newspaper staff and served as vice-president of the National Honor Society, secretary of the Key Club, and class president in her freshman, sophomore, and junior years. This year she is Alcovy High School’s Student Body president. During her time at Alcovy, Baylee has taken several Advanced Placement (AP) courses, including: World History, Language Composition, Government, U.S. History, Calculus, Biology, European History, Macroeconomics, Literature, and Latin.

Baylee has been accepted to attend Georgia Tech, where she plans on majoring in international affairs with a minor most likely in Russian with a pre-law track. Her dream is to attend law school at Georgetown University and ultimately become an international human rights lawyer.

Baylee selected her AP English Language and Composition teacher, Mr. Edward Kim, as her STAR Teacher. This is Mr. Kim’s first time being selected as a STAR Teacher.

When asked why she selected Mr. Kim, Baylee stated, “I had his class for AP Language and he’s also my journalism teacher this year, but the AP Language was the most rigorous class I’ve ever taken. I feel like, more than any other teacher, he has prepared me for college. I know college is going to be hard but I feel like I’ve really gotten a taste of that in his class. And then, on the other hand, he’s also just been a great support system for me, too. He’s also the National Honor Society sponsor so I see him a lot in and out of the classroom. He’s just someone that I can always go to talk to if I have school-related problems or personal problems. He’s just the best.”

According to Mr. Kim, Baylee is the sort of student every teacher hopes to have in their class and he was surprised and most definitely honored to be selected her STAR Teacher.  

“I really don’t know what to say about being Baylee's STAR Teacher,” he said. “I remember when I first found out I thought it was a mistake! Why would she pick me? Baylee is the kind of person that is going to do great things no matter what or no matter who her teachers are. I am honored to have played a small part in her success story now and for the future. She is truly one-of-a-kind.”

“Teachers will teach about 3,000 kids over their career,” he added. “Most of them will go their whole careers hoping to teach a student that is as driven, smart, kind, and most importantly a genuinely good person like Baylee; but sadly many will not get that chance because students like Baylee do not come around often. I consider myself lucky to have gotten to teach a student who I know is going to do great things with her life, but more importantly is a great person. There are a lot of smart and talented students all over the world and Baylee, as her test scores and academic achievements undoubtedly show, is one of them. But what this world is in short supply of today are people who are not only smart and talented but are also humble and want to help others. I will consider myself a lucky teacher from here on if I get to teach another student who is half the student and young lady that Baylee is today.”


(L-R): Newton High School principal John Ellenberg; Christopher Lightsey; and CWO Rawley Colemon.

Christopher Lightsey is Newton High School’s 2016 STAR Student.  He scored an excellent 2040 out of 2400 on the SAT. While at Newton High School, Christopher has taken AP World History and AP U.S. History as well as numerous Quest (gifted program) classes. Although many of his classmates at Newton High School are anxiously preparing themselves for the major transition to college, that’s not a worry for Christopher. He’s already taking college classes and earning college credits. Last year he was enrolled in the Dual Enrollment Program at Georgia Perimeter College, now Georgia State University. This year he is participating in the Move on When Ready program at Georgia State University’s Newton campus. By the time he graduates from Newton High School in May, Christopher will already have earned 40 hours of college credit.

Christopher has been accepted to attend the University of Georgia, where he plans on majoring in computer engineering. Although he has selected his major, he is going to take his time to determine his career goals and ambitions.

Throughout his freshman, sophomore, and junior years, Christopher enjoyed participating in Newton High School’s Marine Corps Junior ROTC program.  He even served as rifle team captain last year, so it’s fitting that Christopher selected Chief Warrant Officer Rawley Colemon as his STAR Teacher. This is the first time Mr. Colemon has been selected as a STAR Teacher.

When asked why he chose Chief Warrant Officer Colemon, Christopher explained, “He knows me better than any teacher I’ve ever had and I learned a lot from him in ROTC. He’s a great instructor and he has had the most impact on my character and my growth in ROTC.”

Upon learning that he had been selected as Christopher’s STAR Teacher, Chief Warrant Officer Colemon responded, “I am speechless and humbled that of all the teachers Christopher Lightsey could have selected, he chose me. I had the privilege to teach and interact with him daily during the years he was enrolled in the MCJROTC program. As a result, I have much respect for this young man and his parents. Christopher is smart, sincere, courteous, mild-mannered and of few words, which makes a quote by Plato very fitting—‘Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.’” 


(L-R): Eastside High School principal Jeff Cher; Jackson Hall; and Mr. Michael Poor.

Jackson Hall is not only Eastside High School’s 2016 STAR Student, he is also Newton County School System’s 2016 STAR Student, as he had the highest SAT score in the district. Jackson scored an incredible 2240 out of 2400 on his SAT. He has taken numerous AP classes during his time at Eastside High School, including: World History, U.S. History, Language and Composition, Latin, European History, Calculus, Chemistry, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, and Literature. During his time at Eastside High School he has also played tennis, participated in the Junior Classical League, and is a member of the Eastside High School academic team. He also created the very popular, Ultimate Frisbee Club.

Jackson has been accepted to attend Georgia Tech, where he plans on majoring in Industrial Engineering with a possible minor in education. He’s narrowed his career goals down to either becoming an Industrial Engineer or teaching math at the high school or collegiate level. Once he determines his career goal he plans on staying in college to pursue his master’s degree in that field.

Jackson chose Eastside High School math teacher, Mr. Michael Poor, as his STAR Teacher. This is Mr. Poor’s first time being selected as a STAR Teacher.

When asked why he chose Mr. Poor, Jackson said, “He has pretty much explained math the best I’ve ever come across. Some teachers, maybe more so in middle school, when you press them on the whys behind formulas, they don’t know what they are talking about, but he can immediately tell you where it comes from. He knows enough math to where the stuff he’s teaching me is basic so if I want to go any further into what he’s talking about, he always knows the answer to everything. He’s given me a very solid math base.”

“It is an honor and a privilege to have been selected as STAR teacher by Jackson,” said Mr. Poor. “Too many times in the field of education we as teachers do not know or never see the impact we have on students or their appreciation of our service. So for me, this recognition stands out as an acme in my career.” 

He added, “I have had the honor of knowing Jackson for the past three years. I taught him as a sophomore and now as a senior. He is one of a handful of students in Newton County taking AP Calculus BC. He is truly a gifted mathematics student. In fact, his mathematical prowess and ability far surpasses that of my own when I was a high school student. Despite his mathematical abilities, this is not what makes Jackson such a rare and unique talent. Jackson truly has a gifted mind. We not only talk about mathematics occurring in my classroom but we have also discussed art, various genres of literature, modern scientific news, and mathematics beyond the scope of most high school students, such as the Banach-Tarski Paradox. It is truly refreshing to encounter a student like Jackson. I find myself having been given the fortuitous opportunity to have been in the presence of such a young and nimble mind for three years. I have no doubt that Jackson will go on to do extraordinary things, and I will be able to say: ‘I knew him when ....’” 

“These STAR students are indicative of the high-quality, high-caliber students we have in Newton County,” said Shannon Buff, NCSS Director of Secondary Education. “They prove that our students can compete on not only the national but global levels. Newton County students are capable of amazing achievement and Baylee, Christopher, and Jackson have set this year’s mark in the area of the SAT. We commend them for staying the course and demonstrating what one can accomplish through hard work and discipline. In addition, we thank the parents, teachers, and leaders who have supported these students through the years.”

The PAGE Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program, now in its 58th year, is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation. Since its inception, the STAR program has honored more than 25,500 students and the teachers they have selected as having had the most influence on their academic success.

For more information, contact Ms. Sherri Davis-Viniard, Director of Public Relations for Newton County Schools, at or by phone at 770-784-2908.