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 (L-R) Mr. Charles Gammel, STAR Teacher; Victoria Wardlow, Alcovy 2014 STAR Student; Eastside teacher Mr. Eric Adams, NCSS STAR Teacher; Kolyse Wagstaff, Eastside and NCSS  STAR Student; Indian Creek Middle Scohol teacher Vicki Meeler, STAR Teacher; Vitaliy Semenikhin, Newton High STAR Student; Mrs. Hillary Edgar, President, Kiwanis Club of Covington.

Newton County School System and the Kiwanis Club of Covington are pleased to announce the 2014 STAR Students and STAR Teachers. The PAGE Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program, now in its 56th year, is sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Education. Since its inception the STAR program has honored more than 24,000 students and the teachers they have selected as having had the most influence on their academic success.

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—800, with two Writing sub-scores for multiple-choice and the essay. In order to be a STAR Student, the student must also be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average.





Alcovy High School’s 2014 STAR Student is Victoria Wardlow. She scored 1960 out of 2400 on the SAT. In addition to her studies, Victoria has been a member of the Latin Club, performed for three years in the Alcovy Band, and has also participated in Drama. During her time at Alcovy, Victoria has taken a several  Advanced Placement (AP) courses, including Latin, Calculus, Macroeconomics, European History, Literature, Language Arts, Environmental Science, and US History. In her spare time, Victoria coaches children in a Christian Basketball program.

Victoria plans on attending the University of Georgia to study Classical Languages and Dramatic Arts. Her career goal is to teach the classics and also become an actress.

Victoria selected Mr. Charles Gammel, former Alcovy High School Latin teacher, as her STAR Teacher. Mr. Gammel now teaches at the Scholars Academy of Thomasville City Schools. This is Mr. Gammel’s first time being selected as a STAR Teacher.

Victoria stated, “He’s my favorite teacher that I’ve ever had. He’s the reason I like Latin so much. He pushed me to try even harder.”




Newton High School’s 2014 STAR Student is Vitaliy Semenikhin. He scored 1880 out of 2400 on his SAT. He has taken numerous AP classes, including: World History, Psychology, US History, English Language Composition, Chemistry, Literature, Macroeconomics, Calculus, and Physics. Vitaliy is enrolled in the elite Academy of Liberal Arts at Newton High School and during his time at Newton High has been a member of the National Honor Society, the community service club Newton Interact, and the FFA. In his spare time he said he likes doing “typical nerdy stuff” like building model rockets, working on his car, and wood working.

Vitaliy is attending Georgia Tech where he plans to major in aerospace engineering. His career goal is to eventually own his own business and he already has dozens of ideas he is considering. Vitaliy chose Ms. Vicki Meeler, a science teacher at Indian Creek Middle School as his STAR Teacher. This is the first time Ms. Meeler has been selected as a STAR Teacher.

“She is one of two teachers who really inspired me and instilled in me a passion for science that no other teachers have done,” said Vitaliy. “She set me on a path for science.”





Eastside High School’s STAR Student, Kolyse Wagstaff, is also Newton County School System’s STAR Student as she had the highest SAT score in the district. Kolyse scored an amazing 2100 out of 2400 on the SAT. During her time at Eastside High Kolyse has taken six AP courses, including: Calculus, Latin, US History, English Language and Composition, English Literature, and Economics. She is a member of the Junior Classical League, Beta Club, and the National Honor Society and has played both tennis and volleyball for Eastside. During her spare time she enjoys playing softball with the church league.

Kolyse has narrowed her college choices down to two—Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State University. She plans on majoring in nursing as her career goal is to become a nurse practitioner. Kolyse selected her Latin teacher, Mr. Eric Adams, as her STAR Teacher. As such, Mr. Adams is Newton County School System’s 2014 STAR Teacher. This is Mr. Adams’ ninth time being selected by a student as the STAR Teacher.

According to Kolyse, “Mr. Adams does anything for his students to make them successful. He goes way above and beyond what he gets paid for to help us succeed.”

“Congratulations to our STAR students and teachers; we are very proud them,” said Samantha Fuhrey, Superintendent of Newton County Schools. “Satisfying the requirements to be identified as a STAR student is no small task!  Thank you to the families who support our students and teachers in all that they do-the support they receive is integral to the success of both. The hard work and dedication of our students and their selected teachers is instrumental to their identification as STAR students and teachers! We wish them continued success in the future.”

 “The Kiwanis Club of Covington is pleased to recognize the STAR students and teachers,” said Hillary Edgar, President of the Kiwanis Club of Covington. “Our Club is focused on helping the children of our community.  For our Club, it is a privilege and a wonderful tradition to get to celebrate some of the best and brightest students and educators our school system has to offer.”

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