Four students from schools in Leflore and Carroll counties achieved the honor of STAR Student for the 2018-19 school year. STAR Students are selected on the basis of academic excellence. Both American College Test scores and scholastic averages are compared to determine the school’s STAR Student.
The STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition) Program is sponsored by the Mississippi Economic Council and its M.B. Swayze Educational Foundation.
After receiving the honor, each STAR Student is asked to designate a teacher who has made the largest impact on his or her scholastic success to be named STAR Teacher.
The students and teachers recently attended the Mississippi Economic Council’s 2019 Education Celebration at the Jackson Convention Center.
This year’s local STARs are:
Conner Blue Hutson • Pillow Academy
Conner Blue Hutson is the son of Gina and Mark Hutson of Greenwood. The 18-year-old selected Marietta Branch as the STAR Teacher. Hutson, who recently graduated from Pillow Academy, earned a 4.57 grade point average and scored a 35 on the ACT. Here’s some more information about Pillow Academy’s STAR Student:
Academic honors and awards: National High School Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Mississippi Boys State attendee, Mississippi Governor’s School attendee, Freshman Academic Excellence Scholarship, Colvard Future Leader Scholarship, STAR Student Scholarship, Eagle Scout Scholarship, Boykin Leadership Award, Grillot Scholarship and Boys State Scholarship.
Extracurricular activities: Quiz Bowl captain, Mississippi Model Security Council and Boy Scouts of America.
Community service/involvement: Mission trip to the Dominican Republic with First Presbyterian Church, several Eagle Scout projects with Boy Scout Troop 4200, including making a video for the Greenwood Convention and Visitors Bureau Board.
Interests/hobbies: Video games, computers, traveling, pets and reading nonfiction.
What college will you be attending in the fall? Mississippi State University.
What do you plan to major in? Physics and astronomy with a pre-med concentration.
What are your career goals? “My main focus is getting my degree and going from there. I chose to major in physics, because of the flexibility of the degree and chose to concentrate in pre-medicine in case I make the decision to continue my education after my undergraduate years.”
Why did you select Branch as STAR Teacher? “She has been a major part in strengthening my love for science and has been an incredibly valuable mentor and guide.”
What will you miss most about high school? “The unwavering love that many of my teachers have for their students.”
What advice would you give to incoming freshmen about achieving success in high school? “Don’t be afraid to be yourself. You can’t be successful if you try to be someone you aren’t. And if someone doesn’t like you, so what? You can’t please everyone.”
Perion Quintarrius Jones • Amanda Elzy High School
Perion Quintarrius Jones is the son of Tesonya and Perry Jones of Sidon. The 18-year-old Amanda Elzy High School graduate selected Robert Moore as the STAR Teacher. Jones earned a 3.9 grade point average and scored a 27 on the ACT. Here’s some more information about Amanda Elzy High School’s STAR Student:
Academic honors and awards: Delta Honors Graduate, 21 Club, Valedictorian, Dean Scholarship, Valedictorian Scholarship, Mississippi Scholars and STAR Student.
Extracurricular activities: Student Government, AEHS Ambassador, Future Business Leaders of America, Young Emerging Leaders of Leflore, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy and the University of Mississippi MOST Program.
Community service/involvement: Hosted a Christmas special for Gilliam Head Start through the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy, recycled trash in neighborhoods through the Student Government and donated two Angel Tree gifts to The Salvation Army.
Sports: A member of the football team in ninth through 11th grades.
Interests/hobbies: Video games, TV and sports.
What college will you be attending in the fall? The University of Memphis.
What do you plan to major in? Biology.
What are your career goals? “My career goal is to become a top-performing neurosurgeon.”
Why did you select Moore as STAR Teacher? “I chose Mr. Moore as my STAR teacher because he showed me the potential that I possess. He taught me that I can always be better than I was and to never become lax in my work.”
What will you miss most about high school? “I will miss my classmates the most as I have grown up with them most of my life, and we have had many experiences.”
What advice would you give to incoming freshmen about achieving success in high school? “The only advice that I have to give is to make sure your work is done to the best of your abilities, and only then will you enjoy the fun that comes after.”
Shakevia Purnell • Greenwood High School
Shakevia Purnell is the daughter of Maria Purnell of Greenwood and the step-daughter of Robert Williams of Greenwood. The 17-year-old recent Greenwood High School graduate selected Nancy Kent as the STAR Teacher. Purnell earned a 4.3 grade point average and scored a 25 on the ACT. Here’s some more information about Greenwood High School’s STAR Student:
Academic honors and awards: Superintendent’s List, Principal’s List and received more than $300,000 in scholarship offers from various colleges.
Extracurricular activities: National Beta Club, 4-H Leadership PRIDE, National Honors Society and Mu Alpha Theta Math Club.
Community service/involvement: Participated in several community service activities through 4-H.
Interests/hobbies: Learning new things that encourage personal growth.
What college will you be attending in the fall? Mississippi University for Women in Columbus.
What do you plan to major in? Nursing with a minor in philosophy.
What are your career goals? “I want to become a certified nurse anesthetist and practice my study in a hospital setting.”
Why did you select Kent as STAR Teacher? “I chose Mrs. Kent because I felt as if she embedded the most inspiration in me out of all of my teachers.”
What will you miss most about high school? “I will miss my classmates. I have not really had a bond with them throughout my high school years, but over the last few months, I have grown to love them.”
What advice would you give to incoming freshmen about achieving success in high school? “You should always go to class, do your work and don’t play around your first three years then have to make it up your senior year! Enjoy!”
Michael Athan Shute • J.Z. George High School
Michael Athan Shute is the son of Eddie and Tasha Shute of Carrollton. The 17-year-old, a recent graduate of J.Z. George High School, selected Dr. Judy Henson as the STAR Teacher. Shute earned a 3.8 grade point average and scored a 27 on the ACT. Here’s some more information about J.Z. George High School’s STAR Student:
Academic honors and awards: The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Award, Academic Merit Scholarship, STAR Student Scholarship, Delta Honors, 1848 Scholarship and Valedictorian — “It’s been a friendly race between me and Jakayla Phillips since middle school.”
Extracurricular activities: Beta Club, construction and 4-H.
Community service/involvement: Member of Hillview Baptist Church, participated in mission work in Chicago for the last three years and going back this summer, and participates in church league softball.
Sports: A member of the baseball team for four years and played on the football and track teams each for one year.
What college will you be attending in the fall? The University of Mississippi.
What do you plan to major in? Homeland security.
What are your career goals? To be a criminal profiler for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Why did you select Henson as STAR Teacher? “She’s been teaching me since ninth grade, and she’s always there to help, whether it’s school work, scholarships or giving me recommendations.”
What will you miss most about high school? “Will Rodgers. ... I think the best times I had in high school would be in Coach Rodgers’ class, because he always made people laugh. He wasn’t just a teacher who was serious all the time. He taught and had fun with it. And I’ll miss playing baseball.”
What advice would you give to incoming freshmen about achieving success in high school? “Study and work hard.”