FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — When visitors enter the main lobby at Forsyth Central High School, the oldest high school in the county, the names of the STARS award recipients are prominently displayed. STARS stands for Students Taking Academic Responsibility Seriously.
“If I don’t get their names up there quick enough, they let me know,” said Evelyn Petersen, a counselor at Central.
For the 12th year, Forsyth Central High School’s entire student body was invited to continue a tradition of praising those who scored 1,100 or higher on their SATs and 24 or higher on their ACTs.
Surrounded by their peers, parents and school district leaders, about 100 students were honored at the school’s gymnasium.
“It is a special moment,” said Kristin Morrissey, a Forsyth County Board of Education member. “Not only do they reward the kids, but they do it in front of their classmates, and that inspires them.”
L. C. “Buster” Evans, superintendent of Forsyth County Schools, said the students recognized have made tough choices, including sometimes choosing more rigorous coursework.
“One of the things that leads to a higher SAT score and a higher ACT score is a rigorous curriculum,” Evans said. “With the variety and number of advanced placement courses and other courses of high rigor, it does give students an opportunity to achieve their higher levels.
“It’s extremely important to recognize academic achievements, just as we recognize other achievements along the way,” Evans said.
STARS student Chederli Belongilot, who scored the highest SAT in one sitting, was also honored during the ceremony.
Belongilot, who graduates high school in May, will also have completed her first two years of college.
Belongilot chose biology teacher Bill Schuyler as the STARS teacher.
“I’m blessed to have [Schuyler] as a mentor,” Belongilot said.
The school’s “Top Dog” was Lena Nygaard, who scored a 1,580 on her SATs on her second try. She told students, “They could do it, too.”
FCHS Principal Rudy Hampton congratulated the STARS students during the ceremony and encouraged freshmen and sophomores to work hard academically.
“Next year, or the year after, you will be sitting where these students are sitting and you will be getting your recognition,” Hampton said.
After the ceremony, parents and their STARS were invited to a luncheon at the school.
Mother Julie Tressler said her son Harrison will be attending University of Georgia in the fall to study sports marketing.
“He got accepted to UGA in the first round,” Tressler said. “He got a really good education here at Central.”
Beth Haren took pictures of her daughter, Sydney, who scored a 26 on her ACT.
“I was in a comfortable environment, which really helped,” said Sydney, a senior, of how she prepared. “The websites and definitely the big books you can get.”