Westminster Schools of Augusta senior Robert MacDonnell was "pleasantly surprised" to be named Richmond County's STAR student of the year Monday and will vie tonight on the regional level.
MacDonnell was dubbed the county's overall top student among 14 STAR students, all of whom received recognition along with their teachers Monday at an Augusta Kiwanis Club meeting at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
"It's a great honor," MacDonnell said, noting the help he received from his STAR teacher, Randall Nichols, and his family.
The STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) program is sponsored locally by the Augusta Kiwanis Club and on the statewide level by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the Georgia Department of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Education.
MacDonnell will attend a regional STAR student and teacher event at 7 tonight at First Baptist Church in Thomson. The winner of that event will move on to the state level, with a winner to be named April 28 in Atlanta.
The STAR program honors high school students with the highest SAT scores and class rank and the teachers who were most instrumental in their academic development.
It was the third time Nichols has been named the county's STAR teacher of the year and his fifth time as Westminster's STAR teacher.
For five years, he has been MacDonnell's Latin teacher.
"He's just such a good teacher," MacDonnell said, noting that his Latin studies have taught him to be a better writer, thinker and test-taker.
MacDonnell said he hasn't decided which college he'll attend, but he'd like to become an orthopedic surgeon.
His interest in that field, he said, grew from the injuries he has incurred playing soccer at Westminster, including a broken leg just before the playoffs in October and reconstruction work last spring to address several past ankle sprains.
After going through the reconstruction process, he thought: "That's cool. I want to do that for people."