The 18-year-old won the county honor with a combined SAT score of 2320 and his potential for post-high school endeavors.
“Academics do come naturally to me, but it’s also really important to work hard,” Caldwell said.
About 150 people attended a lunch banquet at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church honoring the 11 Richmond County STAR student finalists Monday. The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program, sponsored locally by the Augusta Kiwanis Club, recognizes high school students with the highest SAT scores and class rank, along with teachers who were most instrumental in their academic development.
Caldwell chose A.R. Johnson teacher Michael Wilson as his mentor for how he inspired a passion for academics and a drive to work hard.
“He’s very self-disciplined; he takes notes, which means he actively listens,” Wilson said of Caldwell. “He’s a great reader and critical thinker.”
After graduation, Caldwell plans to attend Harvard or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study nuclear engineering.
As the county winner, he will move on to the district STAR competition, which is followed by the statewide event in April. STAR is sponsored statewide by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the Georgia Department of Education.
Kiwanis President John C. Bell said the STAR program began shortly after Russia put a satellite in orbit in 1957, which sparked a sense of urgency for American success in math and engineering.
Guest speaker Ruth Knox, the president of Wesleyan College in Macon, encouraged the young people to always continue the learning process. Knox, who was Thomson High School’s STAR student in 1971, said having an enriched life means continually reading, exploring, meeting new people and feeding curiosity about the world.
“Higher education is only the beginning,” she said. “The process of learning is never-ending.”