Coweta’s STAR student an SAT ace; going to Harvard

East Coweta High School senior Yehong Zhu, center, and White Oak Elementary School REACH Teacher Paula Corley (R) were named as the region STAR Student and STAR Teacher on March 21 by Dr. Emily Felton (L), President of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) in a ceremony in Griffin. Photo/Special. 

Coweta County’s 2014 STAR Student Yehong Zhu has another star attached to her name. The East Coweta High School senior on March 21 was named STAR Student for the 10-county region that includes Coweta County.

Zhu and her family, along with STAR Teacher Paula Corley, were present at the Region 3B STAR Student and Teacher banquet in Griffin when the announcement was made. Zhu is now a contender for Georgia’s 2014 State STAR student.

A REACH teacher at White Oak Elementary School, Corley described her former pupil as an unusually gifted scholar, writer, artist, musician and student athlete. She also noted that Zhu scored 2,400 on her first sitting for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the highest possible score on the college entrance exam.

STAR students are seniors at Georgia public or private high schools who have the highest score in their school in one sitting on the SAT, taken through the November test date of their senior year. They must also be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average and of good character, said school system spokesman Dean Jackson.

Zhu came to Corley’s class midway through her 5th grade year “and she never skipped a beat,” said Corley, “...exceeding at every task she was offered, and showing exceptional intellectual curiosity and creativity.”

Zhu at the banquet said that she felt immediately at home in Corley’s REACH class. She said that Corley treated her and her fellow students “like young adults, with our own hopes and talents,” and provided her with a strong foundation for future academic success.

Jackson said Zhu has been accepted at Harvard University, where she plans to study government and later attend law school.

Among many other accomplishments described by Corley, Zhu is a Georgia Distinguished Young Woman, captain of the Academic Bowl Team, a pianist and violinist, a published author, founder the Newnan Anime Club founder of her own online art website, treasurer of the Newnan Youth Council, student government member, a volunteer for local organization such as Special Olympics and Relay for Life, an avid lacrosse player and “the first American high school student to earn college credit at a Chinese university.”

Jackson said Zhu at the banquet thanked her parents for their support and thanked Corley and her other teachers throughout her academic career in Coweta County for their support and inspiration. She also recognized East Coweta counselor Wendy Williams and East Coweta Principal Evan Horton, who she said is “the principal of the best high school in Georgia.”

“I can’t say enough of how proud we are of Yehong, her academic achievements and her many other achievements,” said Horton. “She is a great representative of our school, and will be a  great candidate at the state level.”

Jackson said Corley also stood out among the accomplished and inspiring teachers chosen STAR Students Thursday night. She was the only elementary school teacher among a group of high school math, science, English and art teachers. As White Oak Elementary School REACH teacher, she teaches gifted students in grades 1-5.

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