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Water Valley student, teacher honored

This year’s STAR Student at Water Valley High School had a unique opportunity to thank her mom for all her help over the years.

Senior Allyson Avant recently was announced as the school’s STAR Student, and she chose her mom as her STAR Teacher.

“I chose my mom as my STAR Teacher because I could think of no one else that had supported me as much or been as invested in me,” she said. “So many of my teachers made great candidates, but there is nothing quite like a mother’s support and love.”

Mom Melissa Avant, an eighth-grade social studies teacher, was excited that the first time she received the nomination was from her daughter.

“I feel extremely honored that Ally chose me as her STAR Teacher,” she said. “I know the caliber of teachers that she has had throughout her career in our school system, and there are a great number of excellent teachers that she could have chosen. My husband and I know that Ally’s success is a direct reflection of the high quality of instruction that she has received from some of the best teachers in the state.”

Allyson said she worked hard throughout high school, in and out of the classroom. She’s a member of the varsity basketball, softball and cross country teams and is a varsity cheerleader. She’s a member of the Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, student council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Bible Study Club. She’s also active with 180 Ministries, the First Baptist Church Water Valley youth group.

Her favorite subject, English, will help her in her future schooling and career path.

“I absolutely love to read,” she said. “I’ve had incredible English teachers that have helped me develop as a reader and encouraged me to expand my reading to all genres, not just those I enjoy most.

“After graduation I will be attending the University of Mississippi as a member of the Sally McDonnell-Barksdale Honors College. I have also been chosen to be an Ole Miss Women’s Council Scholar and a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class.  I will be majoring in political science with plans to attend law school.”

Mom Melissa said when Allyson heads off to college it will be a bittersweet moment.

“I could not be more proud of Ally, not only for all of her accomplishments and hard work throughout the years, but for her character and who she is,” she said. “We as a family are sad to see her go, but know that God has an amazing plan for her life and we can’t wait to see where his path leads her.”

The pair attended the honor ceremony for STAR nominees in Jackson together recently. The student-teacher achievement program is sponsored by the M.B. Swayze Foundation, and those selected receive scholarships thanks to the Kelly Gene Cook Sr. Charitable Foundation.

“My trip to Jackson for the ceremony was an awesome experience,” Allyson said. “It was a complete honor to be recognized as one of the top-performing students in the state by the highest ranking officials in the state.”

Melissa said the trip was awesome and it was a delight to be surrounded by the state’s brightest students and best teachers. She plans to continue her work in the classroom using inspiration from the whole STAR experience.

“My goal has always been to create lifelong learners who always have a desire to learn more,” she said. “I try to make a point to invest in the lives of my students and let them know that I really do love them and that they can succeed.”