Local High Schoolers named STAR Students

Published 10:30 am Monday, April 23, 2018

One student from Lafayette High School and six students from Oxford High School were named STAR Students by the Mississippi Economic Council.

STAR stands for Student Teacher Achievement Recognition. In order to receive this honor, high school seniors must have a score of 35 on the ACT and a cumulative grade average of at least 93. This year, the STAR program honored 285 students, the most in its history.

Foster Roush, LHS STAR Student, said the honor is the result of hard work and dedication.

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“To maintain a high GPA throughout my high school career, I have been very cautious about my grades and attendance,” Roush said. “To gain a high ACT score I also payed attention in school and I had some very helpful teachers such as my English teacher, Mrs. Daisy Bullard, who helped me greatly in practicing the ACT and learning the core skills.”

Being a STAR Student runs in Roush’s family – his brother, Addison, was a STAR Student as well during his time at LHS.

Part of earning this distinction is preparing for the ACTs, something OHS senior Lily Mitchell said was no easy task. All high school juniors in the state can take the ACT once at no charge, but those who want to hone their skills and improve their scores often choose to take the test more than once.

“The hardest part about getting STAR student status is the ACT score, which just comes with practice,” Mitchell said. “It’s definitely no easy task, and it took me 6 times taking the ACT to get my final score. I would say [to aspiring STAR students] don’t get discouraged, but also don’t be upset if you don’t get it because it’s just one score and won’t matter too much in the long run.”

Finding a balance between schoolwork and extracurricular activities is one thing in which Grace Ann Jones, from OHS, said she takes pride.

Jones, a recent commit to the Ole Miss women’s tennis team, prepared for the ACT by taking the PSAT and other practice tests. The lessons she learned from tennis, she said, can also apply inside the classroom.

“I think tennis has helped my school, and school has helped my tennis,” Jones said. “Problem-solving has helped a lot, and being able to work under pressure, because that’s big in tennis and has helped me on the ACT and in tennis as well.”

Both Oxford and Lafayette County school districts are among the top in the state, consistently earning high marks in state tests. Because of those high scores, OHS senior Joe O’Keefe said he was surprised to be among those selected for the honor.

O’Keefe said, while he tries to be a role model for others, his real motivation is standing out from the crowd.

“I’m one of six kids in my family, so I’ve always felt a pressure to try and separate myself and be unique,” O’Keefe said. “My advice for younger students would be to take as many AP classes as you can because you get more information and learn more than regular classes, so you’re more prepared to take the ACT.”

Others who were named STAR Students are Anna Renfroe, Josh Pearson and Sadie Pasco-Pranger. The students were honored at a ceremony in Jackson on April 12.