2023 CCSD STAR Students Announced, Cedar Shoals Senior Named ‘System’ Winner

James and Carolina Star StudentsThe Clarke County School District is pleased to announce James Xiao of Cedar Shoals High School and Carolina Turner of Clarke Central High School as the district’s 2022-23 STAR Students.

The STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) program, sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE), recognizes the senior at each high school with the highest score on any single test date of the SAT who is also in the top 10% of their class based on grade-point average. Every STAR Student also names a STAR Teacher. 

In addition to winning at Cedar Shoals, James Xiao has been announced as the STAR Student for the Clarke County “system,” which includes both public and private schools. James will now compete in the PAGE Region 4 contest for the chance to advance to the state competition. The region winner will be announced March 20 at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. 



James and HubertyJames Xiao has been described by his teachers and school leaders as an excellent and well-rounded student. In addition to his numerous academic achievements, he has been successful in the athletic arena, helping lead Cedar Shoals’ swim team to the state meet the past few years. After graduation this May, he plans to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology and study computer science. 

“I’m just happy to be able to be STAR Student,” James said. “My parents really wanted me to get this achievement, so I’m happy that I could do it for them as well.” 

James selected Greg Huberty, who has taught in the Cedar Shoals math department for more than 30 years, as his STAR Teacher.

“He’s just been great,” James said of Mr. Huberty. “I love his classes. He really teaches you well. He prepares you, not only for the AP test but for what comes next like college and even after that.”

“It is both an honor and a privilege to be named STAR teacher,” said Mr. Huberty. “An honor because of all the phenomenal teachers at Cedar Shoals that I am honored to represent and a privilege because the greatest reward for a teacher is the acknowledgment that you have made a meaningful contribution to the intellectual growth of a student.”

Mr. Huberty said James is “as good as they come,” describing him as “a brilliant thinker, a thoughtful classmate, a diligent scholar, and an honorably humble young man.”

“He holds himself and others to the highest of expectations while simultaneously providing leadership and support in a manner that invites and honors his peers,” said Mr. Huberty. “The future is certainly beyond bright for James, as well as for those of us lucky enough to cross paths with a person capable of teaching us all how to be lifelong learners.”

Carolina and WheelerAt Clarke Central High, Carolina Turner has also garnered the reputation among her teachers and peers of being a brilliant and well-rounded student. She has excelled at many academic endeavors, including as a member of the school’s Academic Bowl team. She has also been a member of the Clarke Central swim team.

Carolina plans to study psychology in college and has already been accepted to the University of Georgia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Virginia. She is awaiting a few more admission decisions before finalizing her college decision. 

“(Winning) STAR student is mostly as a vindication of my diligence and intellect throughout these past four years at Central,” said Carolina. “This recognition is important to me because it’s an acknowledgment that all of the work that I’ve put into my academics and into preparing for the SAT has paid off.”

Carolina selected Clarke Central social studies teacher Drew Wheeler as her STAR teacher.

“Mr. Wheeler was pivotal to motivating me as a student and expanding my academic scope of interest,” Carolina said. “Even though I wasn’t expecting to be interested in my AP Macroeconomics class this year, the learning activities we did forced me to develop more interest in the subject. I also got to learn from Mr. Wheeler through my participation in Academic Team last semester.”

"I am thrilled to have been selected STAR Teacher, especially by a student as impressive as Carolina,” said Mr. Wheeler. “As a near 20-year veteran of the district, I have congratulated many other teachers upon reception of this honor that I value above many others. I value it above so many others because it is selected by the students we teach, who truly know the noteworthy achievements that are taking place in so many CCSD classrooms.

“I was terribly excited to see Carolina receive this truly remarkable honor. A lofty accomplishment like STAR student speaks to the innate and keen intelligence I witnessed from Carolina in both the AP Macroeconomics classroom, where she excelled amid a stellar group of seniors, and on the Clarke Central Academic Team. I am so happy someone beyond the schoolhouse has recognized the academic achievements of this creatively insightful student.”

James and Carolina were recognized Monday, Feb. 13, at the Classic City Rotary Club's weekly luncheon, where James’ selection as the system winner was also announced. The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the local STAR awards.

“Honoring these amazing young people and the teachers who have supported them is one of the best parts of my job,” said CCSD superintendent Dr. Robbie Hooker. “These students represent the promise of our community.”