As the saying goes, you can't do much better than perfect, which is why Ashwin Rajendra's perfect 1,600 score on his Scholastic Assessment Test won him the coveted title of Columbia County's 2003 STAR Student.
The Augusta Preparatory Day School senior was one of seven public and private high school seniors vying for the honor. Ashwin was announced as the winner at the Harlem Women's Club 42nd annual Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) Program and Reception on Thursday.
Ashwin, however, was not at the reception. He used one of his spring holidays to tour the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, one of the three institutions he is considering attending in the fall. He is also considering Yale and Princeton universities.
Ashwin picked math teacher Tim Shafer as his STAR Teacher. There are only three students in the second-year advanced placement calculus class Shafer teaches, and Ashwin said it is the class he enjoys the most.
"He does a good job of teaching this class," Ashwin said. "We are going at a really good pace. He has a real love for it. He doesn't just give you problems, he really explains it. And he's helpful outside the classroom, as well."
Ashwin, 17, the son of Dushi and Ajita Rajendra of Martinez, has a full schedule of advanced placement courses this year, including calculus, physics, Latin, English and modern European history. He took advanced placement Spanish last year.
Shafer said Ashwin has taken so many advanced courses he could easily complete college in three years if he desired.
"That's one of the problems," Shafer said, "he is multitalented and does well in every area."
Ashwin has been invited to take the American Mathematics Competition test for the past three years. He also participated in the six-week Governor's Honors Program last summer where his concentration was in Spanish with a minor in social studies.
But it's not just academic skills that make Ashwin special.
"What stands out is his incredible people skills," Shafer said. "For somebody so academically talented, he has the aptitude and skills to go in all directions. He's the kind of guy we might all end up working for one day."
Beyond the classroom, Ashwin has been on the track team at Augusta Prep for four years. He is a Boy Scout, vice president of the school's National Honor Society, co-president of the Spanish Club, a member of the Math Team and secretary of the school's chapter of Augusta Urban Ministries.
As the 2003 Columbia County STAR student, Ashwin will compete at the state level against other top-scoring students.
Coordinated statewide by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation Inc., the STAR program was created to recognize Georgia's outstanding students and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development.
To obtain the STAR nomination, students must have the highest score in one sitting on the SAT taken on any grade level through the November test date of their senior year and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class.
Georgia's average SAT score is 980, with students scoring 491 on the math portion of the test and 489 on the verbal portion of the test. Ashwin scored a perfect 1,600.
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