With a little more than 300 students in her senior class, Leanna Wenger couldn't have been more surprised to learn that she was the STAR student at Evans High School.
"It was a surprise," she said, adding that she gave little thought to the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition honor when she took the SAT. "I really had forgotten all about the whole STAR student thing, so when I did get it, it was a big surprise."
Leanna, the 17-year-old daughter of Rich and Cheri Wenger, of Martinez, takes the honor in stride, saying she credits her parents for much of her desire to do well academically.
"I was home-schooled from the third to ninth grades," said Leanna, who enjoys taking and teaching piano lessons. "A lot of my vital years were when I was home-schooled. It was a direct influence from my parents."
Mary Jane Stout, Leanna's STAR teacher, said she was humbled to be chosen as the school's STAR teacher.
"Being STAR teacher is an honor that every teacher appreciates," said Stout, the chairperson of the English department at Evans High. "Leanna recognized my love for literature and for teaching. Leanna is a natural literature student and for her to think that I influenced her humbles me and makes me realize the importance of what we as teachers try to accomplish."
Selected as the STAR teacher for the third time, Stout said each honor is not lost on her.
"Each time the honor is special," she said. "These special students like Leanna take their choices seriously, and, therefore, I as a teacher feel even more special."
Stout and Leanna share a mutual love: literature. Leanna, who also shares her love of literature with her mother plans to study literature in college. She hopes to attend the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, but also has applied to Georgia Institute of Technology.
"The academic standards are top notch," she said of the University of Virginia. "I felt at home when I visited there and I felt that I would have a great opportunity to expand academically."
"Leanna has a love for reading; she is a natural student," Stout said. "Her writing reflects her maturity and unique voice. She challenges a teacher to work hard and she participates in class with a willing spirit and a kind heart. She has a tremendous faith in herself and in her beliefs."
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