The Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) Foundation's STAR Student Award goes to seniors in the top percentages of their class who receive the highest SAT score in one sitting. Senior Jackson Wright was named as the STAR Student for Dalton High School and selected social studies teacher Michael Coulter as his influential STAR Teacher. Both were recognized at the Kiwanis Club of Dalton's luncheon for region STAR Students earlier in February.
With an exceptionally high SAT Score, Wright also received commendation as a National Merit Finalist. He is the first to obtain this title for DHS in many years. However, Wright fits the bill as STAR Student in more ways than his SAT score alone.
During his time at DHS, Wright has played for the tennis team and been a member of the German Club, National Honors Society and Beta Club. Last year he collected more than 1,000 coats for local elementary students through a coat drive that earned him his Eagle Scout Award.
And though Wright certainly stands out as an accomplished student, Coulter says Wright stands out more so because he does not stand out. "Jackson does not draw attention to himself and has no visible ego. His character is flawless in that regard; he is so humble," he said. "Being selected as STAR Teacher meant a great deal to me, but it meant all the more because it came from Jackson—because of who he is."
Wright's student-teacher relationship with Coulter began when he took AP Government last year and continues this year as he takes the IB Theory of Knowledge course. Wright is not an IB student but is taking the course, which has a well-deserved reputation for being obstinately difficult, out of his own desire to learn. He says Coulter's ability to challenge him and help him find interest in new topics is part of the reason he considers him his STAR Teacher.
"[Coulter] has definitely made me a better student and introduced me to a lot of new ideas and ways of thinking that have made me a better student and challenged me to think about why I believe what I believe," said Wright.
Coulter said it has been a joy for him to have Wright in class for the second time. "He is one of those students that I love to watch think because you can just look at him and see it happening. He doesn't forget anything you say, but for his particular mind, that is only the beginning," he explained. "He is able to relate things from various conversations we have had and link them together. He can then articulate those thoughts and perspectives in class and in his writing in a way that very few students are able to do."
As the Dalton City district designee, Wright will attend a banquet in Rome to see how his score ranks him among other students in the region. All STAR Students will also attend a state function in April for final recognition of their achievements this year.
Wright says receiving this award means a lot to him. "It was really satisfying to see that all of the hard work and studying I put in to prepare for the SAT pay off," he said. "It's kind of the culmination of years of learning from my teachers, too."
Wright has not finalized his post-graduation plans but would ideally study business or engineering at Vanderbilt University. Coulter said that whatever he chooses to do, he has full confidence that he will be successful.
"He could be good at so many areas. The way his mind works, he would be exceptionally good at law— the arguments he has raised in class are intriguing, clever and strong. Although, I don't think he has any interest in that," he said. "Jackson has an acute ability to make connections of things underneath the surface that most students don't. Wherever he ends up, they will be lucky to have him."