The Walker School is proud to announce that Senior Merrill Hart has been named the Marietta City Schools District STAR Student and will represent Walker and the district at the regional level.
The PAGE Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program is sponsored, administered and promoted by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) and the PAGE Foundation. Since its inception in 1958, the STAR program has honored nearly 28,000 students and the teachers selected as the most influential to their academic achievement. High school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the SAT and be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade point average to qualify for STAR nomination.
Merrill, who is still finalizing her college decision, chose Walker Upper School Spanish teacher Eva Bundy as the educator who has been most influential to her academic success.
“I was proud to pick Ms. Bundy because she has taught me for four years and she knows I used to be a lot more quiet and shy, so she’s helped me come out of my shell,” Hart said. “[Ms. Bundy] also led the Spanish exchange trip my sophomore year, and that opened my eyes up to different cultures.”
Hart, who has been at Walker since Sixth Grade, said she appreciates the ability at Walker to get deeply involved in activities. During high school, she participated in a variety of activities – Cross Country, Yearbook (Editor-in-Chief), Discipline Committee (delegate), Academic Team (president) and Tennis.
She also says Walker’s size has enabled her to form close relationships with her peers and teachers, which will help her in college and beyond.
“Starting in college I will feel comfortable talking to teachers during office hours and asking for help because of my experience at Walker,” she said. “When I’m picking a major or career, I want to be as passionate about it as Ms. Bundy is about teaching Spanish.”
The admiration is mutual. Bundy says of Hart: “She’s everything. She’s one of the strongest academically, she has represented Walker outside of the country and she is an athlete. She gives 100 percent in the class, as an athlete and a leader.
“She is a special student. She works so hard. I want her to be proud of this accomplishment.”
Hart is humble about the award and her accomplishments: “Anyone can work really hard, so it’s more about hard work and committing to stuff and focusing on what you’re passionate about.”
She also has advice for young students: “I used to be intimidated by STEM classes and leadership positions and thought I couldn’t do that, and you just have to change your mindset and say you can do anything if you work hard.”
STAR begins each year in participating Georgia high schools when the STAR Student is named and chooses a STAR Teacher to share in this recognition. The students and their teachers are honored by their schools and receive special recognition in their communities from one of the more than 172 statewide civic organizations and businesses that serve as local sponsors of the STAR program. Students then compete for school system recognition as the top STAR Student, and those winners compete for region honors. Region winners contend for the honor of being named State PAGE STAR Student. STAR Teachers continue on with their STAR Students at every level of the program.