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LCHS senior Lopez named countywide STAR Student
Jayden Lopez
Countywide and Liberty County High School STAR Student Jayden Lopez talks about the impact his STAR Teacher, Mindy Snell, has had on him.

Choosing his Honors American Literature instructor as his STAR Teacher, Liberty County- wide STAR Student Jaylen Lopez still found it hard to put into words Mindy Snell’s impact on him.

Lopez, a senior at Liberty County High School, was named the county’s STAR Student during a Liberty County Chamber of Commerce luncheon last Thursday at the Performing Arts Center. Lopez hopes to study mechanical engineering, specifically industrial manufacturing, at either Georgia Tech or Georgia Southern.

He chose Snell, who is also the English Department head at LCHS, who is also his community service internship mentor.

“I do enjoy math and science a lot,” Lopez said. “But for some reason, for English, it’s always been a really tough subject I wanted to do well in.”

What struck Lopez immediately about Snell’s class was the setup — it wasn’t traditional.

“There are beanbag couches and comfortable chairs and the assignments she gives, she encourages creativity,” he said.

Along with the different classroom environs, how the assignments were done also intrigued Lopez.

“She is one of the best teachers you would ever want to meet,” he said. “It was very unique, a very special class, unlike any other class I had ever taken. The assignments, I felt, were just easier to do than other assignments. They had a unique format, parameters, about how students felt about certain things. We could write what we feel and our work come out better because of it.”

Lopez first entered Snell’s class on the heels of COVID-19 as a sophomore, and she acknowledged it was difficult to get to know the kids again. Lopez’s dedication was apparent.

“He was quiet but always focused on his assignments,” Snell said. “He was never just OK with his work. He tried to make the activities come alive. He likes to have solutions to problems. I was always impressed with what he was able to do.”

Bradwell Institute STAR Student Angella So Young Jung chose James Boyce, the chair of the Social Studies Department who teaches AP Government, AP Human Geography and U.S. History, as her STAR Teacher. John David Satterfield was chosen as First Preparatory Christian Academy’s STAR Student, and he chose art teacher Erica Childres as his STAR Teacher.

Jung said Boyce teaches “in a way that is challenging.”

“He is someone who is dedicated to the success of all his students and he does his best to make sure they will succeed,” she said. “He taught us that an A is not given and that is should be earned.”

Boyce lauded Jung for her character, exemplified by her volunteering as an interpreter for parents who need help.

“Angella was one of those students who continues and purposely drove herself to success,” he said. “Her commitment to excellence was demonstrated by her character, leadership and service. Character matters and Angella has some of the highest moral character that I have ever seen from a student who wanted to be exceptional.”

Satterfield noted Childres’ generosity and positivity in making her his STAR Teacher. Childres, who has taught Satterfield art and broadcasting, said working with Satterfield for the last 10 years has been a pleasure.

“There are so many wonderful things I could say about him,” she said. “His love of art is what connected us. But over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to work on many, many projects. He is a very hard worker inside and outside the classroom. We always share some laughs when we work together, and usually some Chick-fil-A.

“I love the way he cares about others. John David is one of the kindest and most generous people you would ever want to meet.”

To earn STAR Student status, high school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the SAT and be in the top 10% or top 10 students of their class, based on grade point average.

STAR students and teachers will compete at a regional level, and region winners advance to compete as a state-level winner.

Lopez found a way to compliment Snell’s effect on him during his high school career.

“She has really helped me grow as a student and a person,” he said.

Jayden Lopez
Jayden Lopez cracks a smile as he is announced as the Liberty County-wide STAR Student for 2024. Lopez is a senior at Liberty County High School. Photos by Pat Donahue
Jayden Lopez
Liberty County High School STAR Student Jayden Lopez chose English teacher Mindy Snell as his STAR Teacher. They also are the county’s winners for STAR Student and Teacher.
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