Liberty County’s brightest students and the teachers who contributed most to their academic success were honored Thursday at a luncheon at Bethesda Church.
The Liberty County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 30th Student Teacher Achievement Recognition luncheon, recognizing three high school seniors with the highest scores on the three-part Scholastic Aptitude Test and the teachers those students chose as most responsible for helping their academics.
“As the father of a Bradwell Institute graduate who’s now a professor at Washington University, I want to say we have a great school system here in Liberty County,” said George Holtzman, owner of Coldwell Banker Holtzman, Realtors, who gave the invocation. “The key to a good education is parental involvement, and I think it’s clear these young people we’re honoring here today not only received a lot of support from their teachers but also at home.”
Holtzman admitted he wasn’t expected to say anything, but what he said was in line with comments by chamber host Willa Lewis and Board of Education Chairwoman Lily Baker. Baker congratulated the students and thanked their teachers and parents for giving them the support and guidance they needed.
After the lunch and award presentations, Holtzman said his son, Greg Holtzman, left Liberty County to complete his undergraduate degree at Emory University in Atlanta then a master’s and a doctorate degree at Washington University in St. Louis. Holtzman said academic success and career achievements of that nature are typical of Liberty County students.
Guest speaker Anthony Burns of Georgia Power and Lewis presented each student and teacher with plaques and certificates and allowed each of them an opportunity to speak.
Bradwell Institute senior Lindsay Nicole Williams was the first to be recognized and later was selected as the county winner. Her 2210 SAT score helped win her the top honor. Williams said she is waiting to hear from her college choices, including the University of Georgia and Washington University. She plans to go to medical school and specialize in orthopedics, a field she said she’s had a lot of experience in already.
“I’ve never really been good in sports,” she said, laughing. “In fact, I have two left feet. I tried out for cheerleading once, and as I approached the stage, I tripped and fell on my face.”
Although Williams said she sometimes believed her science teacher, Brian Rothwell, had too much confidence in her, Rothwell said she never failed to exceed his expectations.
“Lindsey has the academic intelligence and curiosity that challenges a teacher,” he told luncheon guests. “But it’s great to be challenged.”
First Presbyterian senior Rodney Cameron Riley’s 2070 SAT score already has won him acceptance at Armstrong Atlantic State University and Georgia Tech. In addition to his plans to major in material or chemical engineering, Riley hopes to play college baseball.
Riley’s science teacher, Kathryn Walden, who’s taught science for 29 years at Bradwell Institute, Liberty County High School and now First Presbyterian, said she is “very, very flattered” that Riley chose her as his teacher/mentor. She told luncheon guests it was a pleasure to watch Riley grow up, having taught him every year since he was in the seventh grade.
Liberty County High School senior Adrienne Layne Andrews has her future mapped out, beginning with an undergraduate degree in biology from UGA then medical school. Donita Strickland, her nursing assistant program instructor, beamed with pride at her star pupil, and not just because of her 1890 SAT score.
“She’s an exceptional student,” Strickland said. “I can’t wait for her to take care of me when she becomes a doctor.”
In addition to Georgia Power, other sponsors for Thursday’s luncheon included The Heritage Bank, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, Kiwanis Club of Liberty County, Keep Liberty Beautiful, Southeast Auto, Hinesville Walmart, Interstate Credit Union and VIP Office Furniture and Supplies. Each sponsor gave gifts to the students and teachers