Valwood in the News

Valwood Announces 2024 STAR Student

January 4, 2024

HAHIRA, GA – December 8, 2023 – Valwood senior, Wesley Clark, is the 2023 STAR student. The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition award is given to the graduating senior who has achieved the highest score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in one sitting, while meeting other program requirements, including being among the Top 10 percent of the graduating class. Wesley scored 1470 on his SAT.

The award is sponsored at the state level by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation and sponsored locally by the Valdosta North Rotary Club.

Wesley is the son of Dr. Michael and Christy Clark. He enrolled at Valwood as a second-grade student. He was named an academic leader his sophomore and junior year. He is a recipient of the AP Biology Award and the Honors Chemistry Award in 2022 and the AP Chemistry and Honors Precalculus Award in 2023. Other awards and recognition include AP scholar with distinction, Governor’s Honors Program Nominee, Georgia Certificate of Merit, National Rural and Small Town College Board Recognition Award, and the Presbyterian Award. Clark has also been on the Headmaster’s List his entire high school career.

Wesley’s extracurricular activities include playing varsity soccer, competing on the Science Olympiad Team and attending music club. His hobbies include cooking, volunteering at the food bank, working and enjoying time around the farm with his dad and brother, and working out at the gym.

After graduation, Wesley plans to attend Georgia Tech, and pursue a career as a Chemical Engineer.

Wesley stated, “I am very grateful to be named the 2024 Star Student at Valwood. I want to thank my family, my teachers, coaches, and friends who have supported me and challenged me to always do my best.”

Wesley selected Danielle Ward as his STAR teacher. Mrs. Ward holds a master’s in biology from Valdosta State University. She worked as a course instructor and teaching assistant in the biology department at Valdosta State prior to joining the Valwood upper school faculty in 2021. She teaches Anatomy, AP Biology, Biology, Physics, and Pre AP-Biology at Valwood.

As for the reason Mrs. Ward was selected, Clark stated, “She really inspired me to learn more than simply what was necessary. I feel like we also had a good connection because I was her student in my first year of high school when it was her first year of teaching. She learned and grew as a teacher while I learned and grew as a student.”

Mrs. Ward stated “It is my absolute honor and privilege to be selected as STAR teacher by a student as gifted, as motivated, and as inspiring as Wesley Clark. During our time together in AP Biology, I once mentioned to Wesley that his insight and understanding was so remarkable that I felt I had nothing left to teach him, but that I would continue to try; and of course, for every new standard I set, Wesley rose to the occasion. I am enormously proud of all that Wesley has achieved and will be forever grateful that it was my good fortune to be his teacher.”

Valwood Head of School, John L. Davis, Sr. said, “Wesley is a hard worker and a dedicated student. We are very proud of his accomplishments, and we cannot wait to see what his future holds.”
Since its creation in 1958 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the STAR Program has honored nearly 26,000 high school seniors. Every accredited high school in Georgia is eligible to participate in the preeminent student/teacher academic recognition.

Locally, the STAR students and teachers are honored by their schools and receive special recognition in the communities for one of more than 165 civic organizations and businesses that serve as local STAR sponsors.