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STAR students honored

DULUTH - Some of Gwinnett County's brightest students were named "STARs" Wednesday for their academic achievement and performance on the Scholastic Assessment Test.

The Gwinnett County Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program honored students who are in the top 10 percent of their class from 23 public and private high schools and who scored the highest on the SAT. The teachers whom the students selected as the most instrumental in their academic development were also recognized.

Two Gwinnett County Public Schools students who made a perfect score on the SAT - Yoon Mun of Brookwood High and Maylene Xie of Parkview High - and a Buford High student will compete in March in a regional STAR program. Mun and Xie will also advance to the state STAR competition.

Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said the annual banquet is one of the more important events because it "honors students that have excelled as well as those who are their leaders in the classroom."

Xie, the Parkview student, said she felt lucky to be honored by the school district, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.

"I did not expect this at all," she said.

The first time Xie took the SAT, she said she stayed up until 3 a.m. watching television. Though she was tired when she took the three-part test, she ended up making a perfect score.

"I just felt so much relief," said Xie, who plans to study biology and the history of science and medicine at Yale University.

Xie said she chose Mary Lynne Huie as her STAR teacher. Huie often stays after school and will show up late to faculty meetings to help her students, Xie said.

"She's extremely dedicated," Xie said. "She got me into writing ... and she guides me."

Mun, the Brookwood student, said she felt very honored by Wednesday's recognition.

"I don't think it's all just me," she said. "I've had a lot of support from my teachers and parents. And luck."

Mun made a perfect score on the SAT the second time she took the test. She made a 2,290 on her first attempt and decided to retake the college entrance exam because she knew her mother would be happy if she scored just 10 more points.

When Mun got her results after she took the test again, she said she had to keep checking the score to believe she actually did better than adding 10 points and made a perfect 2,400.

Mun said she chose to recognize her Advanced Placement Literature teacher, Dana Kling, because he makes his challenging class fun for students and he always makes her smile.

Maria Louise Petroni, a Buford High student, said she took the SAT three times, and her highest score was 2,210.

Buford City Schools Superintendent Geye Hamby said Petroni has excelled in academics and athletics and has received scholarships to attend the University of South Carolina.

Petroni said she chose her weight lifting coach, Dicky May, as her STAR teacher because he's had the most impact on her life. May was also honored this year as Buford High's Teacher of the Year.