Luke Ellis found his best friend because of math.
His passion for the subject has equated to helping others understand it and when he heard that a classmate needed some help, he went out of his way to provide it.
"I am pretty sure I first met him because Patrick, his brother, told me he needed help," Ellis said. "When I was a freshman or maybe a sophomore, I rode the bus home with him and helped Timmy with math."
Now Ellis and Timothy Moody are best friends.
And just last week the senior at Dawson County High School was named this year's STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) student.
Ellis selected his math teacher, Cindy Brookshire, to be the STAR Teacher of the Year.
The Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) recognizes students annually for having the highest score on a single test date for the now two-part SAT taken through November of their senior year.
This is the 59th year of the program and more than 165 statewide civic organizations and businesses serve as local sponsors.
A student must also be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their graduating class according to grade point average.
Ellis easily fits the profile.
His unweighted GPA is a 4.0 and his weighted one is a 4.4.
He scored a 1450 out of a possible 1600 the only time he took the SAT-and he did not prepare for it.
"I had already taken the ACT and done pretty well on that, like a lot better than I did on the SAT," Ellis said. "So I just took it because I felt like I should take it I guess."
Pretty well on the ACT was a 34 out of a possible 36.
The obligation of taking the SAT has now earned him the STAR student title.
"He is an excellent math student, but he is also a great English student," said DCHS math teacher and STAR teacher of the year, Brookshire.
The 37-year teaching veteran who is officially retired comes to work for half days in the classroom and said that Ellis is a rare student.
"He is just a really wonderful person and is always willing to help somebody, willing to explain something to somebody mathematically," she said. "If they don't get what I say, they will ask him and he can sometimes get to what I was trying to say that they didn't understand."
Ellis said he chose Brookshire because she has helped him grow in the subject he loves.
"It was mainly because I was thinking she is probably the one that helped me grow the most and reaching what I wanted to do," he said. "There was a pretty big jump from beginning calculus to getting out of AP calculus. I learned a lot."
He's learned so much that he is now taking an independent AP calculus course, a second level calculus, according to Brookshire.
"The last two years, he strives to be excellent in whatever he does and that pays off," she said. "That's just part of his work ethic. He has a strong work ethic and he likes to help others...Even my lowest students, he will just kick in there and help them."
Outside of the classroom, Ellis runs track-specifically relays and sprints. He is also a long jumper.
He and his best friend Moody like to spend a lot of time at the gym and he is also a part of the local YoungLife group where he serves as a teen counselor in the organization.
Ellis' future plans, like most of his life, will be shaped by mathematics and his top college choice at the moment is Georgia Tech.
"They are super good for math and science stuff nearby," he said. "That's probably where I'd want to go."
After mulling over options like engineering and computer science, Ellis thinks he's decided to go with an applied mathematics major initially.
"I guess what my plan is to get like a bachelors in something broad like applied math and then go from that," he said. "Hopefully by that time I will have tried enough different classes to know if I want to be an engineer. I have never even taken a physics class. I might love that and never even know."
The STAR student award is sponsored annually by the Dawsonville Lion's Club.
"The Lion's Club has sponsored this for over 35 years," said Don Cargill, former president and current local coordinator for the group. "We firmly believe in the young people of Dawson County. This is one way over the years to shine a spotlight.
"The STAR program is one of the best programs in the state."
Ellis and Brookshire were presented with their awards during the banquet on Feb. 20 at the Dawsonville Tavern.
There will be a banquet to honor regional winners at 6 p.m. on March 21 at the University of North Georgia Dahlonega campus.