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DCHS senior Ben Hodge named as Dawson’s 2023 STAR student
Lindsey Luchansky named STAR teacher
2023 STAR student Ben Hodges and 2023 STAR teacher Lindsey Luchansky stand with Dawson County High School administration and representatives of the Dawsonville Lion’s Club following the STAR student certificate presentation on Jan. 12. - photo by Erica Jones

Dawson County High School senior Ben Hodge has been named the 2023 STAR student for the district and has chosen DCHS language arts teacher Lindsey Luchansky as his STAR teacher. 

The story continues below. 

The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program is a program by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) that seeks to recognize and honor students for their achievements in high school. To qualify for STAR nomination, high school seniors must have the highest score on a single test date on the SAT and be in the top 10 percent or the top 10 students in their class based on grade point average.

Hodge was selected for the honor based on his academic achievement and high score on the SAT, on which he received a 1480 out of 1600 possible points. On Jan. 12, he was presented with a certificate honoring his accomplishment by members of the Dawsonville Lions Club, the local STAR program sponsor. 

After being chosen as the STAR Student, the student then selects the STAR teacher, or the teacher they believe has had the biggest impact on them during their high school experience. Hodge selected DCHS language arts teacher Lindsey Luchansky, who he had for honors American literature and AP English language and composition, as his STAR teacher. 

Hodge has attended every year of school in the Dawson County school system, and since his freshman year of high school he’s known he was interested in the tech and engineering fields. He recently received admission to Georgia Tech, where he will attend upon graduating high school this spring and plans to major in aerospace engineering in hopes of working with NASA or another aeronautics association. 

While in high school, some of Hodge’s favorite classes have been in the math and science fields, including participating in the school’s engineering program. 

"The engineering program is really good here. It’s definitely reinforced my decision to go to Tech; Mr. Skorich is great,” Hodge said.  “I love engineering. One of my other favorites is AP Calculus, and chemistry and physics are also good choices just because science has always been something I’ve naturally liked.” 

But unlike many other students who naturally gravitate towards math and science, Hodge also said that he enjoys language arts classes — especially the two he took in Luchansky’s classroom in his sophomore and junior years. 

“A lot of times with students who are so into engineering or STEM you don’t often see the English/language arts aspect of it as well, so I think for Ben it’s one of the rare occasions where I have a student who is so well-rounded in a lot of different subjects,” Luchansky said. “It’s not just that left-brained, analytical, math and science, but he can also write a really good paper and communicate his thoughts effectively, so it’s been a joy.” 

Hodge said that he chose Luchansky as his STAR teacher because, in her classes, he learned much more than just how to write well. 

“She’s a teacher that teaches you more than just your lessons,” Hodge said. “She teaches you about life lessons as well, good morals; she’s good at helping me to not just put words on paper but to flow my ideas through them too which is a really useful skill set.” 

Luchansky, who was selected as a STAR teacher by a student before in the 2019-20 school year, said that she was incredibly excited to have been chosen for the honor again this year by Hodge. 

“Even with this being the second time I was still so surprised and still very honored by it; it’s very validating,” Luchansky said. “It’s a wonderful achievement for Ben and I’m happy to be a part of his success.” 

Luchansky said that she first knew that Hodge would go far when he took her honors American literature class during his sophomore year.

"Ben is such a character,” Luchansky said. “I think it was his sophomore year in our honors American literature class where I realized he was special because his personal narrative that he wrote was just so well-crafted and well-written and took such a satirical direction that not many students are capable of at that level of high school — so I immediately knew that he was a special student.” 

Luchansky then encouraged Hodge to take her AP English language and composition class during his junior year and again saw him excel in that class when he received a perfect score on the AP exam. Through the success she has seen him achieve in both of her classes, she said she knows he will do just as well in college. 

“I feel confident that he’s got enough composition skills under his belt now that he can go forth to Tech, handle what they ask him to do with ease and start focusing more on his major-specific courses,” Luchansky said. 

Hodge said that gaining the recognition and title of STAR student came as a surprise to him, but that it’s a great cap to end his senior year with. 

“It’s a pleasure and it’s something that I’m very thankful and grateful for,” Hodge said. “It’s definitely an honor and something I wasn’t really expecting but something I think puts a good end page on my senior year.” 

While the STAR student recognition is based on the student’s SAT score, Luchansky said that she believes Hodge deserves it for many more reasons than just his test score. 

"Quite honestly, STAR student is the highest SAT score in the school but I think that Ben exhibits so much more than just the highest SAT score,” Luchansky said. “I couldn’t really think of anybody who would be more deserving of this than him.” 

“I don’t think I could think of any other teacher either,” Hodge added. 

As the district’s STAR student, Hodge will have the opportunity to attend a regional meeting at UNG in the spring, where he will give a speech introducing himself and compete against students from other districts in the area for the title of the region’s STAR student. If he wins the region competition, he will then go on to contend for the honor of being named the state’s STAR student. As Hodge’s STAR teacher, Luchansky will continue on with him through each level of competition.