Coweta's Star Student

Saeyun Lee aims to help his sister

by Rebecca Leftwich

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Honored at Friday's STAR Program were, from left, Chris Sewell and Saeyun Lee of East Coweta High School; Glenda Davis and Cara Stechmann of The Heritage School; Carlye Schock and Rachel Hess of Trinity Christian School; Damon Skelton and Rees Horton of Northgate High School; and Christopher Swanson and Will Vineyard of Newnan High School.

He had to learn English before he could learn biology, and now Saeyun Lee has set his sights on a career in rheumatology so he can help his sister in her fight against lupus.

Lee’s sister, Saeyoung, buried her face in her hands when her brother was recognized as Coweta County’s 2013 STAR Student Friday.

The East Coweta High School senior was honored at a Newnan Rotary Club luncheon at Newnan Country Club along with his STAR Teacher, biology teacher Chris Sewell, and STARs from Newnan High, Northgate High, Trinity Christian School and The Heritage School.

Sewell introduced Lee, praising his “internal drive” and “deep interest” in human physiology and medicine spurred on by Saeyoung’s disorder.

“He just wanted to learn everything about his sister and the medical condition she was dealing with,” Sewell said.

Lee thanked Sewell – who has a background in wildlife biology and forestry and began teaching at East Coweta in 2007 – for introducing him into the world of biology.


“At first, it was hard to grasp,” Lee said, but learning about stem cell transplants and the human immune system helped him understand what was happening to his sister.

“It encouraged me to study vigorously,” he said.

Lee – who now is Coweta County’s nominee for regional and, potentially, for state STAR Student – has completed AP Chemistry, Biology and Physics courses at East Coweta. A member of the varsity tennis team, the Fall 2012 Homecoming Court and the National Honor Society, he plans to pursue a biochemistry degree at Dartmouth College in anticipation of a career in medicine.

Before presenting STAR Student and Teacher awards for each school, Rotarian Dean Jackson emphasized to those in attendance – students, teachers, principals, counselors, Coweta Board of Education members and families, as well as Superintendent of Coweta County Schools Steve Barker, who also is a club member – Rotary’s commitment to youth.

“This club’s continuing support for education is one of the most important things we do all year,” Jackson said.

Each school was represented during Rotary’s annual celebration of top local scholars by its student with the highest score in a single sitting of the Scholastic Aptitude Test. To qualify for STAR – Student Teacher Achievement Recognition – students must also be ranked among the top 10 percent or top 10 students in their classes based on grade point average.

Each honoree in turn names as his or her STAR Teacher the educator who most encouraged that student’s academic development.

In addition to Lee and Sewell, those honored by Newnan Rotary were:

From The Heritage School – Cara Stechmann, whose STAR Teacher is AP Literature and Composition instructor Glenda Davis.

From Newnan High School – William Russell “Will” Vineyard, whose STAR Teacher is AP Microeconomics instructor Christopher Swanson.

From Northgate High School – Rees Horton, whose STAR Teacher is AP Calculus instructor Damon Skelton.

From Trinity Christian School – Rachel Yvonne Hess, whose STAR Teacher is literature instructor Carlye Schock.

Sponsored by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the 50-year-old STAR Program has honored more than 20,000 high school seniors and their most influential educators. Friday’s luncheon was the first at which Trinity Christian School was represented.



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