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Bright Future: Cathedral STAR student finds confidence in honor

Cathedral High School senior Silas Whitaker was selected as the school’s STAR student for the year and he selected his science teacher Jamie Gibson to be his STAR teacher. STAR stands for Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition and is given to a student who excels academically as well as earning the highest ACT score at his or her school. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Cathedral High School senior Silas Whitaker was selected as the school’s STAR student for the year and he selected his science teacher Jamie Gibson to be his STAR teacher. STAR stands for Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition and is given to a student who excels academically as well as earning the highest ACT score at his or her school. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Cathedral senior Silas Whitaker remains humble after receiving one the highest achievements of his graduating class.

Whitaker, 17, was selected as Cathedral’s 2014-15 STAR student for maintaining a GPA of 4.188 and scoring a 33 on the ACT.

“I was pretty excited,” Whitaker said on being named the STAR student. “It helped me realize that I am pretty smart. Before that, I was kind of doubting myself.”

STAR is an acronym for Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition, a Mississippi title given to the student who excels academically in the classroom and earns the highest ACT score at his or her school.

Whitaker knows it’s important to remain humble after receiving such a special recognition and after being recognized in Jackson with more than 500 STAR students and teachers on April 30.

Whitaker learned everyone is good at something.

“When I went to the STAR student banquet, there were people there who were really smart,” he said. “I would say that there are always people who might be better than you in a certain category, but we are all the best at something.”

As STAR student, Whitaker gets to choose a teacher who had the greatest impact on his education.

Whitaker chose Cathedral science teacher Jamie Gibson as the school’s STAR teacher.

“I’m not nervous around Ms. Gibson,” Whitaker said. “That really helps me learn and focus on my work. She’s a fun teacher.”

Gibson has taught at Cathedral for four of her five years of being an educator.

She teaches chemistry, organic chemistry and honor’s physics. She taught Whitaker in all three subjects.

“Silas challenges himself. He challenges me,” Gibson said. “He has good questions and keeps me on my toes, which makes teaching fun for me because it keeps it interesting.”

Gibson still considers herself new in regards to teaching, which made Whitaker choosing her as STAR teacher special.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” she said. “One of my goals as a teacher is to educate, but I want students to look back and go ‘I remember this teacher because she did this.’ Not that I just taught them chemistry or physics, but that I was able to touch their lives.”

Gibson praised Whitaker’s abilities to perform advanced math skills without the need of a calculator, a feat that comes natural for the STAR student.

Aside from being a STAR student, Whitaker plays for the school’s tennis team and participates in the national honor society, peer ministry and the math and science tournament team.

Whitaker expects to attend Mississippi State University to study in mechanical engineering.

He is the son of Dr. Dick Whitaker and Sheryl Whitaker.