Three graduates named STAR Students for Vicksburg area

Published 2:59 pm Thursday, June 2, 2022

Three students in Warren County were recognized as STAR Students for the Class of 2022.

ArShayla N. Johnson from Vicksburg High School, Christina Waisner from St. Aloysius and Adan R. Byrd from Warren Central High School were all named STAR Students.

The STAR Student program is sponsored by the Mississippi Economic Council’s M.B. Swayze Foundation and recognizes the senior in each graduating class with the highest ACT scores.

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To be eligible, students must score at least a 25 on the ACT and hold a cumulative average of 93 in core classes through the first semester of their senior year.

Johnson, who is the daughter of Patricia Johnson and Carl Johnson Jr., received a 25 on her ACT.

“I was really excited when I found out I was selected as a STAR Student,” Johnson said. “Vicksburg High School hasn’t had a STAR Student in four years, so I was really proud of myself,” she said.

Johnson said she had scored a 23 on her first three tests and had decided she wasn’t going to take a fourth.

“But something in me kept saying, ‘Take it,’” she said. With the last try, Johnson raised her score by two points, giving her the results she needed to become a STAR Student.

As part of being named STAR Student, each recipient names a STAR Teacher as having the biggest impact on them as a student.

Johnson chose Yolanda B. Atkinson, an English teacher at VHS.

“I chose her because she has played a key role in my life since the 10th grade. She pushed me further than I could have gone by myself and reminded me I could do more if I put my mind to it,” Johnson said.

Johnson plans to attend Mississippi State University and major in business administration and minor in marketing.

Byrd, who was also named WCHS salutatorian, scored a 32 on his ACT.

He chose Kristy L. Brannon as his STAR Teacher.

“Mrs. Brannon taught me chemistry and physics. And I chose her because she was able to teach me better than any other teacher I had until that point,” Byrd said.  “And she changed the way I viewed school,” he said.

Byrd is the son of Aaron and Marisol Byrd. He plans to attend Brigham Young University and become an aerospace engineer.

St. Aloysius high school teacher Chesley Lambiotte was Waisner’s pick as STAR Teacher.

Scoring a 34 on her ACT test, Waisner said she chose Lambiotte, who teaches performing arts, theology and digital media at St. Al, because she encouraged her to continue doing what she loved doing — writing.

“I had just discovered I had a talent and passion for writing, and in performing arts, Mrs. (Lambiotte) gave me my first opportunity to have my writing made public through our class’s one-act play — what we refer to as Flash Features,” Waisner said. “That moment is what really kickstarted the idea that my writing had value and was something to share, and that’s a lesson that’s always stuck with me.”

While most students choose their STAR Teacher from those who taught them in core classes, Waisner did not. She said she chose Lambiotte because she was a teacher who had encouraged her spirit.

“In my junior year, school got far more difficult than I expected. I was constantly exhausted and was becoming burnt out. The only classes that I felt I could take a break in and let my creativity shine without the stress of how ‘good’ the end result would be, were Mrs. (Lambiotte’s) classes. She was the teacher that gave me breathing room and a low-stress environment to relax, which subsequently reignited my drive and passion for learning,” she said.

And for that reason, Waisner said, “She (Lambiotte) was certainly the most influential teacher in my high school career, and that is why I chose her.”

Waisner was also named St. Al’s valedictorian.

She is the daughter of Scott and Eileen Glynn and plans to attend the University of Mississippi.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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