MOULTRIE, Ga. — A student who took every Latin class Colquitt County High School offers was named STAR Student Thursday at the weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Moultrie.
Eli Whitaker, a senior, naturally chose his Latin teacher, Bryan Baker, as his STAR Teacher.
“He had a knack for making us laugh in the middle of class while teaching us something he’s really passionate about,” Whitaker said.
Plus, Whitaker said, the Latin classes increased his SAT score “pretty heftily.” He figured he owed Baker something for that, since the SAT score is the primary criterion for the STAR Student award.
Baker said he met Whitaker five years ago when he visited C.A. Gray Junior High and Willie J. Williams Middle School to recruit students for a Latin class that was being expanded to the junior high. He was asking the students for words of more than two syllables, so that he could demonstrate their links to Latin or Greek.
“There was a seventh grader immediately to my right who said, ‘Pulchritudinous.’ Which is a good Latin word,” Baker said.
That seventh grader was Whitaker, who went on to take all three years of Latin from Baker at C.A. Gray and Colquitt County High. He scored maxima cum laude — the highest ranking — on the National Latin Exam.
In addition to his background in Latin, Whitaker has taken several Advanced Placement classes (four this year). He works at H&S Supply, and he’s a member of Temple Baptist Church.
He plans to attend the University of Georgia and to major in biology with hopes of becoming a physical therapist.
He is the son of Angie and Lamar Whitaker.