Father-daughter duo share Starr Student legacy


Kimberley Beatty

The 2016 Starr Student follows in her father’s footsteps by getting the highest SAT score in her graduating class. “She’s an outstanding student and very witty, and she has enthusiasm about a wide variety of things,” her academic team coach Nancy Close said.

Faith Terry, Op-ed Editor

“My mom woke me up at six in the morning to tell me when my scores were online,” senior and Starr Student Maddie Beatty said of her most recent time taking the SAT. “[Getting Starr Student] was a little bit of a big deal within my family,” she joked.

The Starr Student award is a recognition given by the school to the senior with the highest SAT score. For Beatty’s family, this award held a special meaning. Beatty’s father, Brian Beatty, who graduated from Calvary Day School in Savannah, had also been the Star Student of his 90-person class. “His SAT score was around 1340, but the SAT was much harder then,” Beatty said.

[My dad] and I basically have the same brain, personality-wise.

— Maddie Beatty

Though Beatty ultimately received a super score of 2400, the award is based on the best score in a single sitting. Trying to earn a high score became a personal challenge for Beatty, who took the test five times. “I first took the SAT the summer after sophomore year and got a 2030,” she said, “but my best score ended up being a 2390.”

Beatty insists she achieved this feat by taking the test multiple times. “It was learning how to play the game that helped me more than reading prep books and learning vocab terms,” she said.

And while Beatty’s 1600 composite score may sound better than her father’s 1340, she maintains that they’re entirely different. “It’s really impossible to compare our scores,” Beatty said, “because the test has changed so much.”

Sharing the award was a bonding experience for the already close father-daughter pair. “My dad was so excited when he found out,” Beatty said. “He and I basically have the same brain, personality-wise.”

And the duo’s similarities certainly extend beyond their stellar performances on the SAT. Beatty’s father is a software engineer and computer programmer, and she shares his interests in science, math and technology. “I want to go into biomedical engineering with the hopes of eventually researching developmental and degenerative disorders,” Beatty said.

Even beyond her father, Beatty’s family has influenced her decision to pursue this career path. “My grandmother has Parkinson’s, and I have a close family member with autism,” Beatty said. “That really shaped where I want to go in life because I have an emotional connection with these disorders. It was clearly a calling for me.”

From a young age, Beatty’s family pushed her to do well academically. “Neither of my parents’ parents really put emphasis on academics, and they didn’t like that,” Beatty said. “So even though my parents aren’t really in my business about school, they do care about it and they want me to do well. And that makes me want to do well.”

To recognize those who have pushed them to succeed, the Starr Student selects a “Starr Teacher.” This teacher is a figure who has significantly impacted the student’s academic career. For Beatty, the natural choice was Monica Thomas, who taught her during kindergarten and first grade at Peeples Elementary.

“I needed more challenges in kindergarten because I was a very earlier reader and writer,” Beatty said. “Ms. Thomas said that I could come into her first grade class for academics, but I still had lunch and naptime with my kindergarten class.”

Beatty considers this one of the defining moments that shaped her as a student. “[Being in her class] was really great for me, because she made it acceptable for me to be myself, and be weird, and be smart,” Beatty said. “She was the first person outside of my own family to tell me, ‘You can be yourself and you can achieve things.’”

This philosophy has certainly made itself evident throughout Beatty’s high school experience, as she has participated in a wide variety of extracurricular activities, from marching band to academic team. Beatty is also co-captain of color guard, president of Beta Club and even competed in Miss Starr’s Mill, where she showed off 13 years of violin lessons in the talent portion.

“The diversity of her talent is remarkable,” academic team coach Nancy Close said. “She’s an outstanding and witty student, and a great analytical thinker.”