Excellence in Español

Starr’s Mill students rank high among National Spanish Exam takers


Ximena Bejarano

The gold medal the National Spanish Examinations staff awards students each year for their scores on the National Spanish Exam. This year, 59 students from Starr’s Mill earned recognition for their stellar performances on the exam.

Ximena Bejarano, Staff Writer

Every year, over 100,000 students throughout the nation sit down to take the National Spanish Exam, an online assessment intended to measure students’ abilities and overall knowledge in the Spanish language.

Students at the Mill were among the thousands of students who participated in this year’s examination. Unlike the overwhelming majority of test takers, however, Starr’s Mill students were not only declared as gold medalists for their stellar performance on the exam, but also received the highest scores in the state of Georgia.

Classroom Experience

  • Spanish II – freshman Virginia Jackson – 1st place
  • Spanish II – freshman Jilliana Rae Magat – 6th place
  • Spanish III – sophomore Sarah Dorr – 3rd place
  • Spanish III – sophomore Blythe Terry – 3rd place
  • Spanish IV – junior Marleena Tamminen – 1st place
  • Spanish IV – junior Elena Wernecke – 4th place
  • Spanish IV – junior Erin Rathje – 5th place

Outside Experience

  • Spanish III – junior Marissa Hollingsworth – 1st place


  • Spanish IV – junior Valeria Benavides – 3rd place
  • Spanish V – senior Brigitte Chavarri-Ricra – 1st place

This year’s results have undoubtedly secured success for the Mill’s foreign language department. “I believe we did as well, if not better, on this year’s results,” Spanish teacher and department chair Laura Alldredge said.

Alldredge believes that the large amount of students who performed well on the exam this year strongly indicates the quality of education taught at Starr’s Mill. “Our results show that we, as a primarily Spanish department, do an excellent job of teaching the national standards every year,” Alldredge said.

More importantly, however, they substantiate the type of student that can be found at Starr’s Mill: hardworking and motivated to learn. “The students that do well on the exam tend to be the ones that have done a good bit of studying on their own to be prepared for the exam,” Alldredge said. “The fact that we had so many state winners and students that earned gold, silver, and bronze medals shows that we have some very dedicated students here.”

Starr’s Mill earned nine gold, nine silver, and 11 bronze distinctions for a total of 29 awards, the highest amount of any school in Fayette County. An additional 30 students also received honorable mentions, making a total of 59 students earning recognition for their performance on the exam out of 76 that took the test.