Chaffee: A STAR with no bounds

By Greg Gelpi

See Pages 13-14 for additional STAR Student stories and photos.

The numbers say it all. His first attempt on the SAT produced a mere 1,530 and his second "boosted" his score to a 1,540. Keep in mind a 1,600 is perfect.

John Ryan Chaffee, Jonesboro High STAR student, worked four years to rise to the top three in his class and is now the top student in Clayton County. Chaffee had the highest SAT score of any STAR student in the county.

The Clayton County Chamber of Commerce recognized Chaffee as the Clayton County STAR Student of the Year Wednesday.

The honor was based on his SAT score and being in the top 10 percent of his class as compared with the other seven STAR students in the county. The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition is a program of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation.

"It's something I looked forward to throughout high school," Chaffee said. "The first time I took (the SAT) I got a 1,530 without really trying."

Chaffee said his success didn't come over night and didn't come by cramming. He said learning bit by bit during his four years he sought to earn this honor.

Always looking ahead, he flew to Los Angeles Saturday for an interview with officials at the University of Southern California. He plans to study business at USC or Emory University, "whichever gives me the most money."

"I've always been intrigued by the financial stuff, which goes back to math," Chaffee said. Math is his strong suit, an area that his math teacher finds hard to teach him.

The challenge is finding a way to challenge Chaffee, Matt Trucks, who Chaffee chose as his STAR Teacher, said.

"It is not always bad when the student passes the teacher," Trucks said. "We won't go into my SAT score. It's the biggest compliment you can get."

Trucks has known Chaffee for most of the student's life, working summers cutting Chaffee's grass for a little extra money.

"It's an awesome honor," he said of being named the STAR Teacher. "The only thing I can relate it to is the honor awarded to actors voted on by actors."

He said an award is more rewarding coming from those he has taught. It "really, really means a lot."

Chaffee called Trucks "hard, but fair," adding that he prepared him for life after high school and life into college.

"Part of the reason I'm here is to teach them calculus and AP (advanced placement) courses," Trucks said. "The other part is to prepare them for college."

Chaffee will be the chief executive officer of a Fortune 500 company, his STAR teacher said.

"He has no bounds," Trucks said. "It's not what I say. It's what he gives back that is scary."

To his credit, Chaffee was also the captain of the Jonesboro High soccer team his junior and senior years, as well as a member of Clayton County championship math team his freshman and sophomore years.