Three Muscogee County school students were all smiles Friday as Sheriff John T. Darr recognized them as Rising Stars.
"I love any opportunity I can get to be a positive influence for my peers," said Gabby Wilson, a senior honored from Northside High School. "I love it. I'm glad I could be part of this organization."
Joining Wilson on the plaza level of the Government Center were Katelyn Heggood of Arnold Magnet Academy and Lar'Koi Pierre of North Columbus Elementary. Each student was given a star and a bag full of items from more than 30 area businesses. They included free office supplies, meals at restaurants, ice cream treats and other gifts.
Darr said the Rising Star program is an opportunity to recognize young people who are good role models, mentors to friends and good examples in their community. It has been recognizing outstanding youth for about 18 months.
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"We do not talk about the negatives," Darr said. "This is 100 percent positive."
Darr said Gabby was nominated by the coordinator of engineering at Northside. She sets up and manages the student information network for a live broadcast each morning. She also works on the school paper and serves as cheerleader.
Katelyn, a sixth-grader, was nominated by her church, Hilton Terrace. She is active in the church music group, sings and plays piano at Arnold and is involved with the Columbus Ballet. She also helps her 15-year-old sister who has Down syndrome.
It was an honor she will always remember. "I feel wonderful," she said.
Darr said the school counselor nominated Lar'Koi for his efforts in working with the school safety patrol and tutoring other students who are having problems.
"I'm just so honored to be here," Lar'Koi said after the program.
When he finishes school, Lar'Koi said he hopes for a chance with the NFL playing football or the NBA on the basketball court. If neither sport works out, he wants to be a lawyer.