Starr Gibson

Starr Gibson, a senior at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St Louis Charter High School (CHS), recently received a 2013 Charter Excellence Award from the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS).

The 17-year-old was one of five charter high school seniors honored in the state at the INCS convention Dec. 2 and 3. The award also came with $1,000.

“I wasn’t sure if I’d get the award because there are a lot of charter schools in Illinois,” said Gibson, who has a 4.0 grade point average. “But I do work hard. Grades don’t come easy. I study about two hours every day after school.” Gibson added that she is working to be the class valedictorian.

“Starr is the absolute model of everything I think a student should be,” said Colin Neumeyer, CHS language arts teacher. “She has the greatest work ethic of any student I’ve been around. She’s thorough; and she really engages the activities.”

Bridget Nelson, teacher of English IV and women and literature, gave an assignment to her class. Students were instructed to write an essay about the book, “Things Fall Apart” by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe.

“Starr sent an email before the assignment was due,” Nelson said. “She said, ‘I’m attaching the beginning of two essays.’ And she asked me my opinion on which one to pursue.

“I never had a student do that before.”

Gibson has truly developed as a student and learner, Neumeyer said: “She’s not just working for a grade. She’s focused on learning and the process of learning.”

Gibson’s courses last semester included: pre-calculus and introduction to engineering and design, college and career readiness, honors English IV, women in literature and physical education. Her school activities include serving on the Principal’s Advisory Council and CHS Student Council. She is also senior class vice president and a member of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Club at CHS.

When Gibson came to the school as a freshman, a few students called her an “overachiever.” “But I didn’t let it bother me,” she said. “Hard work will pay off.”

Gibson, who has an ACT score of 21, has been accepted to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Tennessee State in Nashville, Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Lincoln University (Mo.) in Jefferson City and SIUE. The high school senior, who wants to be a dietician, has not made any final decisions as to which college she will attend.

“Starr is a prime example of a CHS student,” said Gina Washington, CHS director. “Her academics and 4.0 GPA speak for themselves. I also am impressed with her community service and church involvement.

 Washington continued by using a CHS slogan: “I can truly say that ‘failure is NOT an option’ for Starr!”

The mission of the SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School is to prepare students who are career-and college - ready upon graduation. To achieve this mission, the school and its staff will positively impact the educational and economic lives of East St. Louis youth through individualized instruction in core academic subjects, exploration of career interests and aptitudes, assistance in realizing students' talents, high academic goals and expectations that graduates will become competitive employees for the 21st Century. 

Summer marketing internship 

College students interested in gaining work experience in the fields of marketing, public relations, journalism and agricultural communication have until Feb. 28 to apply for summer internship positions with the Missouri State Fair.

Up to three interns will be hired for temporary, full-time employment within the Fair’s marketing office this summer. According to Missouri State Fair Director Mark Wolfe, the positions are paid and offer some limited benefits. 

An additional internship is being offered by the Youth in Agriculture (YIA) Committee for management of the annual Sale of Champions event. The person hired for this position will work Aug. 4-17.

“Interns can expect to be engaged in activities such as extensive press release writing, coordinating and executing special events and other communication-related experiences,” Wolfe said.

Application forms for the positions are available by sending an e-mail to A completed application, cover letter, resume and list of references are required and must be submitted to the Fair by Feb. 28. For more information about these positions, visit

The 112th Missouri State Fair, themed “Harvest the Fun!”, will be held Aug. 7-17 in Sedalia.

Kaplan University Career Fair 

Kaplan University’s St Louis campus is hosting its annual career fair providing networking and career opportunities for all members of the community. Over 25 local employers, including UPS, Waste Management, Starbucks, Hollywood Casino, St Louis County Police Department, McKesson, and Shop n’ Save will be present to talk about current job openings. Attendees are encouraged to bring copies of their resumes and dress appropriately for a job interview.

The Career Fair will be held 4-7 p.m. Thursday, January 23 at Park 270, 1807 Park 270, Suite 105, St Louis, MO 63146.

New Fulbright student program 

Undergraduate students looking for an exciting storytelling opportunity through National Geographic and the U.S. Department of State are encouraged to explore the options available through a new Fulbright Student Program. The application deadline for those interested is Feb. 28.

The National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship is open to U.S. citizens and provides students the chance to spend an academic year overseas engaged in digital storytelling in as many as three countries. Students chosen to participate in the program will tackle a globally significant social or environmental topic.

Fellowships are made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society.

According to the Fulbright website, “Fulbrighters will undertake an in-depth examination of a globally relevant issue, comparing and contrasting how that issue is experienced across borders. Using a variety of digital storytelling tools, including text, photography, video, audio, graphic illustrations and/or social media, Fellows will tell their stories, or the stories of those they meet, publishing their work on National Geographic media platforms with the support of National Geographic’s editorial team.”

Benefits of receiving the fellowship include funding for travel, as well as a stipend and health insurance, and instruction by National Geographic editors in digital storytelling techniques, such as blog writing, video production and photography.

Applications are being sought for the following themes: Biodiversity, cities, climate change, cultures, energy, food, oceans and water. More information is available at

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