Union County High School recently announced that Mahlon Page, Vanessa West and Cameron Woods have been named Union County’s 2021 I-STAR students.

Indiana Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition (I-STAR) students are selected by a local committee from senior class applicants in the top 10 percent of the class.

The selected students then have the opportunity of selecting the teacher (K-12) who has made an outstanding contribution to the student's individual and scholastic development. Once the selection is made, the students have the opportunity of informing the teachers of their selection.

This year’s I-STAR students selected high school teachers Shannon Hill, Cindy Toschlog and Patrick Tafelski.
English teacher Shannon Hill was selected by Mahlon Page. Vanessa West chose Science teacher Cindy Toschlog and Cameron Woods selected social studies teacher Patrick Tafelski.

Mahlon Page
Shannon Hill

Mahlon is the son of Frank and Sigrid Page. He has participated in a variety of activities throughout high school and is a three-sport athlete. He loves orienteering and is ranked in the top 10 in the nation. He also created a volunteer tutoring group and has tutored for hundreds of hours. In addition, he has been involved in many citizenship and community service activities and has earned more than 40 academic credits.

Mahlon is Union County’s 2021 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship recipient which plays a vital part in assisting him attain his goal of becoming a collegiate professor.
Shannon Hill is Mahlon’s I-STAR Educator because she challenged him more than any other teacher.

“She pushed me to become a better writer and person,” Mahlon said. “She made English challenging and fun through her hands-on approach.”

Mrs. Hill is a Union County High School alumna who earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Indiana University East. She is a 23-year teacher in the Union County College Corner School Corporation, teaching English 11 and Advanced Placement English Language and Composition. She also serves as co-sponsor for National Honor Society, coach of the FFA Horse Judging Team, president of the teacher’s association and is a member of numerous committees.

“Mrs. Hill lives her life with purpose, love and compassion, always seeking to make her students’ lives the best they can be,” Mahlon said. “Mrs. Hill is an inspiration.”

Vanessa West
Cindy Toschlog

Vanessa is the daughter of Rod and Laurie West and enjoys getting involved as much as possible.

She is a member of National Honor Society, 3-year class president and Unified Sports Club member. She ran high school varsity cross country and track four years, earning TEC championship honors, semi-state qualifier and scholar athlete.

She is also a 10-year 4-H member who served as president of the Horse and Pony Club and is also a member of the 4-H Junior Leaders.
She has more than 200 community service hours from participating in church activities including mission trips.

“Mrs. Toschlog was my Biology II teacher first, a class I loved so much I decided to take anatomy just so I could have her as a teacher for another year,” Vanessa said. “I have always had a passion for math and engineering but Mrs. Toschlog’s classes have inspired me to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering at Pudue University.”

Biology teacher Cindy Toschlog is in her 25th year teaching at Union County High School. She teaches Biology II, Anatomy/ Physiology and is the district librarian.

Mrs. Toschlog received her bachelor’s degree from Wright State University and her master’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. Mrs. Toschlog resides in Richmond with her husband, David and daughter, Morgan.

Cameron Woods
Patrick Tafelski

Cameron is the son of Brian and Jennifer Woods. He is a member of the boys golf team, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, FFA, National Honor Society and Student Council. The majority of his summers are spent at the golf course either working or improving his game. He also enjoys spending time with his family, hanging out with friends or watching sports. His future plans include attending Purdue University to study Engineering in hopes of one day becoming a patent attorney.

“As a teacher, Mr. Tafelski is enthusiastic and strives to make his students learn more than simply the notes that are on the screen,” Cameron said. “Outside of just being a teacher, Mr. Tafelski displays what it means to be involved within the community and school culture.”

Patrick Tafelski is in his 33rd year as a professional educator. He has spent the last 22 years at Union County High School, first as the high school athletic director and then returned to the classroom where he continues to teach United States History and assists in the Alternative Education Program. He previously taught and coached at Franklin County and in his hometown of Mishawaka, Indiana.

He is a graduate of Purdue University where he earned his degree in secondary education. He later received his master’s from Indiana University also in secondary education.

He has assumed the responsibility of organizing overseas trips for UCHS students we know as the “Union County World Travelers.” He also enjoys traveling, reading, golfing and spending his time with his wife and two sons.

“I have had many excellent teachers throughout my time at Union County, but none compare to Mr. Tafelski,” Cameron said. “I will forever remember his crazy stories and some of the one-liners that got me laughing every time. I hope in the future that I can live my life with the motivation, dedication and happiness that Mr. Tafelski presented to me.”

I-STAR Banquet
On March 11, I-STAR students and teachers from eight schools (Centerville, Connersville, Hagerstown, Franklin County, Lincoln, Rushville, Tri and Union County) will gather to share their selections at an honors banquet at Tri-High High School.

I-STAR Tradition
Union County’s I-STAR teachers will lead the procession of the UCHS Class of 2021 when they meet for the final time at commencement at Millett Hall on the Miami University campus in Oxford, Ohio, on June 6.