2009 Terrific Teen: Cody Starnes


Just do it” is a well-known Nike trademark and the personal mantra of Cody Starnes, a 12th grader at Independence High School. When asked how he maintains a 4.0 grade point average, he replies, “I try not to procrastinate. I just do it.”

Cody applies the same philosophy to his many community service projects. He works in partnership with his school’s P.E. teacher to help students with physical and mental disabilities; he also volunteers with autistic children. But his primary focus is the Special Olympics, which he became involved with in middle school when he assisted with the organization’s swimming event. As Syndie Fleener, director of Academy of International Studies, puts it: “Cody is an all around amazing young man! Not only is he an excellent student, but also he has a huge heart.”

His heart for the kids in Special Olympics has only grown with time. As a sophomore, he was searching for a community service project. “I found out that my school participates in Special Olympics at other schools. We got paired up and had buddies. That was a great day.” Ever since, Cody has made it a priority to visit the kids he met. As a junior, he persuaded the Independence Dream Team, of which he is a part, to focus on Special Olympics, ensuring that his school will become involved in the organization’s fall, winter and spring games.

In 2009, Cody was inducted into The Order of the Patriots, an Independence High School award honoring students who excel in leadership, service and character. “On top of all of this, he is a star baseball player,” adds Fleener. “Cody led the team last year in batting with a 328 batting average and 18 RBIs. He played outfield, catcher and second base, and he excelled at each position.” Cody, who began playing baseball when he was a toddler, is planning to attend Wingate University on a baseball scholarship. He’s hoping to get into the field of athletic training, a fitting endeavor for someone whose life slogan is “just do it.”