Students of the Year bring diversified interests, outlooks to represent parish

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Benjamin “Reaves” Hogg holds an arrow crab while snorkeling in the British Virgin Islands on a dive at the Ship wreck RMS Rhone just off Salt Island near Virgin Gorda.

By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

Students of the Year for Natchitoches Parish are Bryan Chen, fifth grade, Natchitoches Magnet; Benjamin “Reaves” Hogg, eighth grade, NSU Middle Lab; and Jon Tucker Henderson, senior, NCHS. Aside from their academic success, these young men have a wide range of interests, activities and are the epitome of a role model for their peers. Each contributed their successes in school, and life, to their parents, family, teachers and their faith. All are personable and engaging, but beyond that, they each have a unique outlook on the world around them.

Reaves Hogg with his pets, Scarlet, Roux and Bonnet Bleu

The Times asked for comments from principals and family to get a better look into who each young man is as a person. Hogg is the son of Dr. Ben and Jamie Hogg. His mother said Reaves has three “fur siblings” named Scarlet (5), Roux (12) and Bonnet Bleu (10). The dogs are Vizslas. The Vizsla is a versatile, red-coated gundog built for long days in the field and are known for being affectionate, gentle and energetic. Hogg also loves to scuba dive. “We are divers and always wanted to be able to include him in our excursions. So, when he turned 8 we signed him up to be a Scuba Ranger, a now international youth scuba program that was started by Paul Oberle in Shreveport (Scuba Ventures and The Swim School). He was able to graduate to open water at the age of 12,” Jamie said.

Ben LaGrone, principal at NSU Middle Lab School had this to say about Hogg. “The faculty and students of NSU Middle Lab School are thrilled to congratulate Reaves Hogg as the Natchitoches Parish middle school Student of the Year. Reaves is a model student who sets a positive example both in and out of the classroom. He is a member of the NSUM Drama Club, Junior Beta Club, a Duke TIP scholar, a devout animal lover and an adventurer. His quiet humility and easy smile make him well loved by all who encounter him. His intellect and work ethic show discipline and maturity beyond his years. Reaves Hogg truly lives up to the school’s motto of “Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be a Demon!”

“To say we are excited and proud, just doesn’t seem like enough. We are biased, but the Reaves we know is such a great kid. He is kind, gentle, humble, hardworking, interesting, creative, inquisitive and driven,” said Reaves’ parents. “It fills our hearts with pride to know that others see these traits in him as well.  The outpouring of congratulatory and supportive phone calls, text messages and Facebook posts have been heart warming to our family. We know Reaves doesn’t take this opportunity and honor lightly and will give it his all at the regional level in Ruston in February.  Our thanks go out to all involved in this program.”

Reaves understands this honor and recognized his competition in his statement. “Being named student of the year is amazing to me. I am very proud of myself because I competed against such strong candidates. I will try my hardest to represent Natchitoches well at the next level. I am also very grateful to be given the opportunity to do this.”

From left are Xinjia Chen, Andrea Chen, Bryan Chen, Lianzhi Feng and Albert Chen.

Bryan Chen puts family first and looks up to his dad, Xinjia, who immigrated from China to the United States to pursue his degree and live the American dream. The elder Chen is a professor at Northwestern State University. Bryan says he loves being outdoors and playing sports, on his own or on a team. He plays more than one musical instrument and is a member of his school’s robotics team.

“I’m honored for Bryan to be chosen for this year’s Student of the Year award. We are very proud of the achievements that he has made in this past year. We would like to thank his teachers, peers and the panel. We hope that he continues to strive for his best and contribute to the community. On behalf of Bryan, I would like to thank you all once again,” said his father, Xinjia Chen.

Bryan is also learning his parents’ culture. He can read and write Chinese.

Bryan Chen enjoys outdoor activities like basketball

His principal, Stephonie French, said, “The Natchitoches Magnet Mustang Family is excited and proud to recognize our very own Bryan Chen as the Natchitoches Parish fifth grade student of the year. Bryan is an excellent student who maintains his 4.0 average while playing piano, violin and participating in robotics. Bryan is a role model to our students, showing kindness and respect in every interaction he has.  We know that his charming personality and impeccable work ethic will represent Natchitoches Parish well! Great job, Bryan!”

Senior student of the year Jon “Tucker” Henderson is a competitive powerlifter on the Natchitoches Central team. He is also a gifted photographer, using his lens to capture the world from his own unique perspective.

Jon “Tucker” Henderson prepares to squat 495 pounds at a recent powerlifting meet. He is on the Natchitoches Central team and is ranked 10th in the state in his weight class going into the state competition.

NCHS Principal Bill Gordy said, “The faculty, staff and students at Natchitoches Central High School are very proud of Jon Tucker Henderson being named Natchitoches Parish High School Student of the Year. He has been a member of several organizations at NCHS. He is the kind of student that will work hard and get results. Jon has been a role model for classmates and underclassmen. I know him very well and cannot think of a more deserving senior at NCHS. The way he carries himself in everything he does makes me proud that he has been a student at NCHS. We hope he has much success in the future representing his family and the Chief traditions.”

Henderson is putting his college career on hold after graduation to follow his faith and serve as a missionary. “Being awarded the Natchitoches Parish Student of the Year has been a tremendous honor. I am extremely grateful to have been selected to represent both my school and my parish. I have worked hard throughout my high school career to not only excel in academics, but in my extracurricular activities as well. I have tried to be as involved in my school and community as possible while still making good grades, by participating in groups such as FCA, SGO, BETA and football. I have also competed in powerlifting and in numerous FFA and 4-H contests. Participating in Student of the Year has given me an opportunity to look back on all these amazing memories and accomplishments. It is a great feeling to have my hard work and dedication recognized, and I am extremely grateful to all the people who have made me who I am today, including my family, friends, teachers and church family. I would especially like to thank my parents, my grandparents, my best friend Nikki Skerlong and my English teacher Mrs. Lesa Thompson for everything they’ve done for me over the years. Last, but not least, I would like to thank everyone that was involved in the selection process for Student of the Year at the school and parish level for making this all possible.”