|BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today released the names of 21 students selected as regional finalists in the state’s annual Students of the Year competition. The 21 students selected include one 5th, 8th and 12th grader from each of the state’s seven regions and represent public and non-public elementary, middle and high schools across Louisiana.
“The Department of Education applauds these 21 regional finalists for being recognized as some of the top students in Louisiana,” said State Superintendent John White. “This is a tremendous accomplishment, and we are proud of their hard work and leadership.”
The annual competition has multiple steps. First, all public schools and non-public schools are asked to submit one candidate from their student body. Students then compete with their peers at the school system level, and winners advance to the regional competitions.
At the regional level, students are selected based on criteria that measure academic achievement, leadership skills, character and service to their schools and communities. Regional selection committees also use student-made portfolios of accomplishments, along with student writing samples and interviews, to assess the communications and critical-thinking skills of each candidate.
Prior to selecting the three overall state winners, a state selection committee made up of K-12, higher education and community leaders also reviews the students’ portfolios and writing samples and conducts interviews with them.
This year’s finalists, by grade, include:
Mallory Byrd, Hayden R. Lawrence Upper Elementary School, Rapides Parish
Olivia Malmay, Mangham Elementary School, Richland Parish
Brenna Bernhardt, T.S. Cooley Elementary Magnet School, Calcasieu Parish
Collin Sprouse, South Walker Elementary School, Livingston Parish
Sriram Srigiri, Airline Park Academy for Advanced Studies, Jefferson Parish
Matthew Plaisance, St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
Richard “Ben” Blevins, Lusher Charter School, Advocates for Arts-Based Education Corporation, Orleans Parish
Ava LaCour, Rapides Academy for Advanced Academics and Virtual Learning, Rapides Parish
Breanna McDowell, Louisiana School for Agricultural Sciences, Avoyelles Parish
Nelly Chan, Grand Lake High School, Cameron Parish
Madeline Temple, West Feliciana Middle School, West Feliciana Parish
Kavia Mllik, Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies, Jefferson Parish
Ashley Green, Houma Christian School, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
Abigail Brown, Belle Chasse Academy, Belle Chasse Academy, Inc.
Hannah Berry, C.E. Byrd High School, Caddo Parish
Graham Grunsky, Sterlington High School, Ouachita Parish
David Spicer, Sulphur High School, Calcasieu Parish
Mary Barrow, West Feliciana High School, West Feliciana Parish
Kaylee Bourgeois, Lutcher High School, St. James Parish
Jacob Duplantis, E.D. White Catholic High School, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
Keyana Zahiri, Benjamin Franklin High School, Advocates for Academic Excellence in Education, Inc., Orleans Parish
The finalists will convene at the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge on April 10 for an awards ceremony and the announcement of the state Students of the Year winners from each grade level.