On Friday, May 17, the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) held its annual Senior Recognition Ceremony to honor the Class of 2019. The ceremony celebrated personal character, academic excellence and development of skills in each academic disciplines. Senior Lecturer of Mathematics and Computer Science Dave Andersen served as Master of Ceremonies, Senior Class President Rachel Judson of Lake Charles led the Pledge of Allegiance and Student Government Organization (SGO) President William Heitman of Baton Rouge delivered the welcoming address to his fellow classmates. “Tonight is a celebration of those who have never stopped asking and never stopped doing,” said Heitman. “Tonight is a celebration of the spirit of our school.”
At the end of his speech, Heitman was given an honorary gavel plaque for his leadership and service to SGO. Six seniors were inducted into the Robert Alost Hall of Fame. This award, named after the school’s founding director, is considered the highest honor bestowed upon LSMSA seniors, with students being hand-picked by a committee of faculty and residential life staff members. The six seniors were Marlies Carter of Madisonville, Colt Crain of Zachary, Jayaditya “Jojo” Deep of Natchitoches, Daniel Metzger of Slidell, Casey Tonnies of Bossier City and Benjamin Walker of Mandeville.
Two students, Juan Cecchini of Denham Springs and Esther Seo of Bossier City, received the Spirit of LSMSA award. This award recognizes students who best exemplifying the pillars of LSMSA school spirit, demonstrating hand-work, perseverance, service, involvement and camaraderie. Judson, along with Hadley Hines of Baton Rouge, received the Sharon Sturdivant Williams Praecellemus Award. Named after one of the founding members of LSMSA’s administration, these two seniors were selected as best representing the school’s motto, “We Shall Excel.” The Marvin Lockhart Work Service Award, which was developed in memory of one of LSMSA’s charismatic former employees, was presented to Manjistha Lakhotia of Lafayette and Ishika Patel of Many. Students who receive this are seen as illustrating selflessness, dedication, dependability and an unrelenting desire to help out their peers and those in their community.
Lakhotia was also the winner of the Eric Candell Excellence in Physics Award. The award, created in memory of a 1987 graduate, is granted to a student who has developed considerable mastery in the subject of Physics. In addition to a plaque, she received a $100 check gifted by the Candell family. Collin Serigne of Cut Off received the Caroline Dorman Scholar Award, which is gifted to a student who demonstrated excellence in biology and related disciplines. The award was named after a local iconic conservationist and journalist who helped establish the Kisatchie National Forest in Central Louisiana. A new award, the Executive Director’s Above and Beyond Award, was presented to Caroline Adkins, who, among other accomplishments, was responsible for applying for a grant to bring an indoor observation hive to campus.
It is one of only a few hives located on a high school campus throughout the state. Each major discipline—Creative and Performing Arts, Math and Computer Science, Humanities, Languages and Science—granted Excellence Awards to seniors who best epitomized those individual departments. Each department also introduced a chosen Gonfaloniere, or “flag bearer,” who was deemed to embody excellence in that discipline. These students were privileged to carry the Gonfalon for their respective department at the Commencement Ceremony procession. Christopher Comeaux of Covington received the honor of being the Gonfaloniere for the Creative and Performing Arts Department. Lily Orgeron of Lockport was chosen to represent the Humanities Department.
Judson was selected to hold the Languages Gonfalon. Jordan Byrd of Denham Springs was chosen to represent the Math and Computer Science Department. Lastly, Crain was chosen as the Sciences Department’s Gonfaloniere. Following all of the awards, each senior presented their college choice on stage. Altogether, 56 percent of the Class of 2019 will attend universities in-state, 44 percent will attend schools across the country, two students will study abroad and one student, Ryleigh Scott of the Shreveport, elected to serve in the United States Marine Corps. The ceremony concluded with a hilarious and heartfelt closing speech by Amaya Young titled “The Start of Something New,” in which she compared her experiences at LSMSA to the popular TV movie “High School Musical.”
“Yes, it’s the end, but it’s also the beginning. In High School Musical 3, their time at East High is over, but now they can look forward to college—new people, new experiences. That’s what I want for you all. Sure, I’ve never met a Troy Bolton that’s a basketball player, singer, actor, dancer, popular, rich and able to get into the best colleges without even trying, but I met some of my closest friends, made some pretty fantastic memories and we all got into some pretty good colleges. Thank you all for contributing to some of my best years, and remember, we’re all in this together.”
LSMSA is accepting applications for the 2019-2020 school year. To apply, visit www.LSMSA.edu/apply.