Mar 28, 2012

BATON ROUGE, La. - Each year Louisiana recognizes extraordinary students through the Student of the Year awards program, and today the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released the names of the 18 regional finalists who will compete for the state title.  The 18 regional finalists include one 5th grade, 8th grade, and 12th grade student from six regions and represent public and non-public elementary, middle, and high schools across Louisiana. The finalists and state winners for each of the three grades will be honored on April 18 during a ceremony in Baton Rouge.


"We want to congratulate these exemplary students, as well as their families, teachers, principals, and districts," State Superintendent of Education John White said.  "Through their academic success, community service, leadership, and character, these students are the best evidence of the promise of our next generation and reinforce the critical work that is taking place in our schools and classrooms each day. And we’re looking forward to honoring them in April."


Students are selected based on criteria that measure academic achievement, leadership skills, character, and service to their schools and communities.  All public schools, as well as approved non-public schools, were asked to submit one candidate from their student body to compete at the district level.  District-level winners advance to the regional competitions.  Regional selection committees also use portfolios of accomplishments created by each student, along with student writing samples and interviews, to assess the communication and critical-thinking skills of each candidate.  Prior to selecting the three state winners, the state selection committee will conduct interviews and review a writing sample from each of the regional finalists.


"This event, and the chance to highlight these remarkable students, has become one of the highlights of my year," Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Penny Dastugue said.  "These students are not only top-notch performers, but they remind us of the extraordinary capabilities of each of our children and inspire us to work even harder to ensure we give all our students the opportunity to reach their full potential through education."


The finalists are as follows:

Grade 5 
Georgia Hilburn, South Highlands Magnet Elementary School, Caddo Parish 
Kelsy Hope Cross, Columbia Elementary School, Caldwell Parish 
Kaylie Bonin, Jefferson Island Elementary School, Iberia Parish 
Jessica Robinson, Copper Mill Elementary School, Zachary Community Schools 
Bennett Rine, Bissonet Plaza Elementary School, Jefferson Parish 
Adeline Roemer, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School, Diocese of Baton Rouge

Grade 8
Samantha Hilburn, Caddo Middle Magnet School, Caddo Parish 
Michael Joseph Schaff, Good Hope Middle School, Ouachita Parish 
April Pruitt, Opelousas Jr. High School, St. Landry Parish 
Samhita Rao, Glasgow Middle School, East Baton Rouge Parish 
Cole Grieshop, Harry Hurst Middle School, St. Charles Parish 
Clifford Harris LeBlanc, St. Joseph School, Diocese of Shreveport

Grade 12
Matthew Martin, Calvin High School, Winn Parish 
Allen Kade Wilson, Jena High School, LaSalle Parish 
Ryan O’Neill Poche’, Erath High School, Vermilion Parish 
Arden Wells, Fontainebleau High School, St. Tammany Parish 
Jennifer Young Tu, Benjamin Franklin High School, Orleans Parish 
Alise Kristine Alexander, St. Joseph’s Academy, Diocese of Baton Rouge


For more information on the state’s Student of the Year awards program, please visit LDOE’s website. 


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