Apr 22, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. –  State education leaders tonight named the 2015 Students of the Year. The winners, one student from the elementary, middle, and high school levels, were announced during the annual Students of the Year awards ceremony at the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge. The event also recognized the 18 regional finalists for their achievements.

"These students, the winners and finalists, are some of the finest young people our state has produced. They are models of academic excellence and character," said State Superintendent John White. "They personify the potential that exists in young people throughout Louisiana. Their accomplishments show our students are as smart and as capable as any in America." 

The 2015 Students of the Year award winners are: 

Elementary School - 5th Grade 

Rhett Anthony Williams of Montegut Middle School in Terrebonne Parish - In addition to his outstanding achievements, Rhett is very active at Montegut Middle School and in his community. At school, Rhett is a member of the Student Council and 4-H Club and has served as 4-H Club president and class president. In his community, Rhett volunteers to help a close friend who is paralyzed due to adrenoleukodystrophy, has donated blankets to the Veteran's Home, planted cypress trees as part of coastal restoration and has been a Kids Day volunteer. Rhett is also a competitive athlete and plays football, baseball, basketball and Tai Kwon Do. He would like to become an attorney. 

Middle School - 8th Grade 

Ethan Laine Coker of Haynesville High School in Claiborne Parish - Ethan is a Duke TIP program medallion winner. He is an accomplished guitarist, has taught himself to play, and routinely plays at various community events and at his church. Ethan is very active in 4-H club, where he has won numerous regional, state, and national awards, and has served as president of his school's 4-H club for the past four years. Ethan is a very compassionate individual, and has volunteered his time to raise money for St. Jude and cystic fibrosis. His ambition is to attend college and major in biology or engineering. 

High School - 12th Grade 

Victor Wade Rushing of Live Oak High School in Livingston Parish - Victor is an accomplished musician, playing the piano since he was in first grade. He has received dozens of superior ratings and various honors at prestigious state and district music competitions. Victor is a member of Beta Club, Student Council, National Honor Society, National Society of High School Scholars, Mu Alpha Theta, Future Business Leaders of America, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and is the Senior Class and Student Council President and Chaplain for FCA. For the past four years, he has been a volunteer for the Special Olympics. Victor wants to study political science and business and enter the Marine Corps and earn a Juris Doctorate. 

The process for selecting the winners begins at the school level. All public and approved nonpublic elementary, middle and high schools across the state are asked to submit one candidate from 5th, 8th and 12th grade, depending on the grade configuration of the school. These students then compete with their peers at the district level and may advance to the regional competitions, where Regional Finalists are chosen. 

Each finalist then submits a portfolio and completes a written composition the day of the award ceremony. The selection committee also interviews the finalists to evaluate their communication and critical thinking skills. 

Each of the finalists receives a certificate noting their accomplishment, donated by the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents. The Students of the Year winners in each category each receive a trophy donated by the Louisiana School Board Association and a $50 check donated by Keep Louisiana Beautiful, Inc.    

For a complete list of the 2015 Regional Finalists, please click here.