Eighteen standout young people will come to Baton Rouge from all over the state this Tuesday but three will leave that day as Louisiana students of the year.
The winners for elementary, middle and high schools will be announced Tuesday night during a reception at the Louisiana State Museum.
“We want to congratulate these exemplary students, as well as their families, teachers, principals, and districts,” State Superintendent of Education John White said when the 18 finalists names were announced last month.
“These students once again prove that our schools are effectively educating Louisiana’s youth.”
The closest geographically is Anthony Dupont, a fifth-grader at Central Intermediate School in Central, just 15 miles northeast of downtown Baton Rouge. He is the only student from the greater Baton Rouge area competing Tuesday.
“God blessed me. It’s amazing. It’s a great honor,” said the 11-year-old. “I don’t even have to win either, but it’d be nice.”
Like all of the other finalists, Dupont had to win first at his school level and progress from there.
Last month, he competed at the regional level against fifth graders from East Baton Rouge to St. Tammany parishes. He had already prepared a lengthy portfolio. The day of the competition he had to write an essay on the spot and sit down for an interview with strangers. On Tuesday, he will have do it all again.
Dupont, however, is keeping calm.
“As soon as you think, it’s gonna be scary and then it’s not, you’re like, ‘I don’t have to be worried,’ ” he said.
Anthony is the son of Brandon and Megan Dupont and is the brother of Rece, 8, and Aubrey, 6. Like many students who compete for this honor, he’s good at many things, though spelling is not his forte. Also, he has one occupation he plans to avoid.
“My mom told me I’ll never be a doctor because I’m squeamish at the sight of blood,” Dupont said. “So I knocked down one there.”
The Caddo and St. Tammany Parish school systems produced the most finalists, two each. Other finalists come from well-known cities such as Houma, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and New Orleans, but also from smaller towns such as Golden Meadow and Columbia.
Six students each will be competing in the elementary, middle and high school categories. Fifteen students attend public schools, while three attend private schools. The judges will be looking at signs of academic achievement, leadership skills, character, and service to school and community.
The regional finalists are as follows:
Ceara Johnson, South Highlands Magnet Elementary School, Caddo Parish
Abbie McCann, Union Central Elementary School, Caldwell Parish
Alana Fournet, LeBleu Settlement Elementary School, Calcasieu Parish
Anthony Dupont, Central Intermediate School, Central Community schools
Megan Chaisson, Golden Meadow Upper Elementary School, Lafourche Parish
Christopher De Lara, St. Bernadette School, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
Safa Michigan, Caddo Middle Magnet School, Caddo Parish
Mason Nichols, West Ridge Middle School, Ouachita Parish
Sarah Beth Cagle, Edgar Martin Middle School, Lafayette Parish
Chase LeMaire, Fontainebleau Junior High School, St. Tammany Parish
Injee Hong, Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies, Jefferson Parish
Brooke Badeaux, Sts. Leo-Seton School, Diocese of Lafayette
Madeline Wagnon, Captain Shreve High School, Caddo Parish
Margaret Manning, Neville High School, Monroe City Schools
Brandon Rodgers, Beau Chene High School, St. Landry Parish
Jon Mitchell, Pearl River High School, St. Tammany Parish
William McGrew, Benjamin Franklin High School, Orleans Parish
Tristan Bagala, Vandebilt Catholic High School, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux