Central student calls state honor a blessing

Photo provided by Central Intermediate SchoolAnthony Dupont is one of 18 student of the year finalists in Louisiana who will be competing on Tuesday and the only one from the Baton Rouge area
Photo provided by Central Intermediate SchoolAnthony Dupont is one of 18 student of the year finalists in Louisiana who will be competing on Tuesday and the only one from the Baton Rouge area

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:

Grade 5

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

Grade 8

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

Grade 12

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