East Baton Rouge Parish School System Names Its Students of the Year
- February 13, 2009
They are the cream of the crop – the best of the best. That’s why East Baton Rouge Parish School System (EBRPSS) Superintendent Charlotte Placide is so proud to call them the district’s 2009 Students of the Year.
Sixty-five students throughout the School System sent in applications, and nine candidates were chosen as finalists. Of those, three were honored yesterday, February 12, and received an EBRPSS Student of the Year 2009 Award (one for each level – elementary, middle and high schools). The winners are: Catherine Zhou, a fifth grader at Westdale Heights Academic Magnet School; Grace Leyrer, an eighth grader at Westdale Middle School; and Brandon Bark, a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School.
Zhou makes straight A’s on her report card and is involved in a number of extracurricular activities. Her parents are from China and came to America to study advanced science and technology more than 20 years ago. “My parents always told my brothers and me that we could dream anything in this great country and have greater opportunities,” she wrote in her application essay.
In the future, Zhou wants to become a scientist and cure illnesses. But for now, she is content with her school life and work supporting the local food bank, wildlife conservation and impoverished children who need book donations. “I know for sure I will be a good, brave person and community leader who will do the right things to fight for a better future for mankind,” she wrote in her essay.
Zhou has a number of titles and awards under her belt: magnet school Ambassador, K-Kids volunteer, class representative on the student council, Ocean Commotion presenter, second place overall winner in the DeBose National Piano competition, finalist in the Louisiana Music Teachers Association Romantic Contemporary (piano) Tournament and many more. She believes she lives up to her Chinese name, Kaixuan, which means triumph.
Leyrer also has a stellar academic record and active extracurricular life. She joined the Louisiana Jr. String Ensemble via the Baton Rouge Symphony in the second grade. She soon entered the School System’s Gifted and Talented Program and participated in the Duke TIP Talent Search. In third grade, Leyrer began volunteering with the Mid-City Dance Project and performed with the Moscow Ballet in “The Nutcracker” the year after. Currently, she is taking high-school level classes in French 2, Algebra 1 and Physical Science and already has taken the SAT test.
After high school, Leyrer wants to study at Howard Medical School and the University of Cincinnati and become a pediatric cardiologist. Until then, she’ll continue writing (she’s finished her first novel) and working with the Junior Beta Club, Westdale Ambassadors, Future City Team and the Baton Rouge Little Theatre. “I hope that if I receive this honor I can be a role model for younger students,” Leyrer wrote in her application essay.
With an ambition to become a lawyer and a 2260 SAT test score, Bark is well on his way to success. He has been very involved in the Louisiana and National Junior Classical leagues and now serves as the national president. In addition, he is the senior class president at his high school. Bark recently implemented a service project to collect and donate more than 2,000 textbooks to underprivileged children in Alabama. A National Merit finalist, he also won first place several times in district rallies for playing the piano and tied for first place in the School System’s 2007 Spelling Bee. Last July, Bark studied law and philosophy at Oxford University with the Oxbridge Tradition Exchange Program.
Besides the overall System winners listed above, finalists for Student of the Year 2009 included: Elementary – Kelly Banh of Twin Oaks Elementary and Rachel Edmonson of Shenandoah Elementary; Middle – Preksha Chowdhary of Glasgow Middle and Michael Guillot of Sherwood Middle; and High – Devin Guillory of McKinley High and Tu Dao of Robert E. Lee High.
Neighbors Federal Credit Union, the event’s main sponsor, provided monetary awards and support for the event.
Principal Brister in Washington, D.C., to Accept McKinley Middle School’s Second Blue Ribbon Award
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Principal Herman Brister (pictured, left) and the school’s Teacher of the Year, Lynn Williamson (right), were in Washington, D.C., accepting McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School’s National Blue Ribbon Award from U.S. Department of Education’s Director of National Blue Ribbon Schools Program Aba Kumi (center). The event, which recognized some 314 schools from across the United States, was held at the Omni Hotel. Click herefor story.
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