All the hard work paid off.
“It’s definitely been a goal of mine to be valedictorian since day one as a freshman,” Destrehan High School class of 2022 graduate Kailie Carrigee said. “The way I found out that I got it is when Mr. Madere called me. I had just finished my AP Calculus exam and I was exhausted and sitting at my house. He said he was just letting me know that all of my hard work had paid off. It was a really rewarding feeling to know that all my work had been recognized.”
Carrigee said her dad was actually the first family member to find out the good news.
“My dad called me and told me, ‘If you get a call from a random number make sure you answer it,’” she said laughing. “There was a plethora of qualified candidates. I knew it was going to be a tight race, but I knew I always strived for excellence, and I knew I had a great shot.”
In the fall Carrigee will head to Louisiana Tech University on a full National Merit Scholarship. Achieving the honor of becoming a National Merit Scholar was something she worked extremely hard for, Carrigee said.
“I always wanted to achieve it, but it became a difficult task when the pandemic happened,” she said. “I basically spent almost every day in the pandemic studying … I’m a very self-motivated student.”
At LA Tech Carrigee will major in biomedical engineering and perform as part of the college’s dance team – The Louisiana Tech Regal Blues.
Carrigee’s years at DHS were filled with dancing, as well as a bevy of other activities, awards and accomplishments. She danced for four years on the Desty Darlings Dance Team, serving as the captain during her senior year and the co-captain her junior year. During her senior year the team won the national championship in the small national gameday category – a first in the school’s history.
Carrigee was a four-year member of the Interact Club and Fellowship of Christian Students, and served a year as vice-president of each. She was also the media officer of the Fellowship of Christian Students. During her first and only year on the National Honor Society, Carrigee served as the club’s vice-president.
Carrigee also participated as a Norco Elementary School Student Mentor and as a member of the National English Honor Society, Southeast Louisiana Youth Council, Wildcat Mentors team, Student Council, Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council and Newsletter Club. She served as various leadership positions in many of the clubs.
She was the Senior Class President, Junior Class President, Sophomore Class President and Freshman Senator, as well as a part of the school district’s Gifted and Talented Program.
Carrigee, an advanced Studies Student, has also been a competitive dancer for Kelli’s Kreative Dance for the past decade.
Volunteerism has been a huge part of Carrigee’s life. She has completed service hours as an assistant teacher at Kelli’s Kreative Dance and at the Matthew 25:35 Food Pantry, Senior Citizen Christmas Dinner, Alligator Festival, Little Red Church Festival, Luling Living Center, New Sarpy Elementary School, Toys for Tots, various sporting events at Destrehan High School, New Generations Forum, Inclusive Prom at Ormond Plantation, Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, parent teacher conferences and back to school nights, Thanksgiving basket drives, Archbishop Rummel Summer Day Camp and Louisiana Youth Seminar.
Additionally, each year Carrigee turns her own birthday celebration into a way to raise money for charity.
“When I was 9 years old I came to the realization of how blessed of a life I lived and I wanted to help people who needed food and clothes and shoes and those basic things that people take for granted,” she said. “It kind of took off from there.”
Carrigee has collected donations for Children’s Hospital, Coreluv, Wounded Warriors, St. Charles Parish Head Start, Matthew 25:35 Food Pantry, R.K. Smith Middle School, What You Give Will Grow and Second Harvest Food Bank through her birthday drives.
And while she is excited about launching into her college journey, Carrigee said she knows there will be huge changed ahead.
“It’ll be an adjustment to not see those same faces every day through the halls of Destrehan,” she said. “I just want to give a sincere thank you to all of my teachers and parents and family and friends who helped me get to this point. This achievement was not mine alone … I want to recognize all of the efforts of everyone who helped me get here.”