Destrehan valedictorian: Ava Rockefeller

Ava Rockefeller knew she might have been in the running to be Destrehan High School valedictorian, but the news still left her somewhat stunned. 

“I got a call from my mom, them Mr. Madere (Destrehan principal Jason Madere) started talking … I was silent for about 10 seconds. I didn’t know what to say,” Rockefeller said. 

Rockefeller finished at the top of the Destrehan Class of 2024, capping off a quite successful high school tenure. While at DHS, Rockefeller was the President of Film Club, on Dr. Ken Oertling’s Superintendent Advisory Council, vice president of National English Society and part of Next GEN, FCA, WISE and Beta.

“I think, as excited as I was, my parents were probably even more excited and enthusiastic,” Rockefeller said. “My mom told my dad even before I could. She told my elementary school teachers.”

It was her teachers, in fact, Rockefeller credited for playing a big role in her classroom success. 

“I would say I definitely got really lucky with teachers,” Rockefeller said. “Especially my English teacher (D’Otta Sniezak). I’ve taken five of her classes and she’s gotten to know me well, and she pushed me and gave me emotional support when it was hardest. She kind of motivated me to put all my effort into every assignment, keep going and study harder.” 

Another key was organization. Rockefeller made a road map of sorts each day to ensure everything got done.

“I made a to-do list so I could focus on whatever needed to be done, whether that was for class, or meetings for clubs I was part of, or picking out a movie for film club or planning the service hours I needed, to keep myself on track,” she said. 

Rockefeller earned accolades last year after she posted a perfect score of 36 on the ACT, a score reached by just one percent of all high school students. That also put her on the radar for colleges around the country. 

“There was definitely a lot more attention after that,” Rockefeller said. “It made me proud.”

The school she ultimately chose was Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, where Rockefeller plans to study architecture. 

“I’ve loved it since I was younger … I was always very interested in art and math, and my talented art teacher kind of put that out there as an interesting career choice,” Rockefeller said. “I talked to some architects I know … it’s been the plan for the past few years.”

Samford felt right to Rockefeller upon her first visit there. 

“It was very different from some other schools I applied to … I have family in Birmingham, so that was a plus. The staff there is so personable and welcoming. I didn’t feel like a test score, I felt like a person with them,” she said. 

As one might guess would be the case for the president of the Destrehan film club, Rockefeller is an avid fan of the big screen. 

She’s also a big fan of helping others. Rockefeller is very active volunteering with her church, especially as a classroom helper for Vacation Bible School, and strong in her faith, calling it “why I do everything I do.”

Rockefeller was awarded the ROARS award for her senior class and also was a National Merit Scholarship recipient.


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