It seemed like much of St. Charles Parish crowded into a theater at AMC Elmwood 20 in Harahan last week as St. Charles Parish Schools announced the winners of the 2013 Student of the Year Awards.
The students of the year for fifth, eighth and 12th grades for each school had been announced weeks earlier, but this show was to decide which three students would be selected as the elementary, middle and high school students of the year.
Students at each grade level were judged by a panel that included a teacher, an administrator and a community representative. To qualify, students had to submit a portfolio of information, including a biography, a list of recognitions and awards and a list of activities in which they are involved.
The show started off with a humorous short film made by local students evoking the Star Wars movies and warning the crowd against cell phone usage during the main event, which was a film introducing the crowd to the 12 finalists. The film comprised of a short interview with each of the students asking them questions such as “Who is your biggest role model?” and “What would you like to be when you get older?”
Rachel Allemand, assistant superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment, served as the master of ceremonies. In speeches to the audience, School Board President Clarence “Sonny” Savoie and Superintendent Felecia Gomez-Walker praised not only the students who won and the others who were selected as finalists, but the school system as a whole.
The students below were chosen as St. Charles Parish students of the year.
Kevell Byrd, 5th Grade, Luling Elementary School
Kevell Byrd was named the elementary student of the year.
She is the daughter of Shantrell and Kevin Byrd and is a Luling resident.Byrd is an award-winning pianist, a clarinet player in the Luling Elementary Band, a girl scout and a Flipnastic participant. She is also a member of 4-H, Mt. Zion youth ministry, Mt. Zion youth choir and the Luling Elementary Beta Club. Byrd has been on the honor roll for three straight years and has picked up a number of academic awards including first place in the Young Author’s Contest for poetry. She has volunteered her time by baking and serving cupcakes at the St. Charles Parish Health Unit/Access Health Fair.
Byrd has set her sights on becoming the President of the United States as well as having a career in music.
Layne Carlson, 8th Grade, Harry Hurst Middle School
Layne Carlson was named the middle school student of the year.
She is the daughter of Melissa and Steve Carlson of Destrehan. Carlson is a nationally award-winning dancer, student dance teacher, actor, captain for the Runnerettes and mentor for childhood obesity. The Harry Hurst student has been on the principal’s list for five years straight. She has also served as a student ambassador, choir member, writer and director. For the past five years, Carlson has volunteered her time to help save the wetlands as part of Back to the Beach.
Carlson hopes to pursue a career in news broadcasting.
Derek Walker, 12th Grade, Hahnville High School
Derek Walker was named the high school student of the year. He is the son of April and Jerry Walker of Luling.
Walker is vice-president of the student council, president of the National Honor Society and trumpet section leader in the Hahnville High School marching band. He is a former baseball player and a varsity golfer. Walker has an impressive academic record and boasts a number of awards in academic competitions involving math, science and literature, including receiving the Academic Excellence Award from Dow for the past three years and being named Cox Student of the Week in 2012. He is also a tutor and People to People Leadership Ambassador and volunteers his time through the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Habitat for Humanity, Knights of Columbus and by serving at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.
Walker would like to research cancer and AIDS after studying applied mathematics and biochemistry.