DeRIDDER, La. -- The Beauregard Parish School Board recently recognized its 2018-2019 Beauregard Parish School District Students of the Year -- Jed Henry of South Beauregard Upper Elementary School, Victoria Mitchell of South Beauregard High School and Collin Cooper of Merryville High School -- during a regular board meeting March 14 in DeRidder, Louisiana.
"The Student of the Year program recognizes exemplary students for high-achieving academics, leadership skills, and community and school involvement," said BPSB Superintendent Timothy Cooley. "The 2018-2019 Beauregard Parish Students of the Year epitomize the best qualities of the program, and we are honored to have them represent our parish as example of excellence."
Fort Polk Progress Chairman Michael Reese congratulated the students on their achievement, and thanked BPSB for taking the time to recognize them.
"These students have worked hard and gone above and beyond what is expected of them. They are extremely deserving of being selected as Students of the Year," Reese said. "We really appreciate the board taking the time to recognize academic excellence in its schools -- many of which serve a large population of military-connected students from Fort Polk."
District-level Students of the Year were chosen from students who had been selected as Students of the Year for their respective schools in fifth (elementary), eighth (middle school) and 12th grade (high school) categories.
According to Kari Ifland -- who oversees the Student of the Year program for BPSB -- elementary and middle school candidates must have maintained a 3.5 grade point average (GPA) or higher over the course of three years. High school students had to have a 3.5 GPA or higher for four consecutive years to be eligible for the honor.
Ifland said students must also be actively involved and take on leadership roles in their schools and communities. They have to participate in a timed writing assignment and 15-minute interview at each level of the program, and submit a portfolio of their activities and involvement as well.
"Our parish-level winners will represent Beauregard Parish at the regional level program," Ifland said. "This year, we have three students who exemplify the best qualities of the Student of the Year program."
Henry was selected at the Elementary School Student of the Year, and expressed his excitement at receiving the award.
"It feels great!" Henry said. "I owe it to all of my coaches, teachers and family members and all to God -- because without any of them I wouldn't be here today winning at the parish level."
Rebecca Hollie, South Beauregard Upper Elementary School Assistant Principal, said Henry is deserving of the award because of his academic and personal achievements. This includes his 4.0 GPA, involvement in numerous athletic activities, perfect school attendance record since second grade, and community service.
"Jed Henry is an all-around all-star. He is a highly motivated and extremely dedicated young man who exemplifies the expectations of not only South Beauregard Upper Elementary, but of all of Beauregard Parish schools," Hollie said. "He blesses our hearts in so many ways."
Henry's mother, Bozica said she was grateful and proud of her son's accomplishment.
"His hard work paid off," she said. "It's a combination of great teachers and hard work."
Mitchell was awarded Middle School Student of the Year.
"It feels like a major accomplishment because when I was in elementary like Jed, I was not able to make it to the parish level," Mitchell said. "And to just be here with these amazing people, I just feel very accomplished knowing that I met my favorite goal."
Joey Bartz, South Beauregard High School principal, spoke of Mitchell's achievements and dreams for the future. Bartz said Mitchell is a kind and compassionate straight-A student who is active in Student Council, Junior Beta Club and band. He said her future plans are to attend Louisiana State University initially, then move on to Harvard Law School, University of California, Los Angeles or Stanford University in hopes of becoming a lawyer or surgeon.
"We could not be prouder of having her represent us," Bartz said.
Her father, Jason, emphasized how happy he was that his daughter receiving this honor.
"She's worked really hard her whole life. I don't know how she keeps up with everything that she does," he said. "I'm really proud."
Cooper was chosen as the High School Student of the Year, and said he felt humbled by the honor and motivated to continue working hard.
"I feel as if you should always push for higher goals," Cooper said. "There's always room for improvement."
Shawn Baggett, Merryville High School Principal, said Cooper will graduate from high school with 51 out of 120 hours needed for his biochemistry major through the Dual Enrollment Program. Baggett said he will attend LSU in the fall to complete his degree before moving on to medical school to become an anesthesiologist.
"He's an outstanding young man and is well-respected by teachers, staff and his peers," Baggett said.
Cooper's mother, Melody, was emotional as her son received his award.
"Words can't describe how proud I am," she said.