||Evan Shelton | Photo by Rick Smith, VPSB
LEESVILLE, La. - For Leesville Junior High School eighth-grader Evan Shelton, succeeding academically is important.
"I really want that success for myself," Shelton said. "I want to have a good education so I can get a good career, and also just do well in the world."
Shelton, 14, has already hit many milestones in his academic journey in the Vernon Parish School District in Vernon Parish, Louisiana.
He has a 4.0 grade point average; has been to the State Social Studies Fair five times; is an assistant student teacher for the Leesville Maker Space Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) class at the Vernon Parish Library; and was selected as the 2019 district-level middle school Student of the Year.
"That was very important to me," Shelton said. "Not only does it allow me to be an example for my school and for Vernon Parish, but also it kind of feels good to know that all the things I've done throughout the years have gotten recognized in this achievement."
He said he's received a lot of support from his teachers and school to get to this point.
"All of my teachers are very helpful. When students ask questions, they don't usually put them down about it. Instead, they tend to work with us and have a hands-on approach to show us a certain method on how to do things so we can use them for future reference," Shelton said. "They encourage us. They're always telling us to do our best, and I feel like they give us the tools and knowledge needed to do what we need to do. "
Attributing his success to his work ethic, Shelton said he has worked hard for his achievements.
"I was always told and taught to put forth my best effort in everything I do--even when it's really hard or really simple," he said. "As long as I do my best, that's what is really important to me."
His mother, Tammy, expressed her joy on her son's accomplishments.
"He takes everything that he learns seriously," she said. "He's a really good kid, and we're very proud of him."
Shelton is also a military-connected student. His father, Willie, is a military retiree from Fort Polk and works at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital on the installation. Shelton is a Junior Student 2 Student program member at his school, which entails welcoming new military-connected students and easing their transition to a new school.
"It's an honor to represent the military community as a thriving student," Shelton said.
Looking to the future, Shelton has big dreams. He would like to attend a technology-oriented college, like Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Louisiana Tech University, or the Air Force Academy and pursue a degree in electrical, mechanical or software engineering. He would like to work at NASA one day.
"I've always had an interest in technology and I'd like to use it to help others," he said.
Reflecting on being a student in VPSD, he expressed appreciation and is happy with what he has been able to achieve so far.
"I feel grateful for all the opportunities I've been given," Shelton said. "Hard work pays off. And through enough hard work and determination, you can learn and do anything."