Meet four Louisiana students who have risen to the top of their class this year through their academic performance, extracurricular activities and community involvement. One is a state-honored youth conservationist; another has written a book. Another is a model, and a fourth earned a perfect score on both the ACT and the SAT.
Connor Arthur, a 4-H’er and junior at Hornbeck High School in Vernon Parish, received the Youth Conservationist of the Year award from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation in March. Arthur was recognized at the Governor’s Conservation Awards banquet in Baton Rouge. It was his work with 4-H shooting sports, wildlife education and hunter safety that earned him the award. Arthur is a 4-H member-at-large in Sabine Parish. As a 4-H shooting sports ambassador, he helps organize shoots and educate youth about shooting safety.
Madelyn Smith, a sophomore from Lafayette studying natural resource ecology and management in the LSU College of Agriculture, spent 2016 photographing and collecting stories from Louisiana communities threatened by coastal erosion. The book that resulted from her work, Louisiana Gone, is filled with black-and-white images and essays that detail life along Louisiana’s vulnerable coastline. Smith is a 2017 recipient of the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, which is awarded to only 50 college sophomores and juniors in the country and recognizes a student’s commitment to issues related to the environment. As a Udall scholar, Smith traveled to Tucson, Arizona, this summer for a conference with other Udall scholars. Smith said her book is a call to action. “Our goal is to record a glimpse of what will be lost if we do not respond with haste to this crisis,” she said.
Bossier City senior Jasmine Nickolson-Edie was named Model of the Year at the Oneofakind Baton Rouge Fashion Week in February. “This was my first time to do OBRFW, my first fashion show experience ever, and it was an incredible feeling,” she said. Nickolson-Edie was torn between her two passions, basketball and modeling, until OBRFW wrapped. “Baton Rouge Fashion Week made me realize that my heart is in modeling. I did not realize how much I wanted to be a model until walking in these shows. I want to make a career out of this.” As the recipient of the Model of the Year Award, Nickolson-Edie receives a contract with Oneofakind Talent Inc., apparel from iME clothing, a cash stipend, and her own webpage on the OBRFW website (batonrougefashionweek.com) for one year.
Benjamin Franklin High School (New Orleans) senior Maanasa Narayanamoorthy was awarded a perfect score on both the ACT and SAT tests! A National Merit Finalist, Narayanamoorthy was also awarded an all-expense-paid study trip to Germany by the American Association of German Teachers. “This is an amazing accomplishment for any student, and we are so proud of Maanasa,” said Benjamin Franklin High School Head of School Dr. Patrick Widhalm. “Maanasa exemplifies the spirit of excellence here at Ben Franklin High School, and we can’t wait to see the amazing things she will accomplish in the future.”