Parish honors top students

Published 12:04 pm Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pine High School’s Hunter Cooper and Franklinton Junior High School’s Kaniya Dillon were named 2014-2015 Washington Parish Students of the Year during Thursday night’s Washington Parish School Board meeting.

Each high school in the parish selected a senior, while each junior high selected an eighth-grade student to represent the school at the parish level competition. At both the school level and parish level, the Guidelines for Selection of Candidates for the Louisiana Students of the Year Awards Program were used to select winners. The four categories for selection included cumulative grade point average, a portfolio of supporting documents, writing samples and interviews with the judges.

Winners at the high school level included Franklinton’s Trista Galivan, Mount Hermon’s Karla Martin, Varnado’s Zoe Busby and Pine’s Cooper.

Junior high school winners included Mount Hermon’s Emily McElveen, Pine’s Sydney Thomas, Varnado’s Christian Mizell and Franklinton’s Dillon.

Each winner received plaques for their accomplishments. Cooper did not attend the ceremony as he playing baseball for the school team.

Most of the students have earned dual enrollment credits for college. Cooper scored a 30 on his ACT and has maintained a 4.0 GPA since junior high. Pine Principal Jennifer Thomas said Cooper planned to pursue engineering in college.

Dillon is Student Council president, an All-American scholar and plays AAU basketball.

“All of you are winners,” Washington Parish Superintendent Darrell Fairburn said. “We know it takes a lot of hard work to accomplish what you all have.”

District 1 School Board member Dan Slocum said the meeting was special.

“It’s the best meeting of the year when we recognize these students,” Slocum said. “They’re the cream of the crop.”

“I am proud of what we saw tonight with these students,” District 4 representative John Breland said.

In other business, the School Board authorized withdrawal privileges for recently hired Varnado High School Principal Jennifer Beninato and terminated withdrawal privileges for Renee Burris and Polly Thigpen. Burris was acting principal and Thigpen was acting vice principal before Beninato was hired roughly three weeks ago.

The board recognized Burris and Grant Gerald. Gerald was also acting principal at Varnado. Both have resumed their duties at the Central Office.

Board members also voted to adopt a motion to advertise for bids for the purchase of bakery products, milk and other food and non-food supplies for the School Lunch Program for the 2015-2016 school year.

Fairburn noted the graduation rate for all Louisiana high school students rose for the fourth straight year in 2014. The state reached 74.6 percent. The graduation rate for Washington Parish was 84.2 percent, up from 81.7 percent. Washington Parish was among the top 10 increases in the state.

Fairburn also reminded board members to spread the word and oppose SB 85, which seeks to reduce or eliminate the inventory tax when it comes up for a vote. Fairburn said Washington Parish School District and Bogalusa City School District would lose approximately $698,561 combined.

Regarding personnel, the board accepted retirements effective May 22 from Enon teacher Jeannie Tate, Franklinton Elementary teacher Cherry Brown, Franklinton Junior High teacher Regina Meyerchick, Mount Hermon teacher Linda Fortenberry, Pine School teacher Karl Mann and Franklinton High School Lunch Manager Carol Johnson. Mount Hermon counselor Deborah Burris and Mount Hermon custodian Donice Thomas retire on June 30.

Personnel whose resignations were accepted by the board include special education teacher Adam Lockwood, Enon Elementary teacher Karen Ballard, Franklinton Junior High special education teacher Megan Adkins, Franklinton School bus attendant Loralee McClendon, Pine custodian Tammy Lambert, Pine special education teacher Emily Stuart, Pine teacher Catherine Tall and Varnado High School custodian Elaine Morris.