The Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce, together with the City of Natchitoches and Northwestern State University, hosted the inaugural Elite Scholarship Banquet May 8. High School Seniors from Natchitoches Central, St. Mary’s, Lakeview and Louisiana School for Math, Science & the Arts (LSMSA) were selected by school counselors based on their ACT scores, GPA and dual enrollment credits at Northwestern. LSMSA students had the added requirement of being a Natchitoches native. A points scale was used to select the highest achieving students, with two points given for an ACT score at or above a 24, one point given for a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and one point given for 12 or more hours of dual enrollment. All students with at least three points were invited to attend the banquet along with two parents or guests.
Mayor Lee Posey was a driving force in creating this event, hoping to model a similar program held in Desoto Parish. Posey stated, “We have some great kids that graduate from both our public and private school systems in Natchitoches, and we really wanted to come together as a community to applaud their efforts and encourage all students to strive for this level of academic excellence.”
The Education Steering Committee for the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce lead the effort to organize the event, which is in keeping with their recent push for higher academic standards across Natchitoches Parish. According to Committee Chairman Van Erikson, the objective of the event was three-fold: to acknowledge the outstanding high school careers of these students, to award scholarships with excess monies raised for the event, and to jumpstart a collaborative approach to education in Natchitoches Parish.
A keynote address and challenge to seniors was given by Kimberly Eckert, 2018 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year and NSU Alumna. Kimberly offered inspirational words of wisdom to attendees as well as congratulations to the students and their parents for their hard work. Another highlight of the evening was the scholarship balloon pop. Each student was handed a balloon at registration. One balloon contained a $1000 scholarship, and was awarded to Kengela Beard from Natchitoches Central High School. Seven balloons contained $500 scholarships, and the winners were Lucy Matchuska (LMSMA), Chandler Sarpy (Central), Dylan Bennett (St. Mary’s), Sarah Aviles (St. Mary’s), David Thibodaux (St. Mary’s), George Ingrish (St. Mary’s), and Taylor A. Johnson ( Natchitoches Central).
Principals, school staff, parents, and School Board members in attendance commented how nice the event was, with several stating that we should have been doing this for years. The Chamber Education Committee plans to build upon this event next year, encouraging students to strive for academic excellence, and encouraging the leaders in our community to support that initiative.
High School Seniors Selected to Attend Elite Scholarship Banquet
Lakeview: Adam Calder, Cadie Coleman, Emily Johnson, Malichi Lester, Madison McLaren, Norman Moreland, Terry Sullivan
LSMSA: Lauren Bartels, Albert Chen, Edouard Ferrell, Devon Mathews, LiZhang Matuschka, Reed Middendorf, Bryce Moulton, Tomas Parker, Adreanna Queen, Jake Stultz, Russell Stultz
NCHS: Brock Barrios, Kengela Beard, Jacob Bellow, Ethan Buckhalter, Annah Carnline, Trevor Chalker, Jessica Clark, Zach Daily, Kade Davis, Leah Deford, Vincent Ferreyros, Derilyn Flanagan, Joshua Fortenberry, Aaron Foster, Abbie Gandy, Brooklyn Hampton, Shaylynn Hargis, Steven Harris, Caitlyn Hassan, Garrett Hood, Adam Hudson, Rhegan Hymes, Veronica James, Taylor A. Johnson, Taylor B. Johnson, Kelsey Lacaze, Madison Lemoine, Maya Levo, Alaina Lewis, Lacy Martin, Kristin McQuillin, Makenzie Morgan, Kevin Nutt, Samantha Phillips, Brock Puryear, Kierstin Rachal, Shernarr Rice, Anna Robertson, Chandler Sarpy, Mikayla Scaife, Gabrielle Scarborough, Terra Schulze, Bradley Scott, Kennedy Sherman, Samantha Spillman, Carlie Sweeney, Markella Taylor, Brianna Tibbs, Tyler Tousek, Brian White, Seth Woodel, Emma Zachary
Saint Mary’s: Sarah Aviles, Dylan Bennett, Jeremy Friedel, Sarah Gilmore, Aaron Howell, George Ingrish, Madison Menou, Makenzie Methvin, Olivia Miller, Jay Parker, Ryan Sampite, David Thibodaux, Britney Turner, Lauren Vienne