Seven seniors present Distinction Projects during Blue and Gold Week

Distiction Project students complete a rigorous program of independent study under the guidance of faculty mentors.
The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts’s (LSMSA) Blue and Gold Week featured various events centered on student achievement. In addition to activities hosted by the School Activities Board, this year’s event featured the spring musical “The Apple Tree,” the Junior Ring Ceremony and Capstone and Distinction projects presented by some of the school’s seniors.

Students, who pursue graduation with Distinction, complete a rigorous program of independent study under the guidance of faculty mentors, which included self-motivated reading, research and creative exploration. All seniors who underwent the program were required to provide two public presentations of their work in front of attending faculty, students and guests.

Students completing Distinction Projects this year were Colt Crain of Zachary, Jojo Deep of Natchitoches, Juliet Flanagan of Pearl River, Madison Latiolais of Breaux Bridge, Lily Orgeron of Lockport, Collin Serigne of Cut Off and Casey Tonnies of Bossier City.

Colt Crain presented “Arabidopsis thaliana vs. Schrenkiella parvula: Determining Salt Tolerance Using Comparative Genomics and Analytics” and “Measuring the Energy Content of Different Food Wastes for Potential Use in Industry.” His first presentation offered a solution to producing new farmland in otherwise un-farmable territory through research of related plant-types. His second project offered a solution on how to convert food wastes into potential energy sources. Crain is one of the first seniors to attempt a Distinction Project on two separate topics. His mentors were Associate Lecturer of Chemistry Dr. Michele Stover and Lecturer of Biology Dr. Jason Anderson.

Jojo Deep, under the mentorship of Associate Lecturer of MathematicsRandy Key and Associate Lecturer of English Dr. Pamela Francis, presented both a Distinction Project as well as a Capstone Project during Blue and Gold Week. In his Distinction Project, “Finding the Singular Locus,” Deep analyzed single points on a graph in a given variety, the “singular locus,” and developed an algorithm to calculate these points. His Capstone Project, “The Illusion of Disconnectedness: A Post-Colonial Literary Analysis of Avatar: The Last Airbender,” explored the balance between different cultures and imperialist rule in the popular animation series and how the themes within the show reflected modern society.

Juliet Flanagan’s Distinction Project “Optimizing Western Blots to Assess Genetic Variation in Strains of the Epstein-Barr Isolated from Burkett Lymphomas” observed the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), one of the major culprits of Burkitt Lymphoma, and incorporated the use of Western blots testing in order to compare various EBV strains. Her independent research was done under the tutelage of Anderson.

Madison Latiolais presented her project, titled “Passing through the Waters: The Mississippi River Flood of 1927 in Acadiana.” In it, she discussed the major flood which caused 100,000 residents to flee their homes and further explored the economic and social impact the natural disaster has in present times. Her mentor was Associate Lecturer of History Dr. Kyle Stephens.

Lily Orgeron’s presentation, “Germany’s Nazified Children: Studying the Relationship Between Empathy and Indoctrination in Germany’s Youth Through Literature,” provided a look at the Holocaust through the lens of impressionable German youth, as displayed in the novels “Max” by Sarah Cohen-Scali and “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. Her Disctinction Project mentor was Associate Lecturer of English Dr. Jocelyn Donlon,

Collin Serigne’s project “Cut-Off: A Dialogue of People, Industry, and the Environment” included a presentation, a showing of his short documentary titled “Shrimp Land, USA” and a gallery showing featuring an installation exhibit all centered around his hometown of Cut Off, Louisiana. His mentor was Lecturer of Visual Arts Chris King, and the gallery was up for view in LSMSA’s Center for Performance and Technology art gallery.

Casey Tonnies, in her presentation titled “Synthesis and coordination chemistry of N, N’-disubstituted malonamide derivatives as a multi-step reaction for undergraduate labs,” developed new, innovative sequences for undergraduate students to use for their own lab experiments. She accomplished her independent research under the supervision of Associate Lecturer of Chemistry Dr. Stephen Costin.

Louisiana’s best and brightest students are able to study a unique curriculum and are granted opportunities to further explore topics that interest them through independent study and research opportunities, all under the direction of esteemed faculty members at the highest level in their field. To join the incoming class of Eagles for the 2019-2020 school year, register now at