The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) held its annual Senior Recognition Ceremony on May 19 to honor the Class of 2023. The ceremony celebrated personal character, academic excellence, and development of skills in each academic disciplines.
LSMSA Executive Director Dr. Steve Horton served as Master of Ceremonies, Senior Class President Ashley Green of Houma led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Student Government Organization President Rosie Shultz of Ruston delivered the welcoming address to her fellow classmates before accepting an honorary gavel for her leadership and service to the school.
“I’m so proud of how we in the LSMSA community continue to support each other in spite of challenges,” said Shultz, noting that eagles are known to bond for life. “Sophomores and juniors, cherish your remaining days at LSMSA. They will pass in a blink.”
Each major discipline — Creative and Performing Arts, Math and Computer Science, Humanities, Languages, Science, and Health and Physical Education — granted Excellence Awards to seniors who best epitomized those individual departments. Each department also introduced a chosen Gonfaloniere, or “flag bearer,” who was deemed to embody excellence in that discipline. These students were privileged to carry the Gonfalon for their respective department at the Commencement Ceremony procession.
Shultz received the honor of being the Gonfaloniere for the Creative and Performing Arts department; Will Brown of Industry, TX, was chosen to represent the Humanities department; River Costello of Baker was selected to hold the Languages Gonfalon; Aidan Nicholas Borne of Prairieville was chosen to represent the Math and Computer Science department; Ravi Baker of New Iberia was chosen as the Sciences department’s Gonfaloniere; and Aaron Burton of Houma was selected as the Health and Physical Education department’s Gonfaloniere.
Graduation with Distinction was awarded to five students in the Class of 2023 who completed a program of independent academic study or artistic endeavor beyond formal course requirements. In their junior year, these students were invited to identify their potential project, then undertook an intense porgram of reading, research, and creative activity throughout their senior year. The students’ culminating presentations took place during the school’s Blue & Gold Week, an annual celebration of student research and artisitic accomplishments. The following LSMSA seniors graduated with distinction: Sophia Adams-Giron of Alexandria; William Brown of Industry, TX; Emma Cecchini of Cary, NC; Silas Falgout of Ponchatoula; and Kathryn Long of Alexandria.
Eight seniors were honored for For Excellence in Residential Life: Sofia Adams-Giron of Alexandria; Errol Chouest of Larose; Joy Dong of Lake Charles; Jolie England of Alexandria; Mateo Este-McDonald of Lake Charles; Ashley Green of Houma; Isabella Leslie of Lake Charles; and Joy Qiu of Houma.
In addition to their high school diplomas, 37 seniors received their Associate’s degrees, and ten graduates who are children of LSMSA alumni received legacy coins from LSMSA Alumni Association Natchitoches Liaison Matthew Couvillion (’93) of Many.
Adam Deslatte of Hammond and Josh Gillett of Lake Charles were the winners of the Eric Candell Excellence in Physics Award. The award, created in memory of a 1987 graduate, is granted with a $100 check gifted by the Candell family to a student who has developed considerable mastery in the subject of Physics.
Hunter Chaisson of Houma was honored as a Caroline Dormon Scholar for excelling in courses such as Ecology, Environmental Science, Botany, and Animal Behavior, and for demonstrating sensitivity to the arts and humanities through their personal interests and form al course work.
The Marvin Lockhart Work Service Award was developed in memory of one of LSMSA’s charismatic former employees and was presented to Mateo Este-McDonald of Lake Charles; Ashley Green of Houma; and Maddie Williams of Madisonville for illustrating selflessness, dedication, dependability, and an unrelenting desire to help their peers and those in their community.
Sofia Adams-Giron of Alexandria and Jeanne Patterson of Opelousas received the Sharon Sturdivant Williams Praecellemus Award. Named after one of the founding members of LSMSA’s administration, students who are selected for this honor best represent the school’s motto, “We shall excel.”
Joshua Chesal of Natchitoches received the Spirit of LSMSA award. This award recognizes students who best exemplify the pillars of LSMSA school spirit, demonstrating hard work, perseverance, service, involvement, and camaraderie.
Five seniors were inducted into the Robert Alost Hall of Fame. Named after the school’s founding director, this is considered the highest honor bestowed upon LSMSA seniors, with students being hand-picked by a committee of faculty and residential life staff members. New LSMSA Hall of Fame members are Ravi Baker of New Iberia; Emma Cecchini of Cary, NC; Jolie England of Alexandria; Jordan Murray of Lake Charles; and Rosie Shultz of Ruston.
Following the awards, each senior presented their college choice on stage, with 63 percent of the Class of 2023 attending universities in Louisiana and 37 percent attending schools across the country and abroad.
The ceremony concluded with a closing speech by Aroma Chanda of Hammond titled “Acorns.”
“The small golden acorn pins that many of us received represent so much more than a symbol of our journey as third-year seniors. It embodies the spirit of growth and transformation that we have all undergone during our time here at LSMSA,” said Chanda. “Over time, our roots extended, growing larger and more intricate, entwining with those of other oaks like ourselves – oaks with whom we have shared laughter, worries, and sorrows.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, LSMSA Registrar and Chief Articulation Officer Angela Couvillion (’93) made a special announcement introducing the school’s newly signed agreement with LSU to recognize a portion of LSMSA students’ coursework for college credit at the state’s flagship university.
“As the first high school for LSU to offer articulation credit to, we are thrilled for what this means for our students,” said Horton.
LSMSA is an internationally ranked tuition-free, residential, public high school for high-achieving rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors with a nominal room and board fee to cover housing, meals, and campus activities. The LSMSA Foundation offers assistance for families in need to ensure no eligible student is denied the school’s living/learning experience. For more information about the Louisiana School or to apply for the 2023-24 school year, visit www.LSMSA.edu.
Pictured: Creative and Performing Arts Gonfaloniere Rosie Shultz of Ruston with Senior Lecturer of Instrumentals, Theory and Composition and Department Chair Dr. Al Benner; Humanities Gonfaloniere Will Brown of Industry, TX with Lecturer of History and Department Chair Dr. Casey Green (’05); Languages Gonfaloniere River Costello of Baker with Associate Lecturer of German and Department Chair Dr. John Littlejohn; Math and Computer Science Gonfaloniere Aidan Nicholas Borne of Prairieville with Lecturer of Mathematics Mr. Randy Key; Sciences Gonfaloniere Ravi Baker of New Iberia with Principal Lecturer of Biology and Department Chair Dr. Maggie Hodge; Health and Physical Education Gonfaloniere Aaron Burton of Houma with Principal Lecturer of Health & Physical Education and Department Chair Mr. Jacob Spielbauer