The Louisiana Department of Education today named the 2020 Students of the Year and honored all 21 regional finalists for the prestigious award during a virtual ceremony.
The overall winners, one student from the elementary, middle and high school grades, were selected based on criteria that measure academic achievement, leadership skills, character, and for the first time this year, their career and technical education achievements.
"Congratulations to Piper, Zachary and Antavion for earning this recognition among all of our remarkable finalists," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. "It takes dedication, sacrifice and talent to excel at the levels of these three young people. I'm proud to have them represent what's possible for students in Louisiana."
The 2020 Students of the Year are:
Elementary School (5th Grade)Piper Joan Cangelosi attends University Laboratory School in the Louisiana State University System (Region 4). Piper says "faith, family and goals" have motivated her to overcome obstacles and achieve at high levels. She's twice earned perfect scores on the ELA portion of her state assessments and has a 4.0 GPA. Her teachers say she is an inquisitive, engaged student who motivates her peers and has a contagious appetite for learning. Piper is a leader on her school's basketball team, a talented pianist, has earned featured roles on stage and volunteers in the community through the Girl Scouts and her church.
Middle School (8th Grade)Zachary Evans Cryer attends Benton Middle School in Bossier Parish Schools (Region 1). Zachary was named the Louisiana elementary student of the year in 5th grade. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his time in school, scored Advanced on his most recent state assessments and has already earned a 28 on the ACT. He credits his role as president of Student Government Association with opening doors to better serve and lead in the community. Zachary's other leadership roles include class spokesperson, cyber patriot team leader, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Student Leader and robotics team captain. Zachary is active in athletics and in the community. He organized a neighborhood collection drive for Operation Christmas Child.
High School (12th Grade)Antavion Jacarri Moore is from Ringgold High School in Bienville Parish Schools (Region 1). Antavion graduated from high school having already earned an associates degree and certificate of general studies. He excelled in dual enrollment, AP and CTE coursework. He plans to major in biomedical engineering in college so he can become an orthopedic physician. Academically gifted, he's also a talented music student. Antavion represented Louisiana at the 2019 national 4-H conference, where he presented ideas on the future of agricultural leadership to the Department of Agriculture. In his community, Antavion attends the mayor's monthly meetings and updates citizens on new ordinances and events. He's also written a congressional bill on mandatory computer science curriculum in schools at the Citizenship Washington Focus.
The annual competition has multiple steps. First, all public and nonpublic schools are asked to submit one candidate from their student body. Students then compete with their peers at the school system level, and winners advance to the regional competitions.
At the regional level, students are selected based on criteria that measure academic success, career and technical achievements, leadership skills, character and service to their schools and communities. Regional selection committees also use student-made portfolios of accomplishments, along with student writing samples and interviews, to assess the communications and critical-thinking skills of each candidate.
Prior to selecting the three overall state winners, a state selection committee made up of K-12, higher education and community leaders also reviews the students' portfolios and writing samples and conducts interviews with them. This year, as a result of the ongoing public health crisis, student interviews were conducted online.