Apr 13, 2022

BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Department of Education tonight named the three 2022 Students of the Year and honored all 21 regional finalists for the prestigious award during a ceremony at the Louisiana State Museum. The overall winners-–one student each from the elementary, middle, and high school grades–were selected based on academic achievement, leadership skills, career and technical achievements, character, and service to their schools and communities.

Elementary School (5th Grade)

Ellen Kate Semmes; daughter of Robert and Catherine Semmes. Ellen is a student at Kiroli Elementary School in Ouachita Parish where Ms. Carolyn Norris serves as the principal. Dr. Don Coker serves as the Superintendent of Ouachita Parish Schools. 

Middle School (8th Grade)

Melissa An Le; daughter of Son and Van Le. Melissa is a student at A. E. Phillips Laboratory School in Lincoln Parish where Ms. Jenny Blalock serves as the principal. Mr. Rickey Durrett serves as the Lincoln Parish School System Superintendent.

High School (12th Grade)

Anita Rose Zahiri; daughter of Monsour Zahiri and Mojgan Meamarian. Anita is a senior at Benjamin Franklin High School where Dr. Patrick Widhalm serves as the Head of School. Ms. Alea Cot serves as the Board President for the Advocates for Excellence in Education, Inc., the governing board for Benjamin Franklin High School, and Dr. Henderson Lewis serves as the Superintendent of NOLA Public Schools.

“The annual Louisiana Students of the Year competition would not be possible without cooperation and dedication from schools and school systems,” said Dr. Ernise Singleton, Interim Assistant Superintendent of Career and College Readiness. 

All Louisiana public schools, charters, and nonpublic schools are asked to submit one candidate from grades 5, 8, and 12. Students then compete with their peers at the school system and regional level before advancing to state-level consideration. 

“We recognize the finalists for their demonstrated success and look forward to great things from them in the future,” said State Superintendent Cade Brumley. “It is an honor to celebrate alongside our honorees and their families, teachers principals and school system leaders.”

View a list of all 2022 regional finalists.

Learn more about the annual competition.