The middle school years can be tough, but 16 students from across the parish were recently recognized by the Bossier Optimist Club and honored with the Rising Stars award for their perseverance and turning their lives around.
Started many years ago by late Optimist Club member Cecil Strickland, the Rising Stars award singles out students who faced challenges with academics, behavior and attitude but overcame them.
Greenacres Middle School Assistant Principal Martha Stevenson commented with great pride, “It has taken a village, but she’s come a long way,” referring to Tiffany Thomas, one of the honorees. “At the end, she’s done it. She’s made a complete turnaround.”
As for Kai Aarron, Stevenson told the audience “He liked to fight a lot, but has changed his tune. He’s gone from regular classes to honors classes. Hands down, he was our choice.”
When Haughton Middle School Assistant Principal Wendy Lee spoke about Johntravius Bell, she beamed.
“I am so proud of the behavioral change he’s made. He decided over the summer it was time he quit being a knucklehead,” laughed Lee and Bell’s mother. “He was chosen on his improved behavior and grades. He’s now on the honor roll.”
Honorees included: Ke’rin Roberson and Claire Sprankle, Benton Middle; Nakyah Cook and Kelly Kearns, Butler Educational Complex; Layla Harris and Diego Trego, Cope; Ariah Mitchell and Josthin Quiacain-Ovando, Elm Grove; Kai Aarron and Tiffany Thomas, Greenacres; Johntravius Bell and Richard “Aaron” Ober, Haughton Middle; Carliegh Mullenueaux and Derrel Williams, Rusheon; and Destiny Boyd and Cassidy Thompson, Plain Dealing.
“Hearing these stories lets me know we are doing something right,” Bossier Optimist Club President Quincy Gardner remarked.
Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey said the Rising Stars program is, by far, one of his favorites as he made heartfelt remarks to the honorees and their families.
“This program is an example of what you can do when you are determined to make positive choices,” Downey said. “You’ve seen both sides; the benefits and rewards of positive choices and the consequences of bad one. Look back where you have been and forward to where you want to go.”