Senators honor Louisiana Middle School Student of the Year

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Stacey Tinsley | Bossier Press-Tribune

District 37 Senator Barrow Peacock and District 36 Senator Robert Mills worked together to author a special Senate proclamation for Louisiana Middle School Student of The Year from Benton Middle School Zach Cryer.

For his outstanding achievements, Mills presented Cryer with an award and proclamation Thursday.

“Thank you all for coming and taking time out of your day to be here. I know y’all probably have really busy schedules,” Cryer said.

“Thank you to Senator Mills for putting this together and recognizing me this way. It is a huge honor to me. But it’s as much as a representation of how much hard work I put in, it’s also a representation of the hard work that has been invested in me by everyone around me. My family, my mom, my dad, my grandparents, my little sister, my coaches, my youth minister, all my teachers, all of the administration at Benton middle, our administration in Bossier Parish, because without the time that they put into me then I wouldn’t have had the opportunities.

“The ultimate ‘Thank you’ that I need to give is to God. Because without him I wouldn’t be anything. It’s through my faith and the prayers of many others that I was able to have the opportunities that I have. My faith in Him is shaping the man that I am today,” he added.

During the summer, The Louisiana Department of Education 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.

Piper Joan Cangelosi from Baton Rouge’s University Lab is the Elementary School Student of the Year. Benton Middle School’s Zachary Cryer won the Student of the Year for middle school students. Antavion Moore of Ringgold is the High School Student of the Year.

In fifth grade, Cryer was named the Louisiana elementary student of the year. 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.

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.