Takes more than good grades to make the cut

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 15, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE – Christopher Taylor of John L. Ory Communication Arts Magnet School, Kennedy Gerard of LaPlace Elementary School and Judy Chen of East St. John High School have been named District Students of the Year by the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District.

“We are very proud of our three Students of the Year,” said Superintendent Kevin George. “These students are the best of the best and were selected using a rigorous process.”

A committee evaluated the students based on academic achievement, school and community service, recognition and leadership, portfolio presentation and written and verbal communication skills.

Judy Chen is the 12th-grade student of the year for St. John the Baptist Parish schools.

A straight-A student, Chen is involved in numerous extracurricular activities and has held multiple leadership positions.

Chen is particularly active in the Technology Student Association, which focuses on engineering, architecture, drafting and design. She said the organization has allowed her to take her two favorite subjects, math and science, and see how they can be used in the real world, which has led to a passion in robotics. Chen has spent several late nights at school working on robotics projects and said she plans to pursue a career in the field.

Chen is the daughter of Xiao Ling and Zhao Hua Chen.

Kennedy Gerard is the eighth-grade student of the year for St. John the Baptist Parish schools.

Gerard has served as Beta Club president, Student Council president and plays and manages sports, all while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.

During the summer, Gerard attended the Summer Science Academy BP STEM Institute MathStar program, finishing with the third-highest average in the group. She is currently taking Algebra I online to get a jumpstart on her high school education.

Gerard serves as a youth volunteer with a foundation to promote breast cancer awareness established by her family after her grandmother’s death.

Gerard plans to pursue a career as an obstetrical nurse. She also hopes to own a dancing school and early childhood development center.

Gerard is the daughter of Kennette Bardell and Germond Gerard.

Christopher Taylor is the fifth-grade student of the year for St. John the Baptist Parish schools.

Taylor placed first in the school social studies fair in 2013 and had the highest average in the subject in both third and fourth grades. He said he enjoys social studies because it allows him to learn about different cultures, great people and geography.

Taylor participates in Louisiana Ambassadors basketball and was the team captain in 2013, when he also won the leadership award and made the all-star team. He said basketball is his favorite sport.

Taylor plans to pursue a degree in communications so he can become a sports commentator and work for ESPN.

Tayor is the son of Terri and Enoch Frazier.

Chen, Gerard and Taylor are now eligible to compete in the Regional Student of the Year Competition, which will take place Feb. 10 in St. Bernard Parish.

“We have amazing students in our parish,” said Heidi Trosclair, chairwoman of the Student of the Year Committee. “The judges were bursting with compliments about all of them.”

The district students of the year will be recognized at the March 20 St. John the Baptist Parish School Board meeting.