Archdiocese tabs local as 8th grade’s best

Published 12:10 am Saturday, April 4, 2015

LAPLACE — Kindergarten student Payton Williams is quick to point out her favorite person on the Ascension of Our Lord Catholic School campus.

“We love Maggie,” Payton said. “She plays with us. She colors with us. She teaches us things.”

The Maggie that Payton is referring to is eighth grader Maggie Morton, a participant  in the school’s Kindergarten Buddies, a setup where she mentors Payton, Madelyn Hoffman and Sarah McDonald.

Maggie was a kindergarten student in the program years ago and today serves as one of its most dedicated senior members.

Maggie helps the young students learn and grow by spending time each month with her buddies, teaching them new things. She helps with arts and crafts activities and chaperones them on field trips. Currently, Maggie is teaching them how to say the Rosary.

That effort and much more recently earned Maggie the prestigious honor of 2015 Eighth Grade Student of the Year for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

“It was such an honor to have been named Archdiocesan 8th Grade Student of the Year not only for myself, but for my school since this is the last year for 8th grade at Ascension,” Maggie said. “It means a lot to me to be chosen out of the 80 people that sent in their portfolios and to go in for the interview.”

Winning the Archdiocese award allowed Maggie to appear on television as an invited guest of Dr. Jan Lancaster, Archdiocese of New Orleans Superintendent of Schools.

“It was a very pleasant experience that allowed me the opportunity to do a TV show with Dr. Jan Lancaster,” Morton said. “I was able to do an interview with her on her show, ‘Our Schools Our Future.’ I got to meet the other students of the year, and they are outstanding, as well.”

Maggie said the interviews she has gone through during the award process prepared her for interviews later on in life.

“This is one of the greatest honors,” she said. “Every award that I get is just an honor, and I don’t really think that I deserve it sometimes. I don’t like to think about all the things that I really do. I like to think about others and do things for them.”

The newest goals Maggie has set for herself include achieving top of her class in 2014-15, class president in her freshman year next school year, joining student council and beta club and continuing to keep active in cheerleading, hoping to someday make team captain. She said her most important goal is to become high school valedictorian.

Her father, Patrick Morton, said Maggie is good at balancing herself, but remains ambitious enough to want to try a little bit of everything.

“Sometimes you have to say that you have to make a decision,” he said. “Some of the choices aren’t easy. So much of it is that I know that she enjoys the interaction that she has with people.”

Maggie swims for Riverlands Golf and Country Club and plays softball. She is a catcher for the AOL Crusaders.

Tammy Morton, Maggie’s mother, describes her daughter as “self driven and self motivated.”

Maggie’s plans for the future are bright. She looks forward to pursuing a career in journalism.  “If journalism doesn’t work out, I wouldn’t mind becoming an English teacher,” she said.

Maggie attributes her inspiration to older brothers Matthew and Michael.

“My brothers, they had these really great goals that they set for themselves, both were valedictorians of their AOL 8th grade class and one was also salutatorian at St. Charles Catholic,” Maggie said. “Seeing what they have accomplished has made me think, ‘I want to do that.’ I want to set those goals for myself.”

— By Gladys Davis Mulkey