Looks Bright: Essay about mom scores for LPE Student of the Year

Published 12:15 am Saturday, April 15, 2017

LAPLACE — After he had been nominated for fifth grade student of the year at LaPlace Elementary School, after he had built his portfolio listing his accomplishments and written his essay, Thomas Gross III didn’t want to send it in.

Thomas is a somewhat shy young man, who doesn’t really like to talk very much.

So, the thought of sitting in front of that panel of interviewers for the final competition gave him pause.

Principal Patty Forsythe had to give him a little boost.

“It was the day before the portfolio was due and I didn’t have his,” Forsythe said. “I called him in and he said, ‘I don’t know if I want to talk to the people.’”

Thomas Gross, front row left, was a first place winner in the fifth grade spelling bee in February. Other winners were, front row, Chance Joseph, second place; and Laila Cook and Anaya Shepherd, third place. School level winners were, back row from left, Kentrell Brown, and Hailegh Wyble.

Forsythe urged him to continue on.

“I told him, ‘Baby, it’s up to you, but they have 125 people in fifth grade and you’re one of three,” Forsythe said. “I think you should do it.”

Finally, at the 11th hour, Thomas turned in what turned out to be the winning portfolio with an essay about his mom, Ta-Tanisha.

Thomas is one of seven children of Thomas and Ta-Tanisha, all of whom have names that begin with the letter “T.” Thomas is the oldest boy.

“I wrote about how she’s always there for us and taking care of us,” Thomas said.

It’s kind of crazy living in a house full of children, he said, but also pretty fun.

“Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t,” he said.

He said the coolest thing about having lots of brothers and sisters is, “someone is always there to help you.”

The worst?

“When everyone is being loud and aggravating,” he said.

Forsythe said Thomas’ essay about his hard-working mom was “outstanding.”

“You could tell he wrote it,” she said. “It was really well done.”

Thomas said he’s glad he turned in his winning entry after all.

“It makes me feel good because it helps me to do better in school and helps me encourage my friends to do good as well,” he said.

“That’s important because it can help them in the future. And I don’t want them not to have a job because they didn’t learn.”

Forsythe said Thomas, although quiet, is a stellar student who has gotten all As on his report cards.

He said he likes math, “because it’s the easiest,” but he also is carrying on a family tradition of strong spelling.

In February he won the District’s fifth grade Spelling Bee.

“All of them have been very good spellers,” Forsythe said of the Gross children.

“They have won our spelling bees and some have even gone to the (New Orleans) bee at Xavier.

Forsythe continued: “They are a wonderful family, very supportive of each other, very involved in the community.”

Thomas also is a budding basketball star, a member of the St. John Warriors team, which recently finished third in a national competition.

He might not talk about it, though.

“He is very quiet and he doesn’t really like the spotlight,” Forsythe said.

“He’s a self motivator. He’s a classic example of a perfect role model who’s always helpful, always respectful.”