Celebrating student leaders: Chance Joseph & Cali White represent LaPlace Elementary

Published 12:05 am Saturday, January 11, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

LAPLACE — Eighth grader Chance Joseph sees Student of the Year as a leadership position in his school and in his St. John the Baptist Parish community. To him, being a leader means continuing to aim for success in academics, athletics and artistic endeavors.

Fifth grader Cali White said the Student of the Year should set a good example for younger children in the school so they can aspire to one day claim the title. She strives to shine as a dancer, a community volunteer, and a friend who others can come to for advice.

Chance and Cali are LaPlace Elementary School’s 2019-2020 Students of the Year, and they have represented St. John Public Schools well by staying true to themselves.

Basketball has been a longtime passion for Chance, and he dreams of securing a collegiate scholarship to propel him to a professional athletic career. From the time he was in fifth grade, he has traveled the country with his AAU basketball team.

Most of the tournaments are scheduled on weekends over the summer, though training and practice continue year-round.

“We usually travel every week to places like Florida, Alabama and Missouri,” Chance said. “It’s basically about that feeling of having good teammates and the love for the game. It’s something I just enjoy doing.”

Chance also enjoys playing football, and he has upheld the legacy of the LaPlace Elementary Tigers by helping his team reach the championship game for the past four consecutive years. Joining track is a consideration as he works to strengthen his athletic abilities.

After high school, Chance plans to attend Louisiana State University and study mechanical engineering. His father, an employee at DOW St. Charles, inspired the career choice. However, Chance said his goal is to play basketball first, and have a solid engineering career to fall back on.

Chance is currently in the pre-engineering pathway in the St. John STEM Magnet Program. He has been part of St. John’s talented art program since he was in kindergarten.

Chance developed an affinity for art at just 5 years old. His mother told him he would soon have a little brother, and it didn’t take long for Chance to imagine the bond he and his sibling would have once the baby was old enough to play.

“I would draw pictures of me and him on the swing sets, at the park, watching movies together,” Chance said.

Today, Chance likes to focus on composition. Pencil and pen are his preferred media for sketches and small portraits of people. When drawing, he pays special attention to value to make sure shadows and highlights look true to life.

He was also the winner of St. John Schools’ recent Christmas card contest. His design featured a lifelike pelican among Christmas décor.
Chance has participated in Beta Club and 4-H over the years, and he doesn’t allow himself to earn anything less than a ‘B’. His parents and younger brother motivate him to push forward and keep moving, no matter what.

Cali White also draws inspiration from her family, especially from her mother. According to Cali, her mother has been by her side through the best and worst of times and always puts her child’s needs before her own.

Cali has a heart for service, whether she is singing for her church or feeding the homeless. For the past two years, she has been a part of the St. John Pastor’s Coalition Thanksgiving Celebration at New Wine Christian Center in LaPlace.

She represented Providence Baptist Church #1 and was in charge of giving people wristbands during the event.

Outside of school, Cali has performed on competitive dance teams. This is her first year on LaPlace Elementary’s Tigerettes Dance Team, and she has also participated in Beta Club and 4-H.

She’s placed in the school social studies fair for two consecutive years. Her most recent project was about how underage alcohol use affects youth.

“I learned that you shouldn’t drink alcohol at any age,” Cali said. “Either way it goes, that alcohol can still have a consequence, and that consequence can be deadly.”

In the future, Cali would like to become a lawyer or a cosmetologist, since she enjoys doing hair and makeup. Her favorite subject at school is math.

Earning the Student of the Year title wasn’t too much of a surprise for Cali because she knew she gave it her all in the portfolio and interview process. However, it was special finding out she won.

“I was right on side of the lady that announced it because I was helping with the morning announcements,” she said. “I looked at the paper and it said fifth grade – Cali White.”