Two Woodlawn High School Seniors were recently recognized by the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board for receiving national honors.
Joshua Serio and Ray Sierra attended a reception on Thursday, October 17, 2019 before the monthly school board meeting. The seniors were then recognized at the meeting, along with other twenty-seven other EBR students.
Joshua is in the Gifted Program at Woodlawn High and currently carries a 4.3 GPA. He was recognized as a National Merit Semifinalist. There are approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the nation, and these academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered in the spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.
Over 1.6 million juniors in about 22,000 high schools entered the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.
Ray, who is also in the Gifted Program at Woodlawn High, carries a 4.5 GPA. He was recently selected as the 2019-2020 Student of the Year at Woodlawn High. Ray was recognized as a National Hispanic Scholar and was also recognized as a National Merit Commended student. The National Hispanic Recognition Program recognizes approximately 5,000 Hispanic/Latino juniors each year as National Hispanic Scholars from among the more than 400,000 juniors who take the PSAT. As with the National Merit Scholarship Program, NHRP uses the junior year PSAT/NMSQT as the qualifying test. Students must carry a minimum 3.5 GPA to be considered for the recognition.
More than two-thirds (about 34,000) of the approximately 50,000 high scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT® receive Letters of Commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise. Commended Students are named on the basis of a nationally applied Selection Index score that may vary from year to year and is typically below the level required for participants to be named Semifinalists in their respective states. Although Commended Students do not continue in the competition for National Merit® Scholarships, some of these students do become candidates for Special Scholarships sponsored by corporations and businesses.
In addition to their academic success, both Josh and Ray have excelled outside of the classroom while at Woodlawn High. Josh is a four-year letterman in the sports of football and baseball. Ray has lettered in the sports of football, baseball, powerlifting, soccer, and track during his time at Woodlawn High. He also is a member of Beta Club, National Honor Society, and Youth Legislature.
After graduation in May, Josh plans to attend Louisiana State University and major in Engineering. Ray expects to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology and major in Aerospace Engineering.
The Louisiana State Senior Beta Convention was held February 8th through 10th at the Baton Rouge River Center. The theme for the convention was “Beta Above and Beyond.” The State Beta Convention gives students the opportunity to participate in a variety of competitions, giving them an arena to showcase their academic achievements, artistic creativity, critical thinking skills, collaborative team work, all while increasing their leadership skills. The convention also gives students a chance to interact and compete against students from schools from all across the state.
The Woodlawn High Beta Club brought 28 students total, for which they were awarded a G.O.L.D. Key Award (Growth Opportunities in Leadership Development). The G.O.L.D. Key Award was presented to schools that increased member attendance by 10% compared to their 2015-2016 convention attendance.
Members of the Spotlight on Service Team from the 2017 LA Beta Convention.
In total, 25 of the 28 students who attended the convention competed in different competitions. Amari Bacon, Ezaria Coates, Montrell Frank, Danielle Massey, and Byron Taylor made up the team which competed in the Spotlight on Service category and placed second.
The Spotlight on Service competition allowed students to showcase one service project in which their club participated in, developed, or initiated. Woodlawn’s Beta Club chose to focus on The Walk for Arthritis, which was held at Woodlawn in May of 2016. The club helped set up, organize, and operate the walk last year. The Walk for Arthritis will be held at Woodlawn again on May 20, 2017. The Woodlawn Beta Club will also participate in The Walk for Arthritis this year.
Members of the Team Chant from the 2017 LA Beta Convention.
The Woodlawn Beta Club also placed third in the chant competition. The chant competition gave students 30 seconds to present an original chant, which could be based on the convention theme, principals of Beta, or what Beta means to your club and school. Nakavia Chapman, Renee’ Robertson, and Tamiia Williams created the 30 second chant. They then taught the chant and motions to the other 17 club members who participated in the competition. The chant focused on what Beta means to us as a club.
Other members also competed in different competitions at the convention. Madison Brooks (Speech), Christian Lejeune (Math), Ana Orellana (Spanish), and Elizabeth Zhang (Social Studies) each took an academic test. Erin LaBorde, Makenzey Heughan, Jarielle Johnson, and Calah Williams made up the members of the Quiz Bowl Team. Brennan Burleigh (Acrylic Painting) and Christian Riley (Pencil Drawing) each participated in the onsite art competitions.
Two groups of Beta Members also created different items for the convention, and each was also entered into a competition. Dabria Gage, Nichole Goodman, Briana Jacob, Hayden LeBlanc, and Vy Nguyen were members of the team that created the club’s banner. The banner was free flowing and it depicted the convention theme. Brayden Cockerham and Goodman also hand drew the design for the club t-shirt, which was then printed and worn by members at the convention.
Overall, the students had a great experience and made the most out of this opportunity. The Woodlawn Beta Club will continue to participate and compete in the LA State Beta Convention, and plan to bring more students next year as the club continues to grow.
2016-2017 WHS Beta Club Officers.
“As sponsors, we are extremely proud of the students for competing and having a positive attitude throughout the entire convention,” stated Ms. Ortego, one of the sponsors.
The 2016-2017 Club Officers are as follows: Hayden LeBlanc – President, Emelee King- Vice President, Vy Nguyen- Sergeant at Arms, and Elizabeth Zhang- Secretary. The Beta Club is sponsored by Ms. Fentress, Ms. B. Fetter, and Ms. Ortego.
by Madisyn McAlister, Staff Reporter, ’18
In the aftermath of the tragic flood, Woodlawn High School rose up to provide support to victims of the flood.
Woodlawn High School faculty and students came together to help students, teachers, and the community affected by the flood.
“I instantly offered help,” says Heidi Fendlason, junior at Woodlawn, when asked about her experience with the assistance offered by the school. This assistance included offers of clothing, food, and gutting her house. The faculty even collaborated to create a check-in Google doc to assess need amongst faculty and students.
Morgan Watkins and Johnasia Smith help distribute food.
Starting the Tuesday after the flood, Woodlawn High School began handing out food to flood victims and quickly started collecting donations to hand out school materials, cleaning supplies, and basic necessities. At least 1,500 meals were donated by City Pork, The Chimes East, Cast Iron Kitchen, and Tramonte’s. Woodlawn’s own Mrs. Pearl and Mrs. Switzer also helped by cooking spaghetti. Donors of other food and supplies include the Stevens family, The Screen Shop, LSU History Department, the Jett family, Pelican House, University United Methodist Church, Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University, Peak Performance Fitness, Spectrum, Woodlawn Middle School, Kelly Slate, and Pam Brown. The school has received over $2,990.00 in total monetary donations. A large donation of $1,025.00 and cartloads of school supplies came from Jacksonville State University. A small go fund me account was also created to raise money to go towards supplies and collected donations from people around the country; this effort raised $1,965.00. The school has also partnered with local churches for assistance in handing out supplies.
Though every faculty member helped out any way they could, Ms. Heyer commented, “I reached out to Ms. Miller and Ms. Smoo on a daily basis” when talking about assistance regarding organization of the donations and making sure every student and teacher had access to anything they needed. This also included a ‘Panther Pop-up Shop’ set up here at school. This temporary clothing store provided high quality professional wear for the Woodlawn faculty who lost clothing in the flood.
Many clubs, teams, and other organizations within the school were heavily involved in flood relief efforts. Woodlawn High School’s football team spent many hours helping flood victims clean out their damaged homes. Panthrobotics accepted donations from other robotics teams throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas at their annual Red Stick Rumble event, as well as helped teammates clean out their homes. The school’s cheer team, Pantherettes, Beta Club, National Honors Society, and Youth Legislature sorted out the many donations and often helped pass out food to victims.
Although on-campus efforts ended August 19th, Woodlawn and the Old Jefferson community continued to provide meals on the weekends and supplies as needed.
by Sarah Hayden
This year’s Beta Club has really taken off thanks to the sponsors Mrs. Fentress and Ms. Ortego; they want to bring the club up by really focusing on making the students give back to the community and building leadership amongst students.
When Beta Club started, any student could join as long as they had a 2.5 GPA, but now the club is looking to raise that standard, even though the National Beta Club does not require a set GPA. The club is already starting their volunteer activity with the ALS Walk to Remember. They are also putting on a canned food drive this Thanksgiving. One new event Beta Club is looking forward to is going to the State Convention in Lafayette. This will be the first time Woodlawn’s Beta Club has ever been to this event. Mrs. Fentress says that the biggest goal for the club is to grow and become the type of club Beta should be. When people look at coming to Woodlawn, they should look to Beta club being one of those contributing factors of why they want to come. Beta club also has officers who help make decisions and guide the club. The president of the club is Hayden LeBlanc, the vice president is Melissa Grant, and Jarielle Johnson is the secretary.
The best part of Beta Club this year is the sense of belonging to a club and teamwork. Beta Club is very accepting of each other and wants to help build people up. They get to put themselves in other people’s positions and see how lucky they are to have what they have and look to help others in their community.