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.
Part of being a member in the National Honor Society is doing your part and helping out with service projects throughout the year. Last school year several students expressed an interest in wanting to help the school campus go green by getting a recycling program started. The President, Elizabeth Zhang, tried to contact different companies to see who would be willing to help us and figure out how to get started. Unfortunately, she did not have any luck. As a last ditch effort the sponsor, Ms. Brittney Fetter, contacted the Recycling Office of East Baton Rouge Parish to see if they had any ideas about how the club could get the recycling idea off the ground. Thankfully a glimmer of hope was sparked.
Richanne Caraway at the Recycling Office guided the sponsor to a representative at the Department of Environmental Services (DES) in hopes that we would be able to enter the recycling competition with the other schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. After discussing the idea with the DES representative Michael Lowe, the NHS club decided this was the service project for us this year. The club had an orientation meeting with Mr. Lowe so that he could explain the rules of the competition and get everyone on board. The students were excited about getting to make a difference in their school community.
Later that week, Friday October 20, 2017, the recycling bins were delivered by Republic to aid the NHS in their mission. They received four bins to help collect the recycling, and the bins were placed in different areas around campus to make it easier for the students during collection. The competition started that very next Monday morning on October 23, 2017 and they had four weeks to collect as much as possible. They asked the faculty to place a recycling bin in their classroom, to aid in the collection process. The students and the teachers were very good at making sure that the appropriate material was getting recycled; paper, plastic, cardboard, no food waste. It was decided to pick-up twice a week during both lunch shifts on Wednesday and during the beginning of 4th block on Fridays. Students volunteered to go around and collect the recycling.
Throughout the competition the club members had to keep track of how many bins were put into the recycling dumpster. With the help of the teachers, students, office staff, and the cafeteria staff the club was able to dump 111 bins of recycling. In the end it weighed over 5,000 pounds. It was amazing! Since the students met their goal of 100 carts, the whole school was able to participate in free dress for a whole week. The week after Thanksgiving break the sponsor was anxiously awaiting the news to find out who had won the whole competition. At the end of the day on November 27, 2017 the email finally came through; Congratulations to Woodlawn High School, the winner of the recycling competition! Being the winners of the competition, meant a visit from Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. The Mayor came to the school on Monday December 11, 2017 to announce Woodlawn as the winners and to declare that December 11, 2017 is Woodlawn High School Day.
Even though the competition has ended, our goal to keep the campus green remains. The National Honor Society appreciates all the help from everyone involved and hopes for the continued support from the Woodlawn High family.
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.