Woodlawn Legacy Reagan McDowell Continues Volleyball Career

Woodlawn Legacy Reagan McDowell Continues Volleyball Career

Reagan McDowell is a Panther. She went to Woodlawn Elementary, Woodlawn Middle, and chose to attend Woodlawn High.

“I’m a Woodlawn Baby. I went to all of the Woodlawn’s,” said McDowell. “And of my family went here. My mom and dad both came here. I didn’t want to have to start over somewhere new.”

Starting over somewhere new is ex

McDowell signs while her parents, Rashie and Megan, look on.

actly what is now in store for McDowell. Over the weekend, she signed paperwork to continue her academic and athletic career at Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee.

While McDowell has been a multiple sport athlete at Woodlawn – she has been an All-District player in the sports of volleyball, basketball, and softball – she will now focus all of her athletic time and energy on the volleyball court.

“I feel like volleyball is the sport that I worked most at. I got better as I worked and realized I could do more and play at the next level.”

Bethel University is an NAIA school in the Midsouth Conference. Led by Head Coach Starla Cupples, the Lady Wildcats finished the 2022 season with a 22-10 record. Cupples is obviously excited about adding McDowell to the program.

“Reagan is a pretty dynamic player,” said Cupples. “I really like her quickness, and when you combine that with her power, I think she will be a good player to have through the years.”

McDowell will report to Bethel in early August, and the season will begin a short three weeks later.

“I want to thank all of my coaches first. And I also want to thank my family for being my biggest supporters,” said McDowell. “They have always been there for me, whether it be in sports or in other areas of life. I thank them for always pushing me to better myself and helping me realize my goals.”

Lady Panthers Enter District on Hot Streak

Lady Panthers Enter District on Hot Streak

The Lady Panther basketball team will enter district play Friday after winning 10 of their last 12 games, including the last four games. Woodlawn carries a 20-6 record going into district.

Seniors Amaya Dedeaux, Qiana Dotch, Adrienne East, and Reagan McDowell were recognized at Senior Night versus Capitol on Wednesday, January 25th. Woodlawn came away with a 62 to 35 victory.

“We are playing confidently right now,” said Dedeaux. “But we understand that the district is tough, and we will be playing very tough teams. So we have to pick our play up a notch.”

In front of a large crowd, the Lady Panthers and Lady Lions traded baskets for much of the first quarter Wednesday night. Once Woodlawn settled down defensively, they took a lead they would not relinquish. Woodlawn led at the end of each quarter.

“Coach Dedeaux stressed defense at halftime,” said Dotch. “She said that we had to take care of the basics, play fundamental basketball, and play hard on defense. She said that if we did those things, the offense would come naturally.”

“I just think that it was an emotional night for everybody because it was Senior Night,” added Dotch. “Once we got past those emotions, we settled down and played better.”

Woodlawn currently has a top-ten power ranking, according to GeauxPreps.com. However, the seniors know that they have to finish the season strong to keep that ranking and a home playoff game.

“Having a home playoff game in the first round would be extremely important to us,” said Dedeaux. “We need to perform at our highest level to keep our power ranking high enough to host that first round game.”

Following the district opener at Central, Woodlawn will host Scotlandville on January 31st. The Lady Panthers will then travel to Zachary on February 3rd.

Woodlawn finishes the final week of the regular season by hosting Liberty on February 7th and traveling to St. Joseph’s Academy on February 9th.

Tickets for all home games can be purchased by following the link here.

Student Spotlight: 2022-2023 Student of the Year Ryan Wyche

Student Spotlight: 2022-2023 Student of the Year Ryan Wyche

Woodlawn High senior Ryan Wyche has been accepted into Berklee College of Music. This prestigious opportunity is the latest addition to an already-impressive resume that includes a wide range of local and national engagements. Wyche has also applied to Harvard University and hopes to take advantage of the Dual Degree program between the two schools. Upon receiving his acceptance, Ryan will declare two majors: one in Music Business and Management at Berklee and another in Sociology and African American Studies at Harvard.

From this unique educational experience, Ryan hopes to gain the skills and exposure necessary to start his own record label. He aims to cultivate a philanthropic community centered on the production of art. Wyche has always considered himself to be both a musician and an activist. Although he does not wish to enact change by running for public office or directly shaping legislation, Ryan is prepared in the event that he inherits a public platform. He looks to one of his idols, Billie Holiday. Holiday created intense, profound commentary through her art, and never let herself be defined by a singular label. Ryan wishes to mimic this fluidity and boldness.

Throughout his high school career, Ryan has participated in a myriad of activities around campus and within the surrounding community. Ryan is the WHS Student of the Year, Drum Major of the Panther Marching Band, and Chief Justice of the Louisiana Youth Legislature’s Supreme Court. He wakes up before most of his peers so that he may arrive early to school each morning and appear as a co-anchor on the WHS Morning Announcements. Ryan’s involvement is not limited to his immediate surroundings. He has attended conventions with the “100 Black Men of America,” and completed a summer study program in Boston at Berklee College of Music.

This is not meant to be a regurgitation of Ryan’s extensive resume‒ my goal is to paint a more personal picture of Senior Class President and Mr. Woodlawn, Ryan Wyche.

Having spent most of his life as a resident of various Southern cultural hubs, Ryan is well-versed in the ups and downs of Southern living. He spent most of his early life with a single father. His dad grew up in New York in the 80s, encapsulated by the birth of hip-hop. Ryan recalls that the highlights of his childhood often took place in the car with his dad, listening to music. The pros of life in the South have made themselves abundantly clear to him: having a large family, enjoying traditional southern meals, and so much more.

However, throughout the years, the cons have creeped in and created a sense of separation between Ryan’s geographical region and his identity. When Ryan moved from Atlanta to Virginia, he saw himself as “one of few black faces in the classroom.” He never had trouble finding internal similarities between himself and his classmates, but external differences often found a way to enforce division. Since moving to Louisiana and attending Woodlawn, Ryan is pleased with the diverse, yet harmonic community that he has found a unique place within.

As a proud member of the Woodlawn community, Ryan views his success as a representation of what happens when young adults take advantage of every single small opportunity for advancement. As he reflects on his experience here and looks forward to a bright future, Ryan feels that the thing he is most proud of is his little sister, Adrienne. If you asked him, Ryan would swear that Adrienne (4 years old) is already a prodigy, sure to make a mark on history. He relishes the relationship that he has created with her and is excited to watch her follow her own path; he’s certainly set an incredible example.

The New Year Brings Excitement, Open House Set

The New Year Brings Excitement, Open House Set

Woodlawn High opened the new school year this month overflowing with a record number of students and palpable excitement.

Principal Scott Stevens and the faculty and staff welcomed an enrollment of approximately 1,500 to campus — an increase of almost 25% during a five-year span — with a wide range of academic and extracurricular opportunities.

“Hearing from the kids, they like the fact that they get to wear spirit shirts every day and not wear the polos,” Stevens said. “They’re excited about the return of pep rallies, but that’s something, too, that we have our pep rally committee working on, because there’s no way we can feasibly fit 1,500 kids into our gym at once.

“So having so many students presents some challenges with space. But we’re working on ways to combat that and make sure everybody has a good experience.”

Woodlawn’s enrollment was reported as just over 1,400 last year and just over 1,100 five years ago.

And while that sharp rise in numbers can lend itself to some complications, Stevens said the school has taken measures to still prioritize personalized and tailored instruction to help facilitate student success.

“Obviously there are a lot more bodies in the halls,” he said. “With so many students, every room is used at all times. There is no empty space. But we’ve hired more teachers, so that’s helped us out some to still cut down on the class sizes.”

And to continue to provide courses and programs to meet the diversity of students’ needs and help better prepare them for varied paths after graduation.

“Having all the classes that we do, all the different programs, such as Gifted, Magnet, Great Scholars, Talented — you name it, and we’ve got it,” Stevens said. “So we’ve focused on making sure we meet all the requirements for those, making sure we get the kids what they need for graduation requirements, but also still giving them the options that we have like journalism, athletic marketing and things that let them expand on areas that they’re interested in.”

Outside of class, several student organizations, including sports teams and other clubs, have already launched into regular practices and meetings in the first two weeks of class.

The football and volleyball teams have both already competed in scrimmages against other area schools and will participate in jamborees this week before opening regular-season play next week.

“Kind of getting past some of the impacts of COVID the past two years and being able to do a lot more to allow the kids to be able to get involved is a big deal,” Stevens said. “It should feel back a lot closer to normal — should being the operative word,

“But there’s a lot more stuff we’d like to do this year. For instance, there are some PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support) and TSS (Therapeutic Staff Support) aspects we’re going to be implementing along with the Social Emotional Learning through the counseling office, some different activities during the lunch periods and all those things.”

As students and parents get back into the routine of the new school year, Woodlawn High is excited to once again have an in-person Open House. Open House will be held Monday, September 12th, beginning at 6 pm.

Rickie Collins, Jordan Matthews Scheduled for Historic Commitment Announcements

Rickie Collins, Jordan Matthews Scheduled for Historic Commitment Announcements

Two Woodlawn seniors will announce during the next six days their commitments to sign scholarship offers with two of the nation’s premier college programs.

Both announcements will be broadcast live via the school’s YouTube channel.

“I think it’s a big deal for the program obviously now to be getting a lot of national attention not just for those guys, but for our school and our team,” coach Marcus Randall said. “That’s a great thing for us overall. Those guys are going to have their day, and then hopefully they can be able to lock in and we can go win this championship.”

Collins has been a hot name on the recruiting trail for a year and a half now — with 22 offers — but particularly with pushes the past month and a half from hometown LSU and nearby Florida State.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound passer ranks unanimously as a four-star prospect among the nation’s 200 best in his class at any position across the major recruiting outlets, including as high as No. 103 according to Rivals.

He has been a three-sport standout for the Panthers, including four years leading the football team’s offense, and a finalist in this past summer’s Elite 11 as one of the nation’s best players at his position.

“It’s really just a blessing and a good situation to be in,” Collins said. “The opportunity is big just to be able to have everyone out there, my family, coaches, family friends and everybody who was with me on the journey and in my corner through it all. It’s a tough decision because it’s long-term, but it’s just a blessing.”

Matthews has narrowed down a list of 33 scholarship offers to three finalists in Texas, Tennessee and Michigan.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound defensive back is also a unanimous four-star and top-200 prospect nationally, according to all four major networks, including as high as No. 125 by Rivals.

He has been a two-sport standout since childhood, including winning a track state championship as a member of the Panthers’ 4×200-meter relay team as a sophomore and preparing now for his third football season in the starting lineup.

“I just feel like I’m going to do what’s best in my heart and follow my heart,” he said. “My process is my process, and I ultimately wanted to do it before the season just to enjoy my senior year with my brothers and win a state championship.”

The duo will officially sign in December as two of the most prominent football prospects in Woodlawn’s history, regardless of their selections.

And Randall emphasized the extent that impact has had beyond their performances on the field.

“One thing is they both are leaders,” coach Marcus Randall said. “If you’re looking at the grade-point average, Jordan’s somewhere near a 4.5 and Rickie’s right at a 3.5 or 3.6. So they’re doing it not only on the field, but they’re doing it off the field. Their leadership has helped basically take us to the next level. We knew coming here that they were those type of guys, but we obviously had to see them get there.

“And we knew that when those guys would get rolling, that you’d not only see it for themselves, but now they’re bringing a lot of national attention here and that means a lot of our other guys get increased opportunities to get seen and get some recognition.”