Two Franklin Parish scholars’ hard work paid off as they enter the next chapter of their educational journey.
Trace Hilbun and Addison DeBlieux are graduates of the Louisiana School of Math, Science and The Arts (LSMSA) and former students at Franklin Community Christian School.
LSMSA, located in Natchitoches, offers students an accelerated curriculum including college-level courses as well as specialized electives and opportunities for independent study and research. The residential school held its first commencement in 1985 and since then more than 5,000 students, including Hilbun and DeBlieux, have received their diplomas.
Hilbun, who entered LSMSA his junior year, graduated with a 4.0 GPA and was inducted into the prestigious Dr. Robert A. Alost Hall of Fame.
Selection into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor a student can be awarded and is based on exceptional performance in academics, residential life, extracurricular activities and service. Each year, a committee comprised of faculty and residential life staff selects seniors for the award.
The honor is named for the school’s founding director, Dr. Robert A. Alost. Alost served as director of the school for four years before moving to NSU as president. Only four to six seniors are selected each year and a plaque with the student’s picture is placed on a wall.
“This award is named for Dr. Alost because of his vision and dedication those first crucial years in the history of LSMSA,” said Dr. Steve Horton, executive director.
During his time at LSMSA, Hilbun was an editor of a campus science
newsletter, writing tutor, school ambassador, teacher assistant, BETA Club president and part of the student government organization.
In an ironic twist compared to today’s society, Hilbun plans to study epidemiology in Dartmouth College. Epidemiology is a branch of medicine dealing with incidence, distribution and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health.
Founded in 1769, Dartmouth College is a member of the Ivy League and consistently ranks among the world’s greatest academic institutions.
“It is going to take some adjusting, but I’m looking forward to it,” Hilbun said.
A major adjustment for Hilbun will be the New Hampshire winters where temperatures can dip to below 0 degrees.
“It gets really cold there,” Hilbun said, laughing. “I’m going to have to learn to dress in layers.”
DeBlieux graduated LSMSA with a 3.8 GPA and obtained an associates degree in general studies. She is planning to attend LSU majoring in chemistry. After receiving her degree in chemistry, DeBlieux may attend med school.
Additionally, DeBlieux was accepted in LSU’s honors college where she will be able to start a thesis her junior year.
She also began her tenure at LSMSA as a junior after attending a four-week camp held on campus.
“This was a good transition for me,” DeBlieux said. “(LSMSA residential life) got me use to the classes and living on campus.”
While at LSMSA, she was a BETA Club member, a student ambassador, helped tutor fifth grade students and attended the gardening club.
DeBlieux is driven to succeed and will bring that same drive to LSU. She studied approximately 20 hours a week during her time at LSMSA. In her spare time, she is also an avid reader. DeBlieux estimates she has read more than 600 on-line books.
“I do not want to do bad in life,” DeBlieux said. “I strive to be successful.”
DeBlieux admits to being excited and slightly nervous with her first year
approaching at LSU, but said LSMSA has adequately prepared her for future challenges.
“(LSMSA) helped me get prepped for college,” DeBlieux said. “The teachers were university-level.”
The successful students bestowed similar suggestions when asked their input on becoming honor graduates.
“Participate in extracurricular activities,” Hilbun said. “Don’t stress about your grades, and don’t let yourself become burned out.”
DeBlieux proposed to learn time management.
“High school can be tough,” she said. “But, manage your time wisely.”