Sterlington High School senior Graham Grunsky was recently recognized by the state Department of Education as one of 21 regional finalists in the state’s annual Students of the Year competition.

The 21 students include one 5th grader, one 8th grader, and one 12th grader from each of the state’s seven regions. The students represent public and non-public elementary, middle, and high schools across Louisiana.

“The Department of Education applauds these 21 regional finalists for being recognized as some of the top students in Louisiana,” said State Superintendent John White. “This is a tremendous accomplishment, and we are proud of their hard work and leadership.”

The annual competition has multiple steps. First, all public schools and non-public schools are asked to submit one candidate from their student body. Students then compete with their peers at the school system level, and winners advance to the regional competitions.

At the regional level, students are selected based on criteria that measure academic achievement, leadership skills, character and service to their schools and communities. Regional selection committees also use student-made portfolios of accomplishments, along with student writing samples and interviews, to assess the communications and critical-thinking skills of each candidate.

Prior to selecting the three overall state winners, a state selection committee made up of K-12, higher education and community leaders also reviews the students’ portfolios and writing samples and conducts interviews with them.

The finalists will convene at the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge on April 10 for an awards ceremony and the announcement of the state Students of the Year winners from each grade level.

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