2 Rapides Parish students of the year head to Baton Rouge, a first for the district

RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - High grades are just one of the points listed on Hayden R. Lawrence fifth-grader Mallory Byrd's resume.

"I'm the 4-H president in my school's 4-H club," Byrd said. "I like to volunteer and sing in my church choir."

Over in Alexandria, Rapides Academy eighth-grader Ava LaCour is building one too.

"I've been in BETA ever since it was offered," LaCour said. "I am the vice president of student council, I'm in FCA."

Both students were their school's student of the year.

"It was just a regular day and they announced it over the intercom," Bryd said. "I was really excited."

Every year, Louisiana school districts nominate students of the year at each elementary, middle, and high school who represent their student body in the best way possible.

Byrd won Rapides Parish Elementary School Student of the Year and LaCour won Rapides Parish Middle School Student of the Year.

"And they came over the intercom and said congratulations Ava LaCour," LaCour said. "I could not believe it."

But, they didn't stop there. Both students also claimed the regional student of the year title. Now, they are heading to Baton Rouge.

Student of the Year Coordinator Emily Walker couldn't recall a Rapides Parish student ever making it to the state competition, let alone two.

"We got the news that both of them won, I was just ecstatic," Walker said. "I really think that when I read the second email I started crying. I have been doing this for six years and we have never had a student go this far. It's amazing."

Nominations go beyond grades. Each student is scored on involvement and leadership roles.

"It's about the willingness to go above and beyond, work hard, put in the extra effort," said Rapides Academy Principal Jenifer Scott.

That includes creating change. LaCour loves reaching out to her peers.

"She asked if we could have a kindness week," Scott said. "She worked with us to develop and plan the kindness week. We continued it this year because it made a difference."

Byrd is involved with the community.

"I am passionate about foster care, we like to volunteer at the foster care closet in Alexandria."

And it just so happens both of them are close friends.

"We go to church together and it's really cool," Byrd said. "I've known her. She even gave me a toy kitchen play set when I was little."

"It's special knowing your friend got it as well," LaCour said of the award.

The Louisiana Student of the Year competition kicks off April 10th.

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