DERIDDER, La. (Fort Polk Progress) - DeRidder Junior High School eighth-grader Riley Phillips embraces his school, engaging in as many activities as he can and striving for academic excellence.
At school, Phillips plays basketball and has also immersed himself in the arts.
"I like to draw," Phillips said. "My teachers encourage me to be creative and have fun."
Phillips, a military-connected student, is also committed to his academic success. He proudly said he gets As and Bs in his classes, and most recently, achieved straight-As in his latest report card.
"It made me feel happy," Phillips said. "My academics are important to me as a student because I want to get a scholarship."
When asked what motivates him in school, he said, "I want to go to college."
Phillips said his favorite subject is science "because I like learning about the Earth."
His science teacher at DeRidder Junior High School, Jennifer Galloway, describes Phillips as a leader who is always prepared.
"He is always involved in whatever we're doing," Galloway said. "If we're doing a whole class discussion, he's always one of the first to raise his hand and give some input. If he's in a group, he's taking charge to complete whatever the group needs to get done."
Galloway enjoys seeing Phillips succeed academically and his love of science grow.
"He's always very interested in whatever topic it is that we're learning about," Galloway said. "He's a good role model for the other students as far as displaying leadership skills and eagerness to learn in class."
She said it's fulfilling to see Phillips continuously striving for academic excellence.
"It's a good feeling for me as a teacher to see that he is reciprocating what I'm teaching; it makes me feel like I'm doing my job," Galloway said. "It validates that I'm getting the content across and that the activities that I have planned are working and are interesting to the students."
In his spare time outside of school, Phillips stays busy, but also takes time to rest.
"I like sleeping, building computers, and playing games with my friends," he said.
Looking to the future, Phillips already has big career plans at a young age.
"I would like to be a game developer," he said.
He said he has received plenty of support from his teachers and school to get to where he is today.
"I get help when I need it and I have the resources for help at home," he said.
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