Leon County announces student finalists for Best & Brightest Awards

Leon County announces student finalists for Best & Brightest Awards
Posted at 12:16 AM, Mar 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-02 04:57:02-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Leon County’s most outstanding high school seniors were selected this week as the 158 finalists in 2018 for the 13th Anniversary of the Best & Brightest Awards.

The awards recognize and honor public and private school students who excel both academically and in service to school and community.

The finalists from each school will next undergo an interview process culminating in the Best & Brightest Awards Ceremony, to be held May 16 at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, at which countywide winners will be announced.

“This year’s student leaders who are so deservedly honored in this program reflect the highest caliber of dedication to academics and demonstrate excellence in all that they do,” said Laura Rogers, program director of World Class Schools and coordinator of The Best & Brightest Awards. “I am proud to recognize these young people who place a priority on service to others as an ethic to be embraced for life.”

The program has recognized more than 1,800 exceptional public and private high school seniors and awarded more than $575,000 in scholarships since its inception.

The program is sponsored by Envision Credit Union, in partnership with Leon County Schools, World Class Schools of Leon County, The Tallahassee Democrat, Sachs Media Group, Rogers Gunter Vaughn Insurance, NAI Talcor, Sperry & Associates, Florida Cancer Specialists and The Florida League of Cities.

On March 3, panels of select community leaders will interview the 2018 finalists on topics such as foreign language, technology and drama to determine the winners of the countywide awards.

This year, 158 finalists will be evaluated on their academic achievement, leadership, and community service. A winner, runner-up, and honorable mention recipient will be named from each category.

To reach this point, finalists have demonstrated a solid record of academic achievement and expertise in one of 15 competitive categories in addition to school and community service.

First-place winners in each category will receive scholarships of $1,500; runners-up will be awarded $750; and honorable mention recipients will receive $500. All other finalists will receive a $100 scholarship in recognition of their superlative accomplishments.

In addition to celebrating high school students, the Best & Brightest Awards program reaches out to younger Leon County students. The program conducts an Eighth Grade Essay Contest, and three students from across the county will win awards ranging from $100 to $500.

The contest provides middle school students with much-needed positive reinforcement and helps encourage them to reflect on the importance of community involvement and academic achievement as they enter their high school careers.

Another feature of the program, first introduced six years ago, is the Spirit of the Best & Brightest Award, presented to the Best & Brightest winner who best exhibits a deep commitment to civic duty and service. That student will receive a $2,500 scholarship commemorating the late Brooks Rogers, in addition to his or her Best & Brightest scholarship award winnings.

The finalists are:

Art: Jasmine Blake (FSUS), Katherine Dowdy (Maclay), Karsyn Fletcher (SAIL), Olivia Kercheval-Roig (Leon), Julia Martinez-Miller (Chiles), Trenton McCray (Rickards), Daniela Soto Angulo (Godby), Jack Vo (Lincoln), Zoe Whittaker (JPII)

Athletics: Pawan Badisa (Rickards), Jackson Barber (Leon), Jordan Latimer (JPII), Sarah McCrackin (FSUS), Abigail Post (CCS), Alicia Price (NFC), Tyler Pye (Godby), Lonzetta Simpkins (Lincoln), Alexander Sobeski (Home School), Mary Waddell (Maclay), Ana Wallace (Chiles)

Business: Jordan Brown (FSUS), Lindsay Magar (SAIL), Kyle Moran (JPII), Mallory Morgan (Leon), Ean Scanameo (Rickards), Estella Waczewski (Chiles), Deborah Willett (Godby), Elizabeth Zhang (Lincoln)

Career: Austin Busbee (NFC), Gabrielle Cannella (Chiles), Ezekiel Coleman (SAIL), Linlee Franklin (Maclay), Martine Fredrickson (Leon), Chelsie Himmer (FSUS), Seth Kemeny (JPII), Raven Kiele (Lincoln), Anvitha Mandapati (Rickards), Jevon Price (Godby)

Drama & Performing Arts: Mercy Bickell (Maclay), Tyra Brown (Godby), Melanie Bynum (SAIL), Camila Calderon (Chiles), Amelia Cooper (Leon), Jamie Johnson (Home School), Shreya Kondapalli (Rickards), Abigail Leaman (Lincoln), Kelsey Neugent (NFC), Joshua Weinstein (FSUS), Mary-Sheldon Williams (JPII)

English & Language Arts: Anna Campbell (SAIL), Chloe Caylor (Chiles), Joshua Chang (Lincoln), Joshua Ciarlariello (CCS), Takeia Davis (FAMU DRS), Chandler Downie (Maclay), Sarah Halbert (Rickards), William Jones (Godby), Andrea Mendoza (JPII), Cynthia Paterson (Leon), Skylar Rainey (FSUS), Kalyn Tyson (NFC)

Foreign Language: Emma Bonney (Chiles), Jordan Burney (Godby), Alexander Caspary (Lincoln), Benjamin Eacker (JPII), Brenda Gikunda (Rickards), Gabrielle Goke (SAIL), Jade Hofbauer (Leon), Anna Lewis (Maclay), Shealyn Sullivan (Home School), Aashari Willliams (FSUS)

Journalism: Abbygale Cloud (Chiles), Josephine Finn (JPII), Lexi Fitzpatrick (Lincoln), Star Khan (SAIL), Cristin McKee (Home School), Lauryn Parker (Maclay), Lauren Shirley (FSUS), Hannah Wong (Leon), Chyna Wright (Godby), Phillip Wright (Rickards)

Leadership: Helen Abernethy (FSUS), Cameron Fink (Leon), Asya Griffin (FAMU DRS), Azure Harvey (SAIL), Slade Machado (CCS), Jalen McClees (Godby), Elsa Meyer (Chiles), Moira Newsome (JPII), Tareq Salley (Rickards), Daniel Sweeney (Maclay), Victoria Trawick (NFC), Nicholas Wolfe (Lincoln)

Mathematics: Daniel Bryant (JPII), Caroline Englert (Leon), Carson Jones (Rickards), Michael Jones (FAMU DRS), Luke McCarthy (FSUS), Paris Miller (Maclay), Graham O'Donnell (Lincoln), Jaimie Souders (SAIL), Brian Vilmenay (Godby), Joanna Wang (Chiles)

Music: Odessa Deng (Chiles), Michaela Fredrickson (Leon), Josie Kriss (Rickards), William Lacayo (FSUS), Samuel McAnally (CCS), Amalie Ostertag (SAIL), Jarvis Rittman (Godby), Daniel Spainhour (Lincoln), Claire Thaler (Virtual School), Kathryn Whisenant (JPII), Peter Yang (Maclay)

Public Speaking: Sharia Ablornyi (SAIL), Jackson Blay (Chiles), Samieryah Bradwell (Godby), Landon Coles (Leon), Emauria Ling (FSUS), Jared Pichard (Maclay), Katherine Sorrell (Rickards), Jacob Stavres (JPII), Kenyah Williams (FAMU DRS), Reagan Williams (CCS), Caleb Wilson (Home School), Morgan Zettle (Lincoln)

Science & Health: Khadeja Ahmed (Maclay), Evan Bouck (CCS), Simone Chandler (SAIL), Hunter Hanstein (FSUS), Tia Huie (Godby), Laiken Kinsey (NFC), Ziwei Lin (Lincoln), Virginia Lucas (JPII), Venkata Sai Charitha Moparthy (Rickards), Annie Pham (Virtual School), Keyanna Smith (FAMU DRS), Caylynne Teem (Leon), Cynthia Wang (Chiles)

Social Science: Alexis Bondi (JPII), Andrew Colvin (Chiles), Antionna Grant (FAMU DRS), Doherty Guirand (Leon), Anna Martin (Lincoln), John Menton (Maclay), Andrew Rakestraw (FSUS), Olivia Saunders (Rickards), Jonathan Wynn (CCS)

Technology: Samantha Bickel (FSUS), Joshua Choi (Godby), Ibrahim Fagbamila-Zakare (Lincoln), Patrick Hollis (JPII), Hana Kiros (Rickards), Michael Molen (Chiles), Elijah Murphy (Leon), Emily Symeon (SAIL), Lee Williams (Maclay), Katelyn Wood (NFC)