SPS Excels on State, National Academic Stage

Presidential scholar Ryan Keller (Photo credit; Conifer)
Presidential Scholar Ryan Keller (Photo credit: The Conifer)

(COVINGTON, La.) — St. Paul’s School has a large number of students who excel on an academic stage, most recently noted in ACT performance, the state literary rally, and the Presidential Scholar and National Merit programs.

In the Presidential Scholar Program, senior Ryan Keller was named this week as the top male student for the state of Louisiana, with fellow student George Cazenavette also named as one of only eight state finalists.

Presidential scholar Finalist George Cazenevet (Photo credit
Presidential Scholar Finalist George Cazenavette (Photo credit: The Conifer)

The first Presidential Scholar was named when Lyndon Johnson started this program in 1964 as a way to recognize the top 10 students in the country. According to Assistant Principal Joe Dickens, “It is more selective than being a National Merit winner.” Judges from the U.S. Department of Education look at both SAT scores, as well as what extracurriculars each student does.

Keller will join winners from other states for a free trip to Washington, D.C.. According to Dickens, the Presidential Scholar winners will be able to sit in on Congregational meetings and meet with the nation’s best scientist, poets, and experts from a variety of fields.

Yehia Elkersh recently received a perfect score on the English section of the ACT. (Photo By Jordan Kliebert)

Another student recently noted for academic achievement is Yehia Elkersh. When Elkersh came to SPS three years ago from Egypt, he knew very little English. However, last week, he received notice of a composite score of a 35 on the ACT, with a perfect score on the English section.

“This is an amazing accomplishment, considering that English is his second language,”  Dickens said.

Elkersh credits the school faculty for helping him to achieve this accomplishment.

“In the beginning, it was very hard,” said Elkersh. “I could not catch on to any of the idioms that people were using. Also, I went through a very rigorous English course with Bro. Ray (Bulliard) and Coach (Joe) Dickens. I knew mostly all of the rules of grammar, but with Coach Dickens’ class, it brought it all to mind. So, I would like to thank him for that,” said Sophomore Yehia Elkersh.

Newly named National Merit Scholars include (seated) Aaron Nguyen, Connor Lu, Jack Dubrieul, and Matthew Baldone and (standing) Beau Briggs, Max Gold, Ryan Keller, Waldon Perry and George Cazenavette. (photo by Karen Hebert)
This year’s National Merit Scholars include (seated) Aaron Nguyen, Connor Lu, Jack Dubrieul, and Matthew Baldone and (standing) Beau Briggs, Max Gold, Ryan Keller, Waldon Perry and George Cazenavette. (photo by Karen Hebert)

Another area where SPS students excel is the National Merit competition, which is based on the PSAT test, taken junior year. This year, nine students were honored as National Merit Scholars: Aaron Nguyen, Connor Lu, Jack Dubrieul, Matthew Baldone, Beau Briggs, Max Gold, Ryan Keller, Waldon Perry and George Cazenavette.

Although official results from this year’s testing will not be released until September, the school administration reports that initial feedback indicates that the SPS student body remains competitive.

Students who placed in the State Literary Rally include (front row) Aaron Nguyen, Ryan Meraux, Patrick Connolly, Nick Ashton, and (back row) Leland van Deventer, Luke Avenel, Mathew Baldone, Patrick Baldone, and Matthew Borgatti. Not pictured: Sam Giberga (photo by Karen Hebert)

On the state level, SPS recently sent 17 students to compete at the state Literary Rally, with 10 placing in their subjects, two winning first place overall. Ryan Meraux and Nick Ashton both finished first place in all divisions, Meraux in Pre-Calculus and Ashton in Journalism I. In Division II, Patrick Connolly finished second in Biology II, Matthew Baldone finished second in Physics, Aaron Nguyen finished third in Calculus, Matthew Borgatti finished third Spanish II, Samuel Giberga finished third in English IV, Luke Avenel finished fourth in Chemistry, Patrick Baldone finished fifth in English I, and Leland van Deventer finished fifth in U.S. History.

In a faculty memo announcing the Literary Rally winners, Dickens complimented the combined efforts of both the students and the teachers, noting, “This is not only a manifestation of their innate talents but also a reflection of your pedagogical prowess.”

In addition to these individual accomplishments, St. Paul’s has been honored by LSU as one of the top 20 schools in the state again this year, as they have every year for nearly a decade.

“The Golden Achievement Award is given by LSU to the top 20 schools in the state based upon spring testing results.  SPS has won the award every year since 2007,” said school President Bro. Ray Bulliard, FSC.

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