BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today named the 2021 Students of the Year and honored all 21 regional finalists for the prestigious award during a virtual ceremony. This year’s state winners are Luka George Mikaberidze from Caddo Parish Schools and Zoe Alessandra Dieringer and Raedan Daniel Stephens from St. Tammany Parish Schools.
“Congratulations to Luka, Zoe and Raedan for being named Louisiana Students of the Year. I’m proud to have them represent our state,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “These young leaders have excelled at the highest levels among their peers and are an example of the level of education available in Louisiana.”
The overall winners, one student from the elementary, middle and high school grades, were selected based on criteria that measure academic and career and technical education achievement, leadership skills and character.
The 2021 Students of the Year are:
Elementary School (5th Grade)
Luka George Mikaberidze attends South Highlands Elementary in the Caddo Parish System (Region 1). Luka says he has many aspirations and hopes to make a difference and help people when he grows up. This first-generation American has his family roots in Soviet George and is fluent in Georgian and English. He is currently learning French and Mandarin Chinese to better communicate with others in the future. Luka has earned a 4.0 GPA while garnering numerous academic achievement awards and being a leader on his soccer and karate demonstration teams. This certified Junior Park Ranger aspires to be an astronaut in the future.
Middle School (8th Grade)
Zoe Alessandra Dieringer attends Madisonville Junior High in St. Tammany Parish Schools (Region 4). Zoe was named the Louisiana elementary student of the year in 5th grade. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her time in school and scored Advanced on all of her state assessments. This talented ballet performer and theatre student was chosen to portray Clara in the 2020 production of “the Nutcracker” produced by the Hammond Ballet Company. Zoe said that through school, volunteering, dance and everything she does in life, her journey is the road less traveled. Her perseverance has paid off thus far, and she hopes this will continue to do so in the future.
High School (12th Grade)
Raedan Daniel Stephens is from Mandeville High in St. Tammany Parish Schools (Region 4). This National Merit Semifinalist is recognized as a leader in his school, church and community. Raedan is a young entrepreneur who co-owns and operates a wooden watch company with his siblings. His industry-based certifications in computer technology have influenced his decision to pursue a major in biomedical engineering. He wants to one day engineer a device to interface with the brain as an aid for Alzheimer’s patients. Academically gifted, this AP Scholar with Distinction has served as class president for the last three years in addition to being a member of the Superintendent’s Advisory Council. Serving on the Louisiana Legislative Advisory Council has allowed him to represent his peers’ viewpoints at the state level.
The annual Louisiana Student of the Year competition has multiple steps. First, all public and nonpublic 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 success, career and technical achievements, 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 review the students' portfolios and writing samples, and conduct interviews with them. This year, as a result of the ongoing public health crisis, student interviews were conducted online.