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Meet our Jefferson Parish Schools Students of the Year

Jefferson Parish Schools named its winners for the Louisiana Department of Education’s 2020 Louisiana Students of the Year Awards Program.

The winners are:

  • Gretna No. 2 Academy 5th grader Smaran Tamidela
  • Haynes Academy 8th grader Unmesh Chakravarty
  • Haynes Academy 12th grader Kevin Kim

“Congratulations to each of these deserving students for the hard work and dedication they put in to earn this honor.” said JP Schools Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley. “They are outstanding representatives for our district and all of them would be a wonderful choice for state student of the year. ”

These three students are now eligible to become a 2020 Louisiana Student of the Year. The Students of the Year Awards Program is designed to recognize outstanding elementary, middle, and high school students. This program recognizes students who have demonstrated excellent academic and/or Career and Technical achievements, leadership ability, and citizenship. The Students of the Year Awards Program is sponsored by the Louisiana State Superintendent through the State Department of Education and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Gretna No. 2 Academy 5th grader Smaran Tamidela is the JP Schools Elementary School Student of the Year. Tamidela is a regular on his school’s honor roll and for the Superintendent’s Award. He’s helped his school’s robotics team place in local and regional competitions. Tamidela placed second in a statewide youth writing contest, which earned him a trip to Baton Rouge where he met Governor John Bel Edwards. His favorite extracurricular activity is the Boy Scouts. Along with being recognized for his hard work and dedication, Tamidela was also awarded by the scouts for creating the most fuel efficient derby car. 

“School is very important to me, but many other aspects of life make me the person I am,” said Tamidela. “My family is special and they have taught me little daily lessons that helped to shape my character today.”

Haynes Academy 8th grader Unmesh Chakravarty is the JP Schools Middle School Student of the Year. Chakravarty is competitive when it comes to academics and extracurricular activities. He’s placed in math and robotics competitions, plays on the Haynes football team, volunteers at a local library, and is an accomplished musician. He found a home when he discovered his school’s Academic Games team. Chakravarty is his team’s president and a top 15 nationally ranked player. Along with the awards and accolades, he said Academic Games has been a gateway to new friends, role models, and motivation to accomplish his goals. 

“The greatest change I’ve experienced since joining Academic Games are the new friendships I have made,” said Chakravarty. “I have been able to connect with people everywhere who had a similar mindset as mine and start long-lasting and meaningful friendships.”

Haynes Academy 12th grader Kevin Kim is the JP Schools High School Student of the Year. Kim is a National Merit Semifinalist and an Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction. Kim is one of only two Louisiana students selected to the United States Senate Youth Program. He serves the Louisiana Legislative Youth Advisory Council as an at-large councilman and has volunteered with numerous local and state political campaigns. Politically minded and passionate about civic engagement, Kim is the National Red State Coordinator and Louisiana State Chairman for the High School Democrats of America. Appreciative for his experiences and guided by faith, Kim sees opportunity in every challenge he faces. 

“Everything that has led up to this point in my life has been a blessing,” said Kim. “Yes, it is composed of negative experiences, but what is life without the ups and downs? How could anyone ever develop into a better person and citizen without a life littered with lessons.”