Reace: Hi! Welcome back to the Interns’ Chair. I am your Ascension Public Schools Information Office High School Intern and host, Reace Dedon. On the discussion table today is the process of becoming student of the year and how high school seniors can do it too.


This year, I was fortunate enough to be awarded the 2018-19 St. Amant High School and Ascension Public Schools’ 12th grade Student of the Year.

It was an extremely rewarding and humbling experience, so I would like to share it with future Student of the Year hopefuls. While each experience is unique, I hope my journey is helpful in your future endeavors.

There is no way to insure that you’re nominated as a candidate. My advice is to make your best effort in everything that you do. Your perseverance will not go unnoticed. I was not overly involved in clubs and community service, but the activities I did do, I put 110% of my effort and time into it. And that’s what it takes, dedication. An allegiance to your own beliefs and skill sets will take you much farther than you think.

In order to be the student of the year, you, of course, must first be nominated by a teacher or staff member of your school. Several students are chosen to submit a portfolio and essay at the high school level. Then, students are selected from that group to be conducted in an interview. After the interview, all that’s left to do is wait for the announcement. 

The anticipation makes it feel as if the process takes forever. But my number one advice is to stick with it. I knew so many people who were nominated and didn’t even turn in their portfolio because they assumed they wouldn’t win.

Don’t cheat yourself out like that. Do your best work, prove you’re worth their time. Your teachers chose you because they think you’re worth it, don’t miss out on this opportunity. 

On the high school level of competition, I was given a packet of information which told me how to construct my portfolio. It included my essay, transcripts, ACT scores, and school and community involvement.

After I was chosen as my High School’s Student of the Year, my portfolio was returned to me so I could make some corrections and additions. I was allowed 25 pages, front and back, to include as much information as possible. It’s best to use this to your advantage and fill every page. I included copies of my artwork since I am a member of the Talented and Gifted Art Program. I also included copies of certificates and awards I was given. 

After winning the district level of competition, my portfolio was not returned to me again for corrections. It was delivered to the state level directly from my district. Another bit of advice is to make sure your portfolio is exactly the way you want it before turning in to the district level because you most likely will not get another opportunity to make corrections.

Because I was chosen as the District’s High School Student of the Year as well, I went through several rounds of interviewing. And each interview was different. During my High School level interview, there was a lot of focus on my personal life and college plans. Since my interviewers were from my school and they knew me well, that interview was more personal. 

My Parish level interview focused on my artwork because I included it as a major component in my portfolio. 

My regional level interview as part of the state competition was very formal and impersonal. A round of general questions were asked by each interviewer, and I was quickly dismissed. It led me to believe my interview was not as crucial to the competition as my essay and portfolio. 

I felt as if the interviewers had already forgotten my name by the time I walked out of the room. If you find yourself in a similar situation, try to elaborate on your responses and offer as much information as possible.

The key to interviewing is confidence. While walking into a room of people who main purpose at that moment is, essentially, to judge you, you may feel terrified. There is really no reason to worry at all.

It’s simply a conversation all about you. And you know all the answers. Transparency is your best friend when it comes to interviews. It may not feel like it, but you own the room. They have questions and you have answers. It’s that simple.

Walking out of each interview, I knew that it didn’t matter if I won or not because I knew I did everything I could’ve done to put my absolute best foot forward. 

The PIO High School internship provided me with real world professional experience which set me apart. From it, I also gained a sense of maturity and diligence I couldn’t have found anywhere else. I strongly recommend that high school students take advantage of unique opportunities, like internships.

My suggestion is to have self-confidence and self-reassurance that you are worth this recognition. Being student of the year is such an honor.

This has been Reace Dedon, your PIO High School Intern and Host. Thank you so much for listening and tune in next time to the Interns’ Chair, but remember, I am just the intern.