Orleans Parish has announced its 2024 Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) Student of the Year Region 1 finalists and The Willow School is proud to announce that a Willow student has been selected in all three categories. Willow 5th grader William “Webb” Johnston for Elementary, 8th grader Sasha Mardon for Middle/Jr. High and 12th grader Jonathan Harwood for High School.
“We are so incredibly proud of these outstanding students and their accomplishments,” said The Willow School CEO Nicolette London. “They are leaders with great character, who serve their community, and are examples to us all. The Willow School is rooting them on in the regional competition and we know they are destined for great things.”
William “Webb” Johnston is Willow’s 5th Grade Student of the Year. He proudly represents The Willow School and New Orleans as he moves to the regional competition. Webb not only excels academically as part of the Gifted program, but he is an avid musician in the Talented in Music program at The Willow School. He loves music and enjoys playing the guitar and viola, which allow him to be a more versatile musician. When Webb isn’t perfecting his craft in the arts, he can be found playing goalkeeper on his soccer team. He has won many medals and earned a black belt in karate, and helps out as an assistant junior instructor. Webb also serves in the children’s ministry at his local church and performs with the student worship team. He aspires to be a neurosurgeon or lawyer in the future where he can use his gifts to help others. Webb says he is a proud New Orleanian who aspires to make New Orleans a safer and more equal place.
Sasha Mardon is an 8th grade scholar at The Willow School High School who is passionate about both Arts and STEM. She has been dancing since she was a toddler and credits dance and theater with building her confidence and her ability to effectively work in teams. She is an aspiring Engineer who is pursuing both Musical Theatre and Project Lead the Way Engineering programs at Willow. Sasha enjoys reading and shares that love with younger children when she volunteers as a reading buddy at New Orleans Public Library. Sasha also loves the Robotics club where she helps to create things that have a positive impact on her community. She is proud to be a part of a team that created cardboard stovetops with robotic, sizzling eggs to serve as toys that develop coordination for cerebral palsy patients at Ochsner. She dreams of her future where she can use her Engineering skills to create devices that help children with disabilities accomplish developmental milestones.
Jonathan Harwood is a senior who stands among the top of his class. National Merit Commended Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction and National Honor Society member are just a few of the merits he has received in his career as a high school student. With a proclivity for math, Jonathan chose to focus his elective studies on PLTW’s Engineering Program and membership on The Willow High School’s Robotic team, where he attended the Robotics World Competition with his team in Houston last school year. Jonathan is a member of the Willow High School Lacrosse team who have made it to the state playoffs two years in a row. He has also contributed numerous hours of service to his community through activities ranging from mission work in Central City to playing the electric guitar in his church’s Youth Worship Band. After graduation, Jonathan plans to attend college and prepare for a STEM career, specifically in engineering.
The overall winners (in elementary, middle, and high school grades) were selected by OPSB based on academic achievement, leadership skills, career and technical achievements, character, and service to their schools and communities. These winners will now move on to the regional competition, where the finalists will be chosen to be the Louisiana Students of the Year.
In March, the LDOE will name the student finalists in the state’s annual Students of the Year competition. The honorees included one fifth, eighth, and twelfth grade student from each of the state’s eight BESE regions. For more information on the LDOE Student of the Year,go here.
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