Students Ashini Modi and Sunjay Letchuman are awaking this morning believing it’s twice as nice to be a part of Caddo. On Wednesday, Modi and Letchuman were named the Louisiana Middle and High School Students of the Year by The Louisiana Department of Education.
The announcement was made during an awards ceremony at the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge on Wednesday. Modi, an eighth grader at Caddo Middle Magnet, and Letchuman, a senior at Caddo Parish Magnet High, interviewed with state judges Wednesday to earn the titles. The Student of the Year competition recognizes students for their academic abilities, community leadership and willingness to positively affect others.
This marks the first time two Caddo students have won the state’s top honor in the same year.
“To say Ashini and Sunjay are incredible is simply an understatement,” Caddo Superintendent Dr. T. Lamar Goree said. “It takes no time at all with either student to see how special they are and how much they embody the ideals of Caddo Schools and the opportunities we strive to provide every child. We are immensely proud of their accomplishments and celebrate this wonderful recognition.”
Modi is no stranger to the Student of the Year competition. She’s been down this road before – competing as a fifth grader as a district and regional winner. A gifted artist, Modi’s works have been featured at the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion. Additionally, she is known for her willingness to help others and her sweet disposition. She is an optimist who strives to help and encourage others to be their best self. During her time at CMM, Modi established a 1,500 book library at Providence House as a means of providing children an escape and a source of passion in reading. A Prudential Spirit of Community winner, she seeks to find solutions and bridge the arts with all individuals.
“I am grateful for my family and my school and could not believe I won,” Modi said. “I am excited to represent Caddo and Louisiana especially with so many incredible students who could have won this award.”
Letchuman has numerous talents including his efforts as a writer. Publishing his first book this year, Letchuman also works with his fellow students to find solutions to local, state and national issues. He is an active participant in Magnet High’s AP Capstone coursework where he is studying the impact of living conditions on animals and is involved in Biomedical Research Foundation and LSU Health Science Center Shreveport’s Science and Medicine Academic Research Training (SMART) Program. As part of his work, he was the sole student in the state to advance to the semifinalist round in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology and placed first in the 2018 Louisiana Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
“I know I would 100 percent not be here without all of the people who have worked with me and inspired me including my parents, teachers and everyone that have helped along the way,” Letchuman said. “I am where I am because of them and they deserve this award more than I do.”
The 21 regional finalists in the running include one fifth, eighth and 12th grader from each of the state’s seven regions and represent public and non-public elementary, middle and high schools across Louisiana. Zoe Dieringer of Joseph B. Lancaster Elementary School in St. Tammany Parish won the Elementary School Student of the Year honor.
“Louisiana students are as smart and as capable as any in the nation. These incredible students and future leaders embody that sentiment,” said State Superintendent John White. “We are proud of the hard work they contribute to not only their schools and communities, but the entire state.”