by Corey Poole

The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) held its annual Senior Recognition Ceremony to honor the Class of 2022. The ceremony celebrated personal character, academic excellence, and development of skills in each academic disciplines.

Senior Lecturer of Mathematics and Computer Science Dave Andersen served as Master of Ceremonies, Senior Class President Ella Abney of Slidell led the Pledge of Allegiance and Student Government Organization President Olutunmike “Tum-Tum” Adeleye of Natchitoches delivered the welcoming address to her fellow classmates.
“As a senior class, we have persevered through our fair share of trials and tribulations,” said Adeleye. “At LSMSA we learned how to become our most successful selves.”

At the end of her speech, Adeleye was given an honorary gavel plaque for her leadership and service to SGO.

Each major discipline—Creative and Performing Arts, Math and Computer Science, Humanities, Languages and Science—granted Excellence Awards to seniors who best epitomized those individual departments. Each department also introduced a chosen Gonfaloniere, or “flag bearer,” who was deemed to embody excellence in that discipline. These students were privileged to carry the Gonfalon for their respective department at the Commencement Ceremony procession.
Abney received the honor of being the Gonfaloniere for the Creative and Performing Arts Department; Jordan Hoffman of Ragley was chosen to represent the Humanities Department; Sunny Jahanara Yusufji of Shreveport was selected to hold the Languages Gonfalon; Alex Bazzelle of Livonia was chosen to represent the Math and Computer Science Department; Travis Elmore of Slidell was chosen as the Sciences Department’s Gonfaloniere; and Brandon Turner of Sulphur was selected as the school’s first Health & Physical Education Gonfaloniere. 

Graduation with Distinction was awarded to four students in the Class of 2022 who completed a program of independent academic study or artistic endeavor beyond formal course requirements. In their junior year, these students were invited to identify their potential project, then undertook an intense program of reading, research, and creative activity throughout their senior year. The students’ culminating presentations took place during the school’s Blue & Gold Week, an annual celebration of student research and artistic accomplishments. The following LSMSA seniors graduated with distinction: Madeline Core of Paulina; Travis Elmore of Slidell; Jordan Hoffman of Ragley; and Riley Leger of Slidell.

In addition to their high school diplomas, 22 seniors received their Associate’s degrees, and four graduates who are children of LSMSA alumni received legacy coins from LSMSA Alumni Association Natchitoches Liaison Matthew Couvillion (’93) of Many.

Jake Touchet of Lake Charles was the winner of the Eric Candell Excellence in Physics Award. The award, created in memory of a 1987 graduate, is granted with a $100 check gifted by the Candell family to a student who has developed considerable mastery in the subject of Physics. 

The Marvin Lockhart Work Service Award was developed in memory of one of LSMSA’s charismatic former employees and was presented to Brady Covington of Walker, Jillian McDougal of Baton Rouge, and Griffin McFarland of Natchitoches for illustrating selflessness, dedication, dependability, and an unrelenting desire to help their peers and those in their community.

HaYa Davis of Hammond received the Sharon Sturdivant Williams Praecellemus Award. Named after one of the founding members of LSMSA’s administration, students who are selected for this honor best represent the school’s motto, “We Shall Excel.”

Two students, Hailey Flynn of Pineville and Sunny Yusufji of Shreveport, received the Spirit of LSMSA award. This award recognizes students who best exemplify the pillars of LSMSA school spirit, demonstrating hard work, perseverance, service, involvement, and camaraderie.

Five seniors were inducted into the Robert Alost Hall of Fame. Named after the school’s founding director, this is considered the highest honor bestowed upon LSMSA seniors, with students being hand-picked by a committee of faculty and residential life staff members. New LSMSA Hall of Fame members are Brandon Turner of Lake Charles, Lily Blanchard of Lafourche Parish, Leah Swanstrom of Natchitoches, Thaleia Dufrene of Hammond, and Tum Tum Adeleye of Natchitoches.

Following the awards, each senior presented their college choice on stage, with 67 percent of the Class of 2022 attending universities in Louisiana, 33 percent attending schools across the country and abroad.

The ceremony concluded with a heartfelt closing speech by Livy Zachary of Youngsville titled “Nothing New.” 

“LSMSA is known for it unique ability to allow students to explore and thrive in niche areas of study, but the reason for its students’ success is not due to the difficulty of our work, but rather to the environment and professors that allow us to grow and thrive as people,” said Zachary. “…as we fly the nest, we must remember to not get too caught up in the fear of the unknown…remember the trust we found in ourselves at the little old Louisiana School.”
The state-funded, tuition-free school for high-achieving, highly motivated sophomores, juniors, and seniors in Louisiana is still accepting applications for the 2022-2023 school year. For more information and to submit your application, visit

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