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Bright From The Start 2016

04/28/2016 08:20AM ● Published by Aimee Cormier

Gallery: Bright From The Start 2016 [12 Images] Click any image to expand.

Stories Of Acadiana’s Impressive Adolescents

By Shanna Perkins & Wynce Nolley

There are certain characteristics associated with youth – a fearlessness, a perseverance, an optimism, a determination. As life progresses, these attributes can be dimmed. But, we believe they should be celebrated and enriched so that the remarkable young people of today strive to become the fearless, moral and innovative leaders of tomorrow.  Bright From The Start aims to showcase the exceptional young people who call Acadiana home. 

We spoke with students who are making waves in the worlds of academia and sports. We heard from hard workers and free thinkers. We learned what their passions are, what drives them and what their futures hold. We humbly listened as a few of them discussed overcoming obstacles. Hopefully, these inspiring stories will incite that youthful fearlessness in all of us.  

This year’s Bright From The Start feature is dedicated to Markell Gregoire. Markell, who was featured in our 2015 Bright From The Start, passed away this February after a long battle with cancer. Thanks for allowing us to tell a small portion of your story, Markell.  

Hayden Folse, 11

5th Grade, Ernest Gallet Elementary School


I would watch ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and try all of the moves they would do. It was so much fun for me.”

Anna-Claire Davidson, 11

5th Grade, Ascension Episcopal School

Skateboarding Scholar

Skateboarding competitions have made me a better person, because it made me realize I don’t have to be afraid to talk to new people and make friends.”

John Crittenden, 18

Senior, Delcambre High School 

Artist & Aspiring Engineer

As a family, we went through a lot. [Mom] had the guts to pick her head up and get through it. She’s definitely my role model for always building me up, even when she was being put down.”

Dusti Bourque, 15

Freshman, Catholic High School

Pageant Queen

It’s exciting representing the Parish. It means a lot to me because it’s where I’m from – it’s where I grew up.”

Loren Bellow, 12 

7th Grade, Louisiana Connections Academy

Author & Speaker

“I try to inspire other children through my speeches,” Loren says. “I want them to be able to be who they are.”

Herbert Leavitt, 18 

Senior, Episcopal School of Acadiana


I love being outside and I’ve always wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to be outdoors.”

Abigail Segura, 14

8th Grade, Iberia Middle School

Aspiring Audiologist

I want to be able to do for other people what the doctors did for me.”

Avery Henke, 10 

5th Grade, St. Genevieve Elementary School 

The Next Michael Phelps

My goal is to make Olympic trials and to be chosen to represent the USA at the Olympic Games.”

NaTaéjah Charles, 18

Senior, New Iberia High School

Dancer & Volunteer

It’s important to have a relationship with God. Being a Christian all of my life, serving The Lord is definitely an important thing to do.”

Gage Bayard, 15 

Sophomore, New Iberia Senior High


Asked who he looks up to most, Bayard responds, “Jesus because who wouldn’t want to be selfless and perfect as him?”

Sarah Pierre, 18

Senior, Episcopal School of Acadiana

Leader & Athlete

For years, I’ve always been one of the athletes on campus and now it’s not ‘Sarah the athlete,’ it’s ‘Sarah the student body leader.’”

Jasmine Mitchell, 17

Senior, Teurlings Catholic High School, St. Martinville

Aspiring Ophthalmologist

For me to help people, not knowing what they’re going through – maybe it will make their day just a little bit brighter – it’s a feeling I can’t describe.”

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