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LPB Announces the 2021 Louisiana Young Heroes!

The Louisiana Young Heroes logo | 2021 | current official

Louisiana Public Broadcasting is proud to present the 26th anniversary of the Louisiana Young Heroes Program and announce the six high school students being recognized as this year’s Louisiana Young Heroes.

This year’s Louisiana Young Heroes are:

Jackson Cantrell of Mandeville – 12th grader at Mandeville High School

Kathryn “Lexie” Davis of Hammond – 12th grader at Ponchatoula High School

Ivory Gipson of Baton Rouge – 12th grader at Northeast High School

Elliott Gomes of New Orleans – 9th grader at Benjamin Franklin High School

Hannah Lewis of DeRidder – 12th grader at Louisiana School for Math, Science, and The Arts

Michael Vizena of Elizabeth – 10th grader at Elizabeth High School

(Full bios in links)

“LPB is delighted to introduce these extraordinary students from around the state as Louisiana Young Heroes. Especially given the challenges of the past year, it is our honor to recognize these six deserving high school students, who continue to be role models in their communities,” Beth Courtney, President and CEO, LPB. A Young Hero is defined as an exceptional high school student who has excelled in academics, given significantly of themselves through public service, overcome adversity, exhibited extraordinary heroism, or inspired others through their deeds and strength of character.

Jackson Cantrell is a National Merit Scholar, whose research into lives of enslaved and Native groups began when he installed two historical markers at Fontainebleau State Park, a former 1800s sugar plantation. He discovered 153 names of family members held in bondage. He documented these findings, as well as information on local indigenous nations. State historians published both works online and papers are also on file with Amistad Research Center. Jackson, Eagle Scout of the Year, has contributed 400+ hours in public service.

Kathryn “Lexie” Davis is an honor student, who also studied at the ProStart & Culinary Arts foodservice management program. Lexie provides meals to patients at the North Oaks Dialysis Center and volunteers with the Red Cross and her church. During the pandemic, she has also volunteered with “Meals for the Multitude,” a program through N. A. James Funeral Home, and then began her own community meals program, “Food For The Souls.” She’s a role model for all who encounter her.

Ivory Gipson has maintained a near-perfect GPA while being a three-sport varsity athlete in baseball, basketball, and football; a Baton Rouge Youth Coalition Fellow; and vice president of the Goal Society, a college-focused school club. Ivory dedicates almost as much to the Northeast High community as to his family. His proudest accomplishment is caring for his four-year-old niece since she was born. He’ll attend Skidmore College on a full scholarship. His potential is limitless because his determination is unmatched.

Elliott Gomes is an honor student, who consistently sees the good in everyone. Elliott especially loves World War II history and was invited to speak at the Airman Veteran Conference. Even in challenging situations, Elliott is determined to be part of the solution. He provided free weekly online tutoring to children in his neighborhood during the pandemic, and led fundraising efforts to provide tuition for an orphan at the Petals School of Africa, build a well in Tanzania and to feed the homeless in New Orleans.

Hannah Lewis is a straight A student, who is involved in many academic, civic and community activities. In the last year, Hannah has not only had to endure two hurricanes causing major damage to her home, she has suffered the unexpected death of her mother. Despite her grief, Hannah continues to be an inspiration. Through her church, she has done yard work for the elderly, made stuffed animals for the Hug-A-Bear project and promoted service dogs for veterans. Hannah has been awarded the Outstanding Student Merit-based Scholarship to Louisiana Tech.

Michael Vizena began his journey in foster care at age 3. At the age of 9, he finally found his forever family. His kind demeanor and positive spirit were evident from the start. Diagnosed with Leukemia at 14, he completes his treatment in January 2022 and hopes to become a Child Life Specialist. His community has adopted a "Michael Strong" outlook on life. Michael worked with community and local businesses to host blood drives though LifeShare Blood Center. Over 150 units of blood have been donated in his name.

The Louisiana Young Heroes will receive special awards and recognition. Each Young Hero’s story will be featured on Louisiana: The State We’re In in the coming weeks, as well as the Louisiana Young Heroes Facebook Page.

The Louisiana Young Heroes Program is being presented this year with the generous support of AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana, the U.S. Army, Baton Rouge Recruiting Battalion, Community Coffee, and East Baton Rouge Parish Library with additional support from Hotel Indigo and DEMCO.

For photos and more information about each of the Young Heroes visit lpb.org/heroes.

About Louisiana Public Broadcasting:

Since 1975, Louisiana Public Broadcasting has been the public television network for the state of Louisiana with stations in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport. LPB’s mission is to improve the lives of all Louisianans with the highest quality programming that educates, enlightens and entertains and that showcases Louisiana’s unique history, people, places and events reaching audiences over-the-air, on the web, in the home and in the classroom.