Berwick student represents area in Student of the Year race

Charles Chauvin
February 24, 2011
Harold Arabie Sr.
February 28, 2011
Charles Chauvin
February 24, 2011
Harold Arabie Sr.
February 28, 2011

Her principal, Stephen Russo, believes she has the total package: desire, the ability to focus, a great personality and a love of academics.

With that in mind, 10-year-old Kristina Ann Theriot will find out March 3 if she’s the state Department of Education’s fifth grade 2011 Student of the Year. Eighteen students from across the state are vying for the title.

Kristina was named a regional finalist earlier this month – beating every fifth grade student in the Tri-parishes for the opportunity to compete.

“It just feels amazing,” said Kristina, the daughter of Troy and Elizabeth Theriot. “I never believed that I could actually do it.

“Everything in my life has been like an adventure, but this is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me,” she added.

Kristina’s principal said of the youngster, “[She] talks every day just like that. I’ve seen lots of students with straight A’s, but few can express themselves like her. She’s got the total package.”

Russo observed the 10-year-old rarely answers a question with a “yes” or “no.” “She always answers with a statement and then backs it up,” he said.

Kristina aspires to become a veterinarian. “A few years back, my dog Candy died and that broke my heart. From then on, I’ve wanted to help animals live longer, healthier lives,” she explained.

A self-described dog lover, Kristina said her favorite animal is cute, soft and fluffy. “And they’re great companions, as some say, a dog is a man’s best friend.”

An excellent student, Kristina scored perfectly – 500 of 500 points – in math, reading and language on last year’s high-stakes LEAP test. That’s a rare accomplishment in the more difficult subjects, according to Berwick’s assistant principal Nicol Armato.

Kristina considers reading as her favorite subject, although she admits choosing is hard “because I feel as if [my classes] are all important in developing my body and my mind into a successful adult”

“But with every book I read, I feel as if I become the main character – sharing the same thoughts and feelings and wondering what will happen next,” she said. “In fact, I love reading so much that people literally have to pry me away from my books.

“I feel it’s better to learn something in a book than to zone out in front of the television; although, I do like to watch Animal Planet,” Kristina added.

Like a number of young girls, Kristina loves pink, enjoys church and likes country music – especially Taylor Swift.

Assistant principal Armato is hopeful for Kristina’s chances next week in the Student of the Year competition.

“A lot of who she is her personality,” Armato said. “She has a lot of friends and she likes challenging herself in an appropriate way. When one of her friend wins or accomplishes something, she’s so ecstatic for them.”

Berwick administrators ultimately select the school’s Student of the Year. Russo said teachers nominate students among the school’s four 5th grade classes. Following an initial interview, students are asked to write an essay and submit a portfolio with their accomplishments.

“Kristina blew the judges away then,” he said, “and we expect her to continue to do so. She is very precise and is meticulous with detail.”

Ten-year-old Kristina Theriot, a fifth grader at Berwick Elementary School, is in the running for the state’s fifth grade Student of the Year. HOWARD J. CASTAY JR.