Ellender student wins Teenager of the Year

A 17-year-old Ellender Memorial High School student won a coveted honor Saturday night when she was announced as the Terrebonne Parish Teenager of the Year at a dinner sponsored by the American Legion’s Lenox Hotard post 31 in Houma.

Sahar Muhawesh, daughter of Maruan Muhawesh and Soher Drabi, was among 29 local students nominated for the award.

Lee Shaffer III of the Legion post, one of the event organizers, said Sahar “has lived a life of service to others, and based on her past we can see that she will undoubtedly serve others in the future.”

For 59 years, a consortium of American Legion posts in Terrebonne Parish has made the Teenager of the Year choice. Each school in Terrebonne can nominate up to four students. The decision – which past judges acknowledge can be a difficult task – is based on volunteer service of the youth to schools, churches and communities, various achievements and letters of recommendation. The committee that weighs the nominations is made up of current and former post commanders from throughout the area.

Sahar has compiled a lengthy list of accomplishments that includes volunteering to aid coastal restoration and service on the Terrebonne Parish Youth Advisory Panel.

She is a winner of the Daughters of the American Revolution Essay contest and was ranked academically number one out of 178 students at Ellender.

Philip Martin, Terrebonne Parish Superintendent of Schools, said he is proud of all the students nominated for the honor, and certainly proud of Sahar’s achievement.

“She is so deserving, and she is so gracious,” Martin said. “All 29 represent the best of American youth, and any would have made a fine choice, but unfortunately only one can be selected. We congratulate her, and Ellender High. These are all wonderful young Americans.”

Sahar’s record, Shaffer said, “exemplifies what this award is about.”

“It is easy to see why she rose to the top during the judging process,” he said. “Ms. Mahawesh plans to be in our next generation of doctors, and I’m certain that she will accomplish that goal, but I’m also optimistic she will return to Terrebonne as one of our future servant-leaders.”

Shaffer also praised the volunteers who made the choice and helped organize the event.

“The veterans of the American Legion have done a wonderful job, again,” said Shaffer, himself an Air Force veteran. “They voluntarily served their country in the past and continue to serve their community today. I am proud of all their efforts all year long. These volunteers amaze me after each and every event.” •

Sahar Muhawesh, last year’s Terrebonne Parish’s Teenager of the Year, works on a 4-H project with a classmate at Ellender Memorial High School.