Antavion “Tay” Jacarri Moore through his own hard work has earned the honor of being the 2020 Louisiana High School Student of the Year. Out of 21 finalists, and countless students who applied for the award, Moore was selected based on criteria that measured academic achievement, leadership skills, character, and for the first time this year, their career and technical education achievements.
While the ceremony for the Student of the Year is traditionally hosted in Baton Rouge, the pandemic and the complications it brings along with it meant that a non-traditional solution was in order.
Not allowing the pandemic to prevent Moore from being recognized, Senator Robert Mills of Dist. 36 along with his Legislative Assistant, Brenda Autry, organized a ceremony at Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College, where many figures who had a role in Moore’s education and upbringing, as well as public officials, representatives, and community figures, all gathered with the express purpose of giving recognition to Moore and his accomplishments.
“His accolades are impressive, his accomplishments are impressive, and this gathering is impressive,” said Senator Mills.
“Tay, you’re surrounded by a lot of educators, titans of industry, public servants, city councilmen, state senators, and state representatives. You would get a bigger show in Baton Rouge but you wouldn’t get any more love than this.”
A brief summary and his accomplishments can be read from the Louisiana Department of Education’s statement on Moore that they released when he was announced as High School Student of the Year.
“Antavion Jacarri Moore is from Ringgold High School in Bienville Parish Schools. Antavion graduated from high school having already earned an associates degree and certificate of general studies. He excelled in dual enrollment, AP and CTE coursework. He plans to major in biomedical engineering in college so he can become an orthopedic physician,” the statement read.
“Academically gifted, he’s also a talented music student. Antavion represented Louisiana at the 2019 national 4-H conference, where he presented ideas on the future of agricultural leadership to the Department of Agriculture. In his community, Antavion attends the mayor’s monthly meetings and updates citizens on new ordinances and events. He’s also written a congressional bill on mandatory computer science curriculum in schools at the Citizenship Washington Focus.”
When asked how it felt to have so many people gathered in order to celebrate his accomplishments, Moore said, “I guess it’s a joy to be celebrated, patted on the back for the accomplishments that I’ve made. I’ve never really strived to achieve awards, but just to achieve greatness, just to help other people. It was Martin Luther King that said, ‘many people want to be famous, but everybody can’t be famous,’ but you can be great, because greatness is measured by service. So I’ve always tried to serve my community, be out there, and do my best in school.”
William Wysinger, Superintendent of Bienville Parish School System, was present in order to congratulate the star student that his school system had molded.
“I can’t take any credit for Tay, he’s an awesome young man. As Superintendent of the Bienville Parish School System, it’s a great honor to share in recognition of one of our students as the Louisiana High School Student of the Year,” said Wysinger.
“Antavion, we call him Tay,is a humble and model student who embodies the characteristics that we seek to instill in all of our students.
Our expectation is to make sure that our students understand the effectiveness and importance of knowledge and education. Knowledge is power, and education is the foundation of progress. These are the keys that will open doors and lead to greater achievements. Tay understands this, and he has, and is continuing, to prepare himself for greater achievements.”
Another person who was present who played a pivotal role in Moore’s education experience was Timothy Williams, Counselor at Ringgold Highschool. Williams recounted the moment that Moore stood out to him as an exceptional student, and steered him on the path towards meeting his full potential.
“When Tay came to our side in 6th grade, I saw what a remarkable man he was. One day I was patrolling the hallways like I always do, and I saw that the teacher had him grading papers. I went to his mother, and I said, they’re about to trick your son, we need to get him out of there and push him to his full potential,” said Williams.
“I’m so grateful that Kim and Antoine listened to me, and that’s the reason that Tay has those two associate degrees, he followed that path that we set in eighth grade, and thanks to BPCC and VOTECH for all that they have done for our kids.”
Other than Senator Mills himself, representatives from the Northwest portion of Louisiana who came to celebrate Moore, including Senator Barrow Peacock of Dist. 37 and State Rep. Wayne McMahen of Dist. 36.
Senator Peacock congratulated Tay, and affirmed that his accomplishments reflect well on the advancements made to the education system in our area of the state.
“Tay, I have to congratulate you and your family. This is a huge deal. This is the Student of the Year for all of the state of Louisiana,” said Senator Peacock.
“This accomplishment speaks volumes of you, of your family, of your schools, and of our state.”
“You are a shining example of the success that we’re having and the success we’re going to continue to have in our state with what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished. So congratulations. What you do is a shining star for our area of the state.”
State Rep. McMahen likened Moore and other students to plants in a garden, both needing proper care and support to reach their full potential.
“What you’ve accomplished here today, being Student of the Year for Louisiana, is just an amazing thing,” said State Rep. McMahen.
“A student like you, it starts when you’re born. It takes proper nourishment. Like a plant you fertilize it, you water it, and keep it in good soil, and it’s your family that’s done that.
We need more families like this, that nourish these young men and women. The difference in what we’re going to have as a country for your generation is in this room today.”
Milton Vining, Mayor of the Town of Ringgold, is both Mayor of Moore’s town of Ringgold and his Pastor as well. When recalling the years he had known Moore and why he was exceptional, Vining keyed the audience in on Moore’s musical talents that he had showcased at his church.
“We’re very excited for this young man. He is amazing in everything that he does. My wife started teaching piano to him in third grade, I believe it was, at an after school program, and now he’s better than she ever thought about being. We gave him an old accordian. Two weeks later he played a special on it at church. Somebody else gave him a saxophone. Two weeks later he played a special at church,” said Vining.
“He is gifted and talented, and anointed, and I don’t want us to lose sight of that. God gifts people. The bible says that he gives gifts to men, and he’s given him gifts.
He’s going to be in the church, he’s going to lift up the name of the Lord, and he’s going to bring great glory to God with anything that he does because his heart is right, his mind is right, and he had a tremendous family.”
Later during the Ceremony Senators Mills and Peacock presented Moore with the resolution that would record his title as 2020 Student of the Year into public record. Senator Peacock explained the importance of the resolution, stating, “They are a part of the history of Louisiana. When you have great-grandchildren, they will be able to look in the archives of our state, and be able to see this resolution about your success here.”
After hearing the praises for those around him, near the end of the ceremony Moore himself took to the podium to share some of his thoughts on his education as well as what he thinks people can do in order to help raise the best students possible.
“As these leaders have said, it started with me at home. When we’re trying to figure out how to have more kids ‘like me,’ I don’t think you should try to have more exactly like me, but you should try to have more kids who are striving to do their best.
We all know what our best is, but we have to look at ourselves and we have to ask ourselves, are we doing everything we can to impact this world, are we doing everything we can to reach every child that we can. Are we making education a priority in our homes? Are we being nice to other people? These are small things that I’ve lived by,” said Moore.
“This is not rocket science by chance that I’m here today, but by the mercy of God and just being a willing vessel that he can use. He wants to use all of you today. Continue to reach as many people as you can. I’ll try my best to keep on serving the community and keep on doing the things I’m doing. But don’t take so much time putting this attention on me when there are so many other youth out there that just want someone to reach them, when there are so many youth out there that have potential. May y’all continue to support those other youth and continue to have more people that can stand here today. I thank each of you for this. I’m far from deserving of it. I give God all the glory. Thank you.”
In response to Moore’s humble acceptance, Mills said“Tay you deserve all of it and more. We are encouraged by the future of education.”
“All of us should contribute more time, talent, and love to people like this, that are going to be our future. Somebody has got to take care of us, and I’m feeling pretty good about this one.”