World Class Schools Announces The Best & Brightest Award Winners for 2024

Leon County Top High School Seniors demonstrate Academic Achievement and Community Service The Best & Brightest Awards Announces School-Based Winners

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Leon County’s most outstanding high school seniors were selected for the 19th year as the 134 finalists in the 2024 Best & Brightest Awards, which recognizes and honors public and private school students who excel both academically and in service to their school and community. The finalists from each school underwent an interview process culminating in the Best & Brightest Awards Ceremony, to be held Wednesday, May 15th, in which countywide winners will be announced.

“These students represent the best young minds in Leon County. Their dedication to service, academics and their community is remarkable,” said Laura Rogers, program director of World Class Schools which is a program of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and coordinator of the Best & Brightest Program. “Each year, I am astonished by their commitment to succeed and realize their goals. These high-achievers bring a spark to all who meet them and the energy will be amazing when we gather to honor them all at our awards ceremony in May.” The Best & Brightest Awards program, now in its nineteenth year, has awarded almost $900,000 in scholarships to over 2700 private and public high school seniors since its inception in 2006. The Best & Brightest Awards program’s premier sponsor is Envision Credit Union in partnership with Leon County Schools, World Class Schools of Leon County, The Tallahassee Democrat, Sachs Media, Gay and Ron Sachs, HUB International, Leon County Government, The City of Tallahassee, Comcast, Sperry Construction and the Florida League of Cities.

“The significant achievements of these seniors and their earnest commitment to service provides great hope for the future they will lead,” said Ron Sachs, chairman of Sachs Media and founder of the Best & Brightest Awards. “Their dedication to selfless service is an example to inspire and to cause other young people to aspire to be like them in service — to make the world a better place.”

On March 2nd, panels of select community leaders interviewed the finalists on subject areas such as public speaking, technology, and science to determine the winners for the countywide awards. This year, the 134 finalists will be evaluated on their academic achievement, leadership, and community service. A winner, runner-up, and honorable mention recipient will be named from each category.

To reach this point, finalists have demonstrated a record of academic achievement and expertise in one of 15 competitive categories. First-place winners in each category will receive scholarships of $1,500; runners-up will be awarded $750; and honorable mention recipients will receive $500. All other finalists will receive a $100 scholarship in recognition of their superlative accomplishments.

In addition to celebrating high school students, the Best & Brightest Awards program recognizes 59 younger Leon County students. The program conducts an Eighth Grade Essay Contest available to all middle schools in the Leon area. Three students will be chosen and win awards ranging from $100 to $500. The contest provides middle school students with opportunities to expand their experience and get awarded for it. The essay helps encourage them to reflect on the importance of community involvement and academic achievement as they enter their high school careers.

Another feature of the program, first introduced twelve years ago, is the Spirit of the Best & Brightest Award, commemorating the late Brooks Rogers. Presented to one of the top Best & Brightest winners who most exemplifies a deep commitment to civic duty and service, the student will receive a $2,500 scholarship in addition to his or her primary scholarship award winnings.

This year’s Seniors for the 2024 Best & Brightest Awards are:

Art Category: Jazlyn Howell (Chiles), Manjari Manoharan (Rickards), Saniah Maul (Godby),
Onyinyechukwu Okoli (FSUS), Isabella Pence (SJPII Catholic), Liana Rieger (Leon), Desiree Scorsone
(Lincoln), Mary Clayton Soto (Maclay), Serendipity Thompson (SAIL)

Athletics Category: Shaniah Bennett (Rickards), Carson Freeland (CCS), Kaitlyn Guyer (Maclay), Mary
Kerce (SAIL), Ashlyn Koerner (Lincoln), Patrick Koon (Leon), Camden Methvin (NFC), Aniyah Perry
(Godby), Cannon Ramsey (FSUS), Ryan Sumner (Chiles)

Business Category: Evelyn Guerrero (Godby), Christina Heil (SAIL), Rajan Jinadra (Maclay), Kenedi Lowe (FSUS), Kaylee Sandell (Leon), Kevin Wang (Rickards), Nelson Zhao (Chiles), Lydia Zhao (Lincoln),

Career/Technical Category: Nikolette Davis (Godby), Aria Fisher (Leon), Alexander Hawkes (FSUS),
Abhigna Konanur (Rickards), Karen Liang (Chiles), Korey Rosier (NFC), Nia Sampson (Lincoln), Skylar Van Whittle (SAIL), Eva Yi (Maclay)

Drama & Performing Arts Category: Peyton Bradford (CCS), Louis Dearman (Maclay), Natalie Gordon (Godby), Mallory Greisl (Leon), Oliver Jacobs (SAIL), Ella Leaman (Lincoln), Carter Nelson (FSUS), Jenny Nguyen (Rickards), Ivey Grace Ruff (Chiles), Trevor Waller (Home School)

English & Language Arts Category: Jonah Blay (Chiles), Dilahan Cavusoglu (FSUS), Karis Cliburn (CCS), Madison Decker (CLA), Sarah Duclos (Lincoln), Camille Friall (Leon), Ajax Jackson (Rickards), Sophia Krizner (Maclay), Llayna Maul (Godby), Layla Renfroe (SAIL)

Journalism & Media Production Category: Kayla Farlin (FSUS), Amelia Haggins (Leon), Dream Hogan (FAMU DRS), Leah Kiros (Maclay), Seth Pohler (CCS), Cathryn Reed (Chiles), Alice Scholl (Lincoln), Aubrey Stevens (Rickards)

Leadership Category: Madeleine Byrd (FSUS), Katie Chapman (NFC), Helen Conn (Leon ), Yasmine
Delgado (Godby), Madelyn Ellis (Home School), Copeland Frazee (Maclay), Erin Hinson (Lincoln), Avery
Miller (Chiles), Haylei Rackley (FAMU DRS), Hansini Reddy (Rickards), Citrus Thomas (SAIL)

Mathematics Category: Kenyera Caitlin Barrett (Godby), Lainey Colson (NFC), Fabian Delgado (FSUS),
Navya Kommu (Rickards), Harrison Mantzanas (Lincoln), Clark Mitchell (Maclay), Nima Mollaei (Chiles),
Samuel Plettl (CLA), Noah Summerlin (Leon)

Music Category: Karl Akuoko (Rickards), Christopher Blair (SAIL), Mary Caitlin Boulo (Home School),
Lainey Ford (Maclay), Sean Gonzalez (Lincoln), Timothy Hunter (Godby), Alexandra Jones (Leon),
Matthew Kahn (Chiles), Kyla Rogers (FSUS)

Public Speaking Category: Kinleigh Bass (Chiles), Venkat Maddipoti (Maclay), Sri ram Marthi (Lincoln),
Victoria McQueen (Leon), Ivan Rabbath (FSUS), Aditi Tula (Rickards)

Science & Health Category: Eric Brooks (FAMU DRS), Kaylah Feldman (CLA), Donovan Graven (NFC),
Triniece Haynes (Godby), Emmie Klekamp (Leon), Marcus Lampkin Jr. (Lincoln), Shaoyang Ma (Chiles),
Shiv Patel (Maclay), Haligh Smith (SAIL), Sarayu Vanga (Rickards), Amelia Wass de Czege (FSUS)

Social Science Category: Ahsen Beceriklier (Godby), Jada Bedford (Lincoln), Kathleen Bennett (Chiles),
John Daugherty (SJPII Catholic), Addixian Gillespie (CCS), Zoe Rubin (FSUS), Brinkley Snow (Maclay),
Velan Thanasekar (Rickards), Gillian Tran (Leon)

Technology Category: Nevaeh Green (FAMU DRS), Kavyashree Kadhirvelu (Rickards), Anaia Larkins
(Leon), Evan Nguyen (Maclay), Mika Rauschenberg (Godby), Andrew Young (Lincoln), James Zhang

World Languages Category: Luther Auguste (Godby), Olivia Brangaccio (Lincoln), Mary Elizabeth Bussey
(Leon), Eryn Files (FSUS), Miles Gillespie (Home School), Geetika Kosuri (Rickards), Anne Mason Roberts
(Maclay), Heewon Seo (Chiles)

This year’s 8th Grade Essay Contest finalists are:

Christ Classical Academy: Elinor Douglas, Landon Huber, Evvy Wacksman
Community Christian School: Hannah Allen, Anna Cate Cole, Jayden Larson
Community Leadership Academy: Bella D’Aurio, Faith Simon, Ashlynn Yoshioka
Cornerstone Learning Community: Kalliope Flom, Kaia Holland, Kai Okui
Deerlake Middle School: Mia Hemenway, Yash Jhala, Arcadia Wang
Elizabeth Cobb Middle School: Zaryah Combs, Astrid Vandermark
Fairview Middle School: Aleena Ahmed, Adeogo Betiku, Jessica Wang
Florida State University Schools: Dublin Black, Ainsley Cate, Bryce Stewart
Fort Braden School: Addison Baxley, Addyson Rochester
Griffin Middle School: Marlon Marshall, Roana Pérez-Garcia, Danica Robinson
Holy Comforter Episcopal School: Charlie Conn, Leyton Gardner, Rebecca Gould
Leon County Home Schools: Julia Barbara Cox, Genevieve Lemmon
Maclay School: Autumn Daniels, Tucker Couch, Holt Antohi
Montford Middle School: Stokes Bryan, Katelyn Irwin, Riley Montalbano
Nims Middle School: Andrea Anaya-Rivas, Ava Burney, Kaliyah Jones
North Florida Christian School: Isaiah Bolton, Abbott Austin, Emma Scanlon
Raa Middle School: Jacob Dobbs
Renaissance Academy: Nassira Powell
Swift Creek Middle School: Sydney Roberts, Raine Toombs, Nola Wilson-Rafe
Tallahassee Classical School: Gwenyth Gray, Avalee Griffin, Jordyn White
Trinity Catholic School: Genevieve Gillespie, Ashley Lugo Purata, Maggie Smith
Woodville Middle School: Calie Hutchison, Jayden Meacham, Ryan Serran