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Benjamin Franklin High School Graduates 249 Students

NEW ORLEANS – Benjamin Franklin High School held its 2021 graduation ceremony on Monday, May 24, at UNO Lakefront Arena. There was no speaker due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the school still enjoyed celebrating its 249 graduates.

“Our graduating seniors always make us proud – but never more so than this past year,” said Head of School Dr. Patrick Widhalm. “Although they might be tired of hearing it, their resilience and determination during this challenging year have been remarkable, and we know these qualities will serve them well as they move on from our school.”

Our valedictorian is Annie Zhao, who will be studying computer engineering on a pre-med track at the University of Notre Dame next year. The daughter of Yong Yi and Dehua Zhao, Zhao is a POSSE Scholar and an Ochsner STAR Program Scholar. In addition, she served as president of Mu Alpha Theta, vice president of Baking a Difference, treasurer of Science Olympiad, and was a member of the varsity swim team. Outside of school, she was a crew member for Grow Dat Youth Farm, a volunteer at the Louisiana Children’s Museum, and a barista at Starbucks.

Our salutatorian is Paean Luby, the daughter of Christi and Bryan Luby. Paean, who will be studying computer science and psychology with a concentration in neuroscience at the University of Richmond in the fall, won a Certificate of Outstanding Achievement for Ability and Creativity in Science at the International Science & Engineering Fair in 10th grade, the National Honorable Mention of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award in 11th and 12th grade, and was a National Merit Commended Scholar. Additionally, she was awarded a full-tuition scholarship for the Tulane Summer Scholars Program in 11th grade and was the winner of the April Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Save the Earth National Competition in 11th grade. While at Franklin, she served as co-president of the Computer Science Club, did public relations for the Society of Women Engineers, and was a graphic artist for FTV. She also was the visual engagement coordinator of the American Sign Language Club and director of curriculum development at a nonprofit called Interns 4-Good.

The winner of Franklin’s Key Award, which is given to the senior who best exemplifies our values of honor, service, justice, and wisdom, was Zoe Marquis. The daughter of Colin Marquis and Amy Marquis ’90, she will attend Carleton College in the fall, where she hopes to pursue studies in science and education. In addition to being a National Merit Finalist, she won the Key Club Scholarship and the Williams Book Award and was a Carson Scholar and a Presidential Scholar candidate. While at Franklin, she participated in Ultimate Frisbee, Key Club, National Honor Society, Physics in Motion, and peer tutoring.

A full list of our graduates is below:

Summa Cum Laude graduates were Nethuli Adihetti , Adam Aldahir, Rachel Bancroft, Ian Bendana, Shanel Benjamin, Crane Benson, Devin Bilbe, Peter Bilbe, Christian Blakely, Abigail Borland, Grant Bostick, Jasmine Brown, Gabrielle Cage, Andrew Calabresi, Rachel Cannata, Kayla Carey, Nichole Cloke, John Creevy, Christine Dagoglou, Catherine Daly, Annie Dang, Erin DeJan, Richard Dong, Cameron Drouilhet, Lilly Florence, Dexter Friis- Hecht, Debi Ganguly, Tamera Gause, Naomi Gibb, Mariah Hammond, Leonardos Harikiopoulos, Layla Harmon, Katie Hoang, James Holliday, Dalisia Hughes, Kate Humphreys, Ethan Hutchinson, Allison Huynh, Trieu Huynh, Masaaba Jackson-Shipps, Angelina Jorgenson, Allyson Judge, Mariana Labat, Kimberlyn Lewis, Shelsey Lobato, Paean Luby, Sonnet Luby, Ella Madura, Audrey Mann, Lily Markus, Zoe Marquis, Ellen Marsh, Ronan McDade, Madeleine Meeker, Lauren Mobley, Skylar Monjure, Danna Moses, Julia Munger, Gianina Ndiaye, Emma Nettles, Anh Nguyen, Bao-Hung Nguyen, Emily Nguyen, Lauren Nguyen, Lieu Nguyen, Lynn Nguyen, Tiffany Nguyen, Andrea Orihuela, Lisbeth Pacheco Balbuena, Holly Pham, Amy Quave, Caroline Rareshide, Adam Raslan, Mia Fay Rouse, Rebecca Rubin, Calvin Seeg, Will Sheline, Luke Simmons-Goertz, Oscar Solorzano Camacho, Naylor Stone, Susan Tang, Jesse Thibodaux, Grace Tran, Justin Tran, Timmy Tran, Tony-Thinh Tran, Tyler Tran, Anya Trumbach, Ameli Tucker, Richard Usdin, Sofia Venezia, Benjamin Verlander, Ingalls Vincent, Larsen Vincent, Kayla Vo, George Voelker Jr., Christina Vu, Jennifer Vu, Keshyne Washington, Katherine Weaver, Margo Weese, Ava Wilkes, Derek Witzig, Zachary Zemmels, Michael Zengel, and Annie Zhao.

Magna Cum Laude graduates were Taylor Allen, Alejandro Bailey, Ronia Barnes, Jaelon Barnes-Hamilton, Malachy Bartkus, Simone Bassiouni, Janiya Bazile, Ayako Belka, Lyle Bilbe, Grace Bilbro, Stephanie Blakely, Warren Boughton, Mina Brinks, Blake Brooks, Georgia Christie, Laurette Compass, Sophia Cornibe, Anna Do, Lillian Drucker, Jaedon Duckworth, Quinn Farnet, Bankston Ferguson, Markel Fields, Sergio Garcia, Katherine Guidry, Conor Hardie, Dae’Ja Harris, Gabrielle Harris, Olivia Henderson, Michael Henry Jr., Madison Hilliard, Hannah Hoang, Rebecca Jacobs, Brooke Jeanmarie, Henry Johnson Jr., Kennedy Knockum, Claire Labbé, Benjamin Levy, Monae Lewis, Catherine Lindsey, Crystal Lockett, David Lovell, Sayra Maldonado, Je’Shayla Mathers, Zyaire McGuffey, Charleston McLean, Sophia McPhail, Camille Michel, Pierce Minor, Anisha Mohapatra, Maximillian Morrell, Nandi Muhammad, Amanda Nguyen, Andy Nguyen, Monica Nguyen, Neel Patel, Yen Phan, India Pugh, Vivienne Ragnone, Naser Raslan, Sasha Robertson, AbiGayle Russell, Emma Sampson-Green, Margaret Sampson-Green, Miya Scaggs, Desiree Sharp, Colbie Smith, Jackson Stepka, Catherine Suthon, Renee Thiebaud, Truc Tong, Khoi Tran, Corey Warren Jr., Philip Weller, Joseph White, Shania Winchester, Kate Worthy, Matthew Worthy, and Skyler Yetta.

All other graduates were Taurus Alexander Jr., Vaughn-Michael Batiste Jr., Olivia Bell, Amiyah Bernal, Jadeon Bloom, John Blouin V, Jayce Brock, Sarah Buckley, Nina Cameron, Eddie Castro, Marissa Catalanotto, Brennan Chauvin, Travionne Clark, Amy Danna, John Davillier Jr., Lukas Deffendall, Lauren Dumont, Juliet Ejiaga, William Fineran, Drew Finkelstein, Emi Fujioka, Christopher Geauthreaux, Petar Gery, Le’Jean Gillum, Zaria Goins, Ezekiel Gremillion, Milah Gresham, Joshua Gutierrez, Elle Haavie, James Hale, Ashley Harris, Nile Hedrick-Killion, Jean Hobson, Emanda Ilechukwu, Brandon Irvin Jr., Bryce Isaac, Ja’Kobe Jimerson, Sandra Le, Laila Lee, Jaylin Milanés, Austyn Millet, Aleisha Molina, Jade Morris, Maria Nguyen, Nhi Nguyen, Tam Nguyen, Jase North, Lillie Oser, Christopher Ramirez, Jade Robertson, Aubry Roque, Asia Roubion, Kristin Shales, Noah Sherwood, Aaron Shi, Jasmine Smith, Andrew Tran, Kaitlyn Washington, Christiana Williams, Eric Williams, Lily Wolfram, Owen Worthylake, Ian Yang, and Aiden Young.

For more information, please contact Eve Peyton at (504) 503-0062 or

About Benjamin Franklin High School
Benjamin Franklin High School, New Orleans’ most outstanding public charter school, has been preparing students for success through academic achievement since its founding in 1957. Consistently ranked as a “top public high school in the nation” by U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, and Business Week, Franklin has received the highest School Performance School in Louisiana, making it the No. 1 public school in the state, year after year. Ben Franklin is repeatedly named a National Blue Ribbon School, producing Presidential and National Merit Scholars each year. The exceptional students, faculty, and staff at Ben Franklin are the best and the brightest in New Orleans. For more information, please visit


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