Rod Guajardo / The Natchez Democrat — Vidalia Junior High School eighth grader Sarah Hunt stands in front of the school where a message congratulating her on being selected Concordia Parish Student of the Year is displayed. Hunt will compete for the district student of the year on Tuesday.
Rod Guajardo / The Natchez Democrat — Vidalia Junior High School eighth grader Sarah Hunt stands in front of the school where a message congratulating her on being selected Concordia Parish Student of the Year is displayed. Hunt will compete for the district student of the year on Tuesday.

Hunt shocked to be named parish student of year

Published 12:02am Wednesday, March 5, 2014

VIDALIA — Sarah Hunt didn’t have any words to describe the feeling of being the top student in Concordia Parish.

So when Vidalia Junior High School Principal Whest Shirley simultaneously told her, her mother and the entire school that Sarah had been named Concordia Parish Student of the Year, all the eighth-grade student could do was stand in shock.

“I was speechless,” Sarah said. “The only thing I could do was stand there, because I didn’t know what to say.

“It was just such an honor.”

Sarah, 13, thought the honor would go to her friend and classmate Zachary Nelson.

“He’s always the one in class getting the best scores, so I figured he was going to get it for sure,” Sarah said. “So I was a little surprised when they gave it to me.

“He wasn’t upset or anything. He just told me I better win the whole thing now.”

Sarah will now move on to compete in the district student of the year competition on Tuesday and could eventually move on to compete in the state competition.

During her interview to contend for parish student of the year, Sarah said she remained calm and comfortable while answering various questions from the interviewers, such as where she saw herself in five years and who was her biggest role model.

Sarah, who is quick to proclaim her love for animals, answered the first question with ease, saying in five years she sees herself as a student at Louisiana State University studying to be a veterinarian.

“I’ve always loved animals, and I just hate to see them suffer,” she said. “I always try to help them whenever I can.”

The answer to who her biggest role model is also came easy for Sarah, who immediately told the interviewers her mom, Leslie Hunt, was that person.

“Whenever she was in school, she always had good grades and competed in math competitions and things like that,” Sarah said. “I’ve always wanted to have good grades like her.”

Hunt said being a role model to a child like Sarah, who is extremely self-motivated, involves more encouragement than constant attention.

“She’s always pushed herself, and I’ve never had to tell her to do her homework or things like that,” Hunt said. “She requires more of herself than most people do.”

Hunt said she wasn’t too surprised to hear her daughter had been named the parish student of the year.

“I think she was more shocked than I was,” Hunt said, laughing. “She just kept telling me, ‘I don’t know what to say,’ and I told her she didn’t have to say anything, but just to enjoy the moment because she earned it.”

The Vidalia Junior High School principal said Sarah is a model student at the school and someone he knows will continue to do great things throughout her life.

“She’s just a servant and is always willing to help others,” Shirley said. “She’s an unselfish type of kid and those are the kind you want at your school.”

And even as Sarah prepares for the next step of the competition, she said the pressure won’t hit her anytime soon.

“When I went to the other interview, they told me they were very impressed because I seemed relaxed and confident,” Sarah said. “So I’m just staying laid back about the rest.”

Sarah is a member of the school’s wildlife club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and manages the softball team.

She is the daughter of Tim and Leslie Hunt.