DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - This year, the Denham Springs Masonic Lodge No. 297 started anew with a traditional award that had not been given for a few years, and three teenagers probably are still smiling after receiving the award.
On Friday, October 16, the lodge gathered at their meeting place on Benton Street in Denham Springs. The room held Masons and three students with their family and friends.
The lodge awarded an Honesty and Integrity Award, which also included an Honesty and Integrity Golden Key, a certificate and a check for $100, to three outstanding students who were chosen.
Lodge Secretary William Coon said back in the 90s, members used to interview five students from each school, but this time they did things differently.
"I said the guidance counselors, the principals and teachers know these kids better than we would in a 15 minute conversation. So we asked them to select our honorees," said Coon.
State Attorney General candidate Jeff Landry was at the ceremony. Turns out the former congressman is also a Mason out of a lodge in St. Martinville. He gave a brief speech.
Each student is outstanding for an entire school. They are all 11th graders.
Grace Marie Dugas is from Denham Springs High School. She was on the Homecoming Court. She is also a leader in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Jackets Against Destructive Decisions. Grace takes Advanced Placement courses (college-level) and is active in her church, Amite Baptist.
Victoria Claire Arbour is outstanding at Live Oak High School. Outside of school time, she teaches cheerleading at Live Oak Recreational Center, and also coaches and teaches tumbling at PARDS. She has lettered in her Sports Medicine Class. She is also a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and active at Live Oak Methodist Church.
Peyton Reid Garon is a junior at Walker High. Peyton is on the Walker power lifting team. He has attended NASA Space Camp the last five years. He's an avid hunter and fisherman, and he is also a member of First Baptist Church in Livingston.
I asked Coon how students reacted to their moment in the Masonic spotlight.
"They were thrilled. They were over the top ecstatic," said Coon. "These three kids have done a lot in school and out of school. That's remarkable because they are so busy and still managed to give back to the community outside of school."