Natasha Cox,

a student at Belle Chasse High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, has been given a Silver Award by YoungArts, the core program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. Cox, who participates in NOCCA's creative writing program, also has been nominated as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students. The award includes $5,000 and a trip to New York City for an artistic residency.

Maris Jones,

a 17-year-old New Orleans Girl Scout, has been selected by the organization as a 2009 National Young Woman of Distinction. Jones was chosen for her efforts to replant trees in her eastern New Orleans neighborhood after Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures. "This is the first time a Girl Scout from Louisiana has ever received this national distinction," says Jackie Alexander, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts Louisiana East.

Jonathan Lynch,

a student in the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University, beat out seven other contestants to win the South Central Regional section of the Almost Famous Chef competition, sponsored by S. Pellegrino, the sparkling mineral water company. Lynch's winning dish was pan-bronzed Supreme of Chicken. Lynch will now move on to the national finals at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, Calif.

Mose Jefferson,

political operative and brother of former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for bribing former New Orleans Parish School Board president Ellenese Brooks-Simms. Jefferson paid Brooks-Simms $100,000 for her role in supporting and then approving OPSB contracts for educational computer software. The company, "I Can Learn," gave Jefferson a $913,000 commission for the sales, but as part of his sentence, he will pay that money back — along with a $175,000 fine.