A student from Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans has been named the Louisiana 12th grade student of the year.

Senior Keyana Zahiri is part of Advocates for Academic Excellence in Education Inc. in Orleans Parish. At school, Keyana participates in the academically gifted program, maintains a 4.0 GPA and scored a 35 on her ACT. She is a National Merit semifinalist and an Advanced Placement scholar with distinction.

She is the president of Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, president of Key Club, vice president of National Honor Society, president and coach of Academic Games, and captain of the swim team, and has served in leadership roles in various other organizations.

Outside of school, Keyana plays classical piano, practices Japanese Shotokan karate, and participates in community service activities like Youth Rebuilding New Orleans and the local Special Olympics.

She recently organized a New Orleans STEM Day for 50 middle school students, and she has served as a research intern at the Louisiana Cancer Research Center.

She hopes to one day become a cardiothoracic surgeon and participate in Doctors Without Borders.

The Louisiana Department of Education on April 10 named the 2019 Students of the Year and honored all 21 regional finalists for the prestigious award during a ceremony at the Louisiana State Museum.

The overall winners, one student from the elementary, middle and high school grades, were selected based on criteria that measure academic achievement, leadership skills, character, and service to their schools and community.

"These students are among the best and brightest in Louisiana," said State Superintendent John White. "We applaud their many accomplishments, both inside and outside of the classroom, and we are pleased to celebrate each of them, along with their proud families, teachers, principals and districts."

The other 2019 Students of the Year are Mallory Byrd, of Hayden R. Lawrence Upper Elementary School in Rapides Parish and Ashley Green, of Houma Christian School.