Livingston Parish Class of 2020

The Livingston Parish Class of 2020 dealt with the Great Flood of 2016 in the first semester of its freshman year and the coronavirus in the last semester of its senior year. Pictured, top row from left, are Alyssa Crayton, of Albany High; Gannon Allison, of French Settlement High; Ella Otken, of Denham Springs High; Lane Courtney, of Holden High; and Madison Duhon, of Doyle High. Pictured, bottom row from left, are Lawrence Pierre, of Live Oak High; Bryce Felps, of Maurepas High; Mason Sibley, of Springfield High; and Shelby Dorough, of Walker High.

2020 was a year no one will soon forget, and the stories were just as memorable.

This week, The News will be releasing its “Top 10 Stories of 2020” in the news, lifestyle, and sports sections.

On Monday, we started with stories No. 9 and No. 10 from each section and will end on Friday with each section’s top two stories from the previous year.

For those wanting a hard copy, our “Top Stories” print edition will be available on newsstands on Thursday, Jan. 7.

Below is the fifth and final installment of the top stories from the lifestyle section.

No. 1

‘First the flood, now this’ | Livingston Parish Class of 2020 starts, ends high school in ‘unimaginable’ circumstances with Great Flood, coronavirus

The novel coronavirus has affected everyday life in a way that no other single issue or event has in recent memory.

Schools are closed, businesses are shutting their doors, workers are losing their jobs, hospitals are getting overwhelmed, and people are dying as the nation and the world grapples with the effects of the unknown disease.

For the Livingston Parish Class of 2020, it will be the last footnote in what has been a trying four years.

These same seniors, who may have unknowingly walked the halls of their schools for the last time, had just begun their high school journeys when the Great Flood hit Livingston Parish in August 2016.

The flood occurred in their first semester as freshmen, and the coronavirus has occurred in their last semester as seniors.

One life-altering event to start high school, another to end it.

Or as one senior called it, one “crazy coincidence.”

To read the full story, click the tab below.

No. 2

‘Do it for Remy’ | Yellow Jackets take to the field for first game since teammate’s tragic passing

DENHAM SPRINGS -- Joe Ryan looked everywhere, but he couldn’t find his powerlifter.

Remy Hidalgo, then a freshman on the Denham Springs High powerlifting team, was just a few competitors from his turn and should’ve been on the mat warming up. But at the moment, he was nowhere to be found.

Eventually, a scrambling Ryan looked to the stands, and to his astonishment, he found what he was looking for.

But he was blown away at what he saw.

To read the full story, click the tab below.

No. 3

‘A hero of the Livingston Parish community’ | Family members, friends remember Arthur Perkins after passing

DENHAM SPRINGS -- For months after the coronavirus pandemic swept the country, Arthur Perkins could be found in the same spot every Sunday — the altar.

A lifelong member of Roberts United Methodist Church, the city’s oldest church and first African American church, Perkins would arrive at the church every Sunday morning, even though in-person services had been shut down to slow the spread of the virus. After saying a prayer at the altar, he’d then set the table for any member who wanted to come pray or leave an offering.

The Sunday ritual usually lasted around two hours each week, longtime friend and colleague Fred Banks told The News.

“He would do that from 9:30 in the morning until right at 11:30 or 12,” Banks said. “He did that every Sunday since we’ve been down. He just wanted to be in church.”

Those Sunday morning prayer sessions came to an end last week, when Perkins was “called home.”

To read the full story, click the tab below.

No. 4

‘This amazing little boy’ | Six-year-old battling rare disease lives out dream, named honorary chief for a day

For a few hours, Jason Amy got to be a regular kid.

There was no discussion of Auto-Immune Encephalitis, the brain-attacking disease Jason was diagnosed with in March 2018 at 4 years old.

There was no mention of seizures, which until the last 10 weeks were a weekly occurrence for Jason, who sometimes endures as many as 20 in a single day.

There was no talk of the constant trips to the pharmacy for Jason’s daily medications; no last-minute hotel bookings for his family while he received treatment in Texas; no sudden outbursts of violence he has no control over.

Instead, Jason got to be a normal kid, not a care in the world.

To read the full story, click the tab below.

No. 5

‘One of the nicest people you’d ever meet’ | Crowds come out to pay respect to fallen Trooper George Baker

HAMMOND -- Hundreds of first responders led their fallen brother to his final resting place in a funeral procession that went through Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes on Thursday.

The procession was held in honor of George Baker, the Louisiana State Police trooper who passed away from injuries sustained in the line of duty. Baker’s body was escorted from the University Center in Hammond to Lighthouse Baptist Church in Independence.

The procession — which took a full 40 minutes to travel less than a mile down Hwy. 3234 in Hammond — drew people of all ages to pay their respects to Baker, who left behind a wife, a daughter, his parents, his sisters, and other extended family members as well as many friends and coworkers.

To read the full story, click the tab below.

No. 6

‘A die-hard Eagles fan’ | Live Oak High special needs senior realizes dream of scoring a touchdown for his favorite team

WATSON -- The most important touchdown for Live Oak last week came before the game even started, when the football team’s biggest fan got to live out his dream on the gridiron. 

Ethan Champagne, a special needs student, was given his moment to shine under the bright Friday night lights when he dressed out and scored a touchdown prior to the Eagles’ game against visiting Pineville on Friday. 

The Eagles mobbed Champagne after he crossed the goal line, and the star of the night excitedly took off his helmet and tossed it aside, throwing his arms in the air and flashing a wide smile for all to see.

To read the full story, click the tab below.

 

No. 7

Hometown hero: Learn about Miller Xavier Aydell, the Livingston Parish native who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor 79 years ago

He was ready to go home, having just completed his four years of service in the U.S. Navy.

He had already shipped off his trunk of belongings, keeping only his seabag with a change of clothes.

He had just written a letter to his cousin stationed on the mainland, and the two were supposed to meet up for a brief visit before he made the homebound journey to Louisiana.

He had his family waiting for him, and hopefully a long, happy life ahead.

But first, Petty Officer Second Class Miller Aydell and the rest aboard the USS Arizona had to go to Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, for repairs after their warship collided with another during an evening exercise.

It was supposed to be a brief stop.

Aydell never made it home, along with hundreds of others.

To read the full story, click the tab below.

 No. 8

‘They jumped into action’ | Live Oak High students save elderly woman from drowning in pond

WATSON -- Tristian Hilbun and Sadie Forbes were heading north on Highway 16 in Watson when a car in front of them made a right turn — into a pond.

As other cars passed by on this frigid night, the two teenagers immediately pulled over, called 9-1-1, jumped in the freezing pond, and eventually pulled the elderly woman out of her sinking car to safety.

Even as they shivered from head to toe, Hilbun and Forbes refused to leave right away, waiting until first responders had arrived and assured them the woman would survive.

“We just wanted to make sure she was okay,” Hilbun said.

To read the full story, click the tab below.

No. 9

‘He had an army of people praying for him’ | Relatives, friends parade in front of home of Denham Springs man who recovered from COVID-19

WATSON -- T.J. Fisher has always been the healthy one.

In fact, it’s something of a running joke in the family.

“He’s never had a stitch, a broken bone, never been to a hospital — nothing,” his brother Norwood said. “It’s kind of a running joke with us. We always joke with him about never having a medical issue, ever.

“Well, we can check that box now.”

To read the full story, click the tab below.

No. 10

‘It breaks your heart’ | Livingston Parish Sheriff deputies assist in relief effort following Hurricane Laura

OBERLIN, Louisiana -- Sgt. Frank Rizzuto had to fight back tears as he spoke.

Sitting inside one of the command rooms at the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office, located in the parish seat of Oberlin, Rizzuto knew exactly what the residents of the southwest Louisiana town were going through following the wrath of Hurricane Laura.

A New Orleans native, Rizzuto lived and worked in the Crescent City when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. He remembers the darkness that shrouded the city after the power went out. He remembers being unable to communicate with his loved ones for weeks. He remembers pulling dead bodies from the streets.

At one point, tears streamed down Rizzuto’s face as he recounted his own experiences with a natural disaster, his heart going out to those who were currently experiencing their own. Even as he spoke, Rizzuto said words could never adequately express all that goes through your mind in that moment when Mother Nature throws your entire world upside-down.

To read the full story, click the tab below.

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