Jayla Reese

McMain Valedictorian Jayla Reese balances athletics and academics
Posted on 05/03/2021

Eleanor McMain senior Jayla Reese was named a Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s (LHSAA) All-Star Academic athlete for having a 4.0 for six semesters. Additionally, she was recently named as Eleanor McMain's 2021 Valedictorian.

“Jayla is a perfect example of excellence, both academically and athletically,” McMain Principal John Green said. “I congratulate her on this distinct and high honor!”

The LHSAA All-Academic Award Program’s Composite Team recognizes the academic excellence of senior student-athletes who have attained a six-semester 4.0 GPA/straight A average. 

“I was surprised at first, because I was unaware of the award, but now I feel honored,” Jayla said.

Jayla’s mother, Cha-Khandra Reese, said she was excited for her daughter, saying she knew the award was “huge.”

“All of her hard work since eighth grade paid off. I am so proud of all of her successes,” Reese said. “She has always been a straight A student, and I love the way she stays focused and no matter what adversity comes her way; she doesn't give up and continues to soar. 

She’s been successfully juggling academics with athletics since the coach asked her to join the team in the eighth grade. She also participated in Youth Force NOLA, was a camp counselor, tutored other students the past two years, and volunteers with her church to help feed the homeless and clean up the community.

Jayla said her success is about balance and planning.

“I make time to make sure everything gets done. For instance, in the locker room when I have down time, I would do my homework so I would never be behind in class,” she said. “I also make sure I got enough sleep so I wouldn’t be too tired.” 

She said the two biggest keys to being a straight A student are studying and paying attention in class.

She said she also had some help from her teachers.

“Ms. Moss, my English teacher last year, is one of the favorite teachers I’ve ever had,” she said. “I like the way she teaches. She helped me improve my writing and being in her class helped me improve my English scores on the ACT.”

This fall, Jayla will be attending Xavier University, where she will be majoring in biology pre-med. Her career goal is to become a forensic pathologist.

“I took a quiz that suggested this career, so I started researching it along with others, but it was the one that interested me the most,” she said. “The forensics field is what I’m really interested in. I’ve always been interested in true crime.” 

Reese said the future is bright for her daughter.

“I look forward to seeing her excel as a forensic pathologist because I have no doubt that she will have great success,” she said. “I am just so proud of her. It warms my heart every time she receives an offer letter or scholarship for college.”

McMain’s Girls Basketball Coach Larry Williams said Jayla is a true student athlete who’s bound for success in any field.

“This humble bumblebee knows that it's not all about shooting, but a combination of team spirit, academics, and passion for the game,” he said. “Jayla empowers the people around her to do their best on court and off.”