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Bouquets & Brickbats 

They get what they deserve

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Rev. Fred Luter Jr.,

pastor of the popular Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, recently was elected first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention at the group's annual conference in Phoenix. Rev. Luter is the first African-American clergyman to hold a senior position in the formerly all-white Baptist group. He was the overwhelming favorite to win the position, and his election coincides with the Southern Baptists' new plan to increase diversity.

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Crucial Inc.,

a Gretna-based oil cleanup company, recently was named a finalist in the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge, a worldwide competition for oil spill cleanup ideas and designs. Crucial finished in the top 10 and now will build a functional model for the final round of competition. The company makes one of the world's highest-rated oil skimmers, which it entered in the Schmidt competition and soon will deploy in Prince William Sound in Alaska, site of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

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Carlos Ayala,

who graduated from Loyola University in 1957 with a degree in business, bequeathed $1.5 million to Loyola's College of Business. Ayala, who had invested in the stock market and parlayed a $30,000 stake into millions, died earlier this year, but his gift will add $900,000 to Loyola's student-managed investment fund, increasing its value tenfold. Profits from the fund go to scholarships for future business students.

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Benjamin Franklin High School,

located on the UNO campus, was the top-ranking high school in the state of Louisiana in Newsweek's annual tally of 500 of "America's Best High Schools." Ben Franklin, which came in at No. 27 nationwide, was cited for its 100 percent graduation and college-bound rates, as well as its average SAT score (1,883). Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report named Ben Franklin the 27th best magnet school in the nation.

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