SCHOOL BOARD APPOINTS NEW MEMBER
The Livingston Parish School Board appointed David “Bo” Graham to serve as the interim representative for District 7, filling the vacancy created by former board member Jimmy Watson’s election as Walker mayor.
Graham received the board’s unanimous approval as Watson’s appointed replacement and was sworn in during a recess at the board’s Jan. 5 meeting. An election will be held Oct. 14 to fill Watson’s unexpired term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2018.
Graham is a retiree from the United States Postal Service. He is a life-long resident of Walker, and a graduate of Walker High School.
MAUREPAS HONORS BASEBALL STANDOUT KADE SCIVICQUE
Maurepas High School honored local baseball standout and former LSU Tiger Kade Scivicque by retiring his jersey number, #20, during a doubleheader basketball contest on Jan. 5.
Scivicque earned All-American and All-SEC honors at LSU, and in his senior year, was one of three finalists for the prestigious Johnny Bench Award, which identifies the top college catchers. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft by Detroit, who traded Scivique to the Atlanta Braves’ organization for the 2016 season.
CHURCH CONSIDERS DONATION AN OPPORTUNITY TO REPAY KINDNESS TO DENHAM SPRINGS ELEMENTARY
The new temporary campus for Denham Springs Elementary will soon open on property on Hatchell Lane thanks to help from the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. The church has donated the use of approximately four acres of its property at no cost to the school system, as a “privilege to return the favor,” according to Father Frank Uter.
He noted that prior to 1964, when the local Catholic Church was a one-room building located on Range Avenue, its young parishioners attended religion classes on the Denham Springs Elementary campus because of a lack of space on church property.
“The school board graciously made their facilities available to our young parishioners and their families. We now have the opportunity and privilege to return the favor and make some of our campus available to them,” he recently wrote in a church bulletin.
Father Uter noted that the presence of the temporary campus has been designed to not intrude upon the church’s Fall Festival grounds more than necessary. In fact, the church’s annual carnival is slated for Oct. 27-29, 2017. He said the agreement with the school system has the unanimous support of the Parish Finance Council and the Diocese. The temporary campus for Denham Springs Elementary is expected to open in early February.
A MOMENT IN HISTORY
WASTE MANAGEMENT GIFTS $200,000 TO FLOOD VICTIMS
Waste Management has donated $200,000 to Livingston Parish to aid flood victims in their recovery efforts. Residents who were heavily impacted by the flood are asked to fill out an application to be eligible for a cash grant valued up to $2,000 per applicant. Decisions will be based on specific needs laid out in the application which is available online at www.lpsb.org, or at www.livingstonparishla.gov. For more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIMELINE ANNOUNCED FOR RESTORED CAMPUSES, CONSTRUCTION OF TEMPORARY CAMPUSES
Superintendent Rick Wentzel announced that all students displaced from their home schools because of flood damage will be back on their original campuses or in new temporary campuses by the end of January 2017.
Students at Denham Springs High School and Denham Springs Freshman High will be back on their original campuses on Jan. 5 – the first day of the school year’s second semester. Students at Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High will also transfer to their new temporary campuses on Jan. 5. Those temporary campus are located on property behind Juban Parc Elementary and Juban Parc Junior High, respectively.
Students at Denham Springs Elementary will be relocated to a temporary campus adjacent to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Hatchell Lane in Denham Springs. That campus is expected to be ready to welcome students by Jan. 30. Its delayed opening has been caused by FEMA code issues and a mandated review of the site by FEMA’s Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation program, which determines if undeveloped property contains significant evidence of historic Native American activity.
“We finally have clearance to move forward on establishing the temporary campus for Denham Springs Elementary, but unfortunately, red tape has delayed our efforts by nearly three to four weeks,” Wentzel said. “Assuming that weather does not further hamper our progress, we feel certain we can have the students, teachers and staff of Denham Springs Elementary relocated by the end of January.”
Wentzel noted that students and employees for Denham Springs Elementary will resume their present configurations at Eastside Elementary, Northside Elementary and Freshwater Elementary on Jan. 5 and remain on those campuses until the new temporary campus is completed by end of the month.
DISPLACED STUDENTS TO BE WELCOMED WITH CLEAN, FURNISHED CAMPUSES
Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy said the temporary campuses for Denham Springs Elementary, Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High will each consist of 40 classrooms, a library, cafeteria, administrative building, special education building and multi-purpose building.
“There are 68 sections that occupy nine buildings, and all of those buildings are connected by a series of covered decks. All three campuses are designed for a capacity of 500 students,” Murphy said, noting that the cost of establishing the three temporary campuses is more than $11 million.
He said another $5 million to $6 million is being spent to restore the Denham Springs High School and Denham Springs Freshman High campuses. Those campuses will receive a final cleaning in the coming weeks, and furniture and technology systems will be delivered and installed. However, because of time constraints, the painting of the classrooms will not be completed before the students return.
“Our students will return to clean classrooms and facilities, but many of the walls and structures at the high school and freshman high will have the visible signs of new construction and repairs, since we will not be able to repaint before they move back in,” Murphy said. “Our principals will work with the contractors to find appropriate times to get painters into the school without disturbing class instruction, but that’s likely to take some time.”
LIFE SKILLS APARTMENT OPENS ON SPRINGFIELD MIDDLE CAMPUS
Livingston Parish Public Schools recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Life Skills Apartment-East, located on the campus of Springfield Middle School, which will allow the district to double its capacity to serve students with significant disabilities in the parish.
The new facility, which is a simulated home environment equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, den and pull-down bed, better enables instructors to teach students how to perform daily activities in hopes of enabling them to live a safer, more independent lifestyle in their own homes or in a group home setting.
This is the district’s second Life Skills Apartment. The other facility is located on the campus of Denham Springs High School. It serviced all the parish’s high-school aged students with significant disabilities prior to the campus being closed due to flood damage. When both facilities are open on Jan. 5, the parish’s two facilities will serve approximately 130 students in grades 6-12.
“With the addition of the Life Skills Apartment-East, we can offer better service to our east-side students, and we can double our capacity parishwide,” said Eric Penalber, director of the Special Education Department. “Before now, we could only serve our high-schoolers, but now with this new facility, we can extend this training to our middle school students.”
EXXONMOBIL GIVES DONATION TO SOUTHSIDE JUNIOR HIGH
LIVINGSTON PARISH 4-H STUDENTS TRAVEL TO WISCONSIN TO ATTEND THE NATIONAL 4-H DAIRY CONFERENCE.
LIVINGSTON PARISH INCREASES NUMBER OF “A” SCHOOLS TO 28,
IMPROVES TO NO. 3 IN THE STATE
The number of “A” schools in Livingston Parish increased to 28 in 2016 – up from 16 the year before – and the district improved its ranking to No. 3 in the state; a direct reflection of the district’s overall academic excellence and growth in every measurable category that is tracked by the Louisiana Department of Education.
The state department’s latest report shows Livingston Parish Schools received a 2016 District Performance Score of 109.5 to once again earn an overall “A” rating and earn the No. 3 ranking in the state. Livingston Parish is the largest district in the state’s top-performing districts with an enrollment of nearly 26,000. Overall, the state report showed the district improved 7 points from 102.5 points to 109.5 points to maintain and strengthen its “A” rating. Sixteen districts in the state earned “A” ratings for receiving District Performance Scores above 100 points.
At the same time, the report showed that 28 parish schools in Livingston Parish received an “A” – more than two-thirds of the schools in the district – while 13 earned a “B”. The average growth for all schools in Livingston Parish is 5.9 points, or as much as 6.32 points if progress points are factored in the equation. Visit louisianabelieves.com to see the complete ranking of school districts across the state and the school performance scores for all Livingston Parish schools.
GROWTH INDICATORS SHOW LIVINGSTON PARISH GAINED IN EVERY AREA OF ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
The state department’s latest report shows Livingston Parish Schools received a 2016 District Performance Score of 109.5 to once again earn an overall “A” rating and be counted among the state’s top performing public school districts. The report also showed that Livingston Parish Schools showed significant growth in K-8 assessments, as well as End of Course exams, ACT scores, and graduation rates for high schoolers.
The district’s highest gains in a performance indicator came in ACT scores – a 21 percent improvement in 2016 scores as compared to 2015. The district’s score for success on the ACT, a college preparatory exam, and the ACT Workkeys, a job skills assessment, jumped from 83.5 point to 101.3 points, for a 21 percent gain.
At the same time, the district grew its graduation rate from 79.6 percent to 84 percent, and improved it access to college and career performance indicator by 7 percent. The district also showed an overall 6 percent increase in both its K-8 Assessment index and End of Course exams.
“We are excited about these scores because they show our students improving in every category and at every level, from K to 12. Some of our schools showed double-digit gains,” Supervisor of Instruction Tracy McRae said. Those schools that grew by double digits include Albany High School, up 14.9 points; Frost School, up 14.1 points; Springfield High School, up 13.2 points; Springfield Elementary School, up 10.8 points; Juban Parc Elementary, up 10.7 points; Denham Springs High School, up 10.4 points; and Denham Springs Junior High, up 10 points.
SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES CHANGES TO SPRING 2017 ACADEMIC SCHEDULE
The Livingston Parish School Board approved recommended changes to the Spring 2017 school calendar that include replacement time for the district’s academic schedule. The new calendar now requires students to attend a full day of class instruction on the following days that were previously scheduled as half-days for students or as planning/work days for only teachers and principals:
- Jan. 5 (previously a work day for only teachers and principals)
- Feb. 16 (previously a half day for students)
- March 16 (previously a half day for students)
- May 24 (previously a work day for only teachers and principals)
This new schedule results in students returning to class in the New Year one day early and extending class by one day at the end of the school year.
At the same time, the school system will add 21 minutes of instructional time to its master schedules. This time will be added 10 minutes in the morning and 11 minutes in the afternoon and will begin on Jan. 5 and continue through May 24.
WALKER HIGH SCHOOL CADETS VOLUNTEER TO CLEAN FIGHTER JET AT I-12 SATSUMA EXIT
Walker High School’s Marine Corps JROTC cadets have volunteered to clean and maintain the appearance of the F-4 Phantom fighter jet that is on display at the I-12 Satsuma exit. The large McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is on loan from the U.S. Department of Defense to the Town of Livingston for public display on property donated by local developer, businessman and retired Naval Captain Garry Lewis. Lewis flew the Phantom jet during his 26 years in the military.
Walker High’s Senior Marine Instructor Maj. Alan LeCompte said the cadets will clean the jet approximately once a month during after-school hours.
LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS CONTINUE TO RECEIVE FLOOD-RELIEF DONATIONS
Various charitable organizations, businesses and individuals continue to respond the parish’s need in the aftermath of the devastating floods that damaged thousands of homes, businesses and lives in August. The school system suffered millions of dollars in damage, as well, and several schools are still closed and under repair. Anyone wishing to make a donation to Livingston Parish Schools can contact Mr. John Foster at 225-400-7566 or donate online at email@example.com. Numerous donations have been received, and not all can be publicly acknowledged; however, the following is a list of organizations and people whose generosity is greatly appreciated and deserves our humble thanks and gratitude:
- $80,000 from St. Tammany Parish Schools, including $30,000 in supplies, $42,000 in cash donations and $8,500 in gift cards
- $65,000 worth of sportswear and jackets from Trinity Promotions
- $50,000 cash donation from Taylor Swift Foundation
- $35,000 in athletic gear from Schutt Sports
- $25,000 from Rotary International
- $25,000 worth of mattresses from Baton Rouge Mattress
- $15,000 cash donation from Assess the Need, plus thousands of dollars in supplies
- $15,000 cash donation from Tito Vodka
- $10,000 supply credit from School Specialty,with special thanks to Account Manager Gina Guarino
- $10,000 worth of supplies from the community of St. Louis, Mo., and the cast and crew of “Thread Up” for publicizing our local need
- $10,000 worth of uniforms from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation
- $10,000 worth or art supplies from Baton Rouge resident and professional art director Cullen Boudreaux
- $3,000 supply of shoes from Heart and Soul
TWO FLOODED SCHOOLS TO REOPEN JAN. 6, THREE TO RELOCATE
Students from Denham Springs High School and Denham Springs Freshman High will return to their home campuses for the start of the second semester, on Jan. 6, 2017, while students from three other schools will relocate to temporary campuses at that time.
The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church will make available nearly four acres of its property on Hatchell Lane to house the temporary campus for Denham Springs Elementary. The church has agreed to enter into a zero-dollar lease with the school system for use of the land.
At the same time, a temporary campus for Southside Elementary will be constructed on school property next to Juban Parc Elementary, and a temporary campus for Southside Junior High will be located on school property next to Juban Parc Junior High.
School officials continue to work with FEMA to determine what action can be taken with the three campuses that remain damaged; however, that determination may not be made for another six to nine months, according to Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy.
HOLDEN GYM NAMED IN HONOR OF ALTON LEGGETTE
The Livingston Parish School Board unanimously voted to name the old Holden school gym the Alton Leggette Memorial Junior High Gym.
Leggette was a former school board member and hall of fame boys’ basketball coach, best known for coaching the 1963 Holden team that won the Class C state title. He started his career as the girls’ coach at Maurepas, but went on to become the boys’ coach in Holden and finished his career as head coach at Denham Springs in the mid-1970s with a career record of 498-155. In 1990, he was selected as Louisiana’s Mr. Basketball by the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches.
WALKER PARTNERS WITH NORTH OAKS FOR SPORTS MEDICINE FACILITY
Walker High School recently opened a new sports medicine facility in partnership with North Oaks Sports Medicine. The new facility is located in Walker High School’s newly constructed athletic field house and weight room facility, and it serves as a classroom laboratory and treatment center for the school’s athletic programs.
“We are proud to partner with North Oaks to keep our student-athletes healthy and to train our students in the exciting and growing field of sports medicine,” Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre said. He noted that the partnership gives students hands-on training opportunities, including access to visit and conduct clinical training at the North Oaks facilities in Satsuma and Hammond. He also said the program will benefit the school’s Certified Nursing Assistant curriculum.
EMERIL LAGASSE FOUNDATION DONATES NEW UNIFORMS TO STUDENTS
The Emeril Lagasse Foundation recently donated new school uniforms to nearly 350 students at Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High in Denham Springs who were severely impacted by the flooding.
Brian Kish, president of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation said his organization donated $10,000 to Kids in Need During Disasters (KINDD), a fund that supports children affected by natural, manmade and environmental disasters, in order to purchase two uniforms for each of the 350 students identified as affected by the flood. Each student received two pairs of short, two shirts and a sweatshirt in his or her correct size.
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS HONORED FOR ROLE IN SUCCESSFUL DROPOUT PREVENTION PROGRAM
Supervisor of Child Welfare and Attendance Edward Foster and Principal of Pine Ridge Alternative School Tony Terry were recently honored at the International Association for Truancy and Dropout Prevention (IATDP) Conference for their participation in a cooperative dropout prevention program that has significantly increased the graduation rate in Livingston Parish.
The 21st Judicial District Court’s Juvenile Drug Court and Dropout Prevention Program received the IATDP’s “Program of the Year” award. The program operates under the judicial supervision of Judge Blair Edwards of the 21st JDC and includes members of Livingston Parish Public Schools, the District Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Public Defender, TASC/FINS and Juvenile Drug Court, the Office of Juvenile Justice and the local office of the Department of Children and Family Services.
CLASS TIME ADDED TO 2016 ACADEMIC CALENDAR
The Livingston Parish School Board recently approved a revised academic calendar to add class time to the 2016 Fall calendar in the aftermath of historic flooding throughout the parish. Along with the regularly scheduled classes that resumed on Sept. 12, instruction time was added by changing the following days into full class days:
- Thursday, Sept. 15 (originally a ½ day for teacher professional development)
- Friday, Oct. 7 (originally a Fair Day holiday; the Livingston Parish Fair has been cancelled)
- Thursday, Oct. 20 (originally a Teacher/Parent Conference Day)
- Wednesday, Nov. 16 (originally a ½ day for teacher professional development)
NEARLY ALL STUDENTS RETURN TO DISTRICT POST-FLOOD
More than 95 percent of all students enrolled in Livingston Parish schools for the 2016-2017 school year have returned to school since classes restarted after the flood. “We have been working very hard to have all our students accounted for and back in a classroom,” Superintendent Rick Wentzel said. He noted that most students are back with their original schools. Also, Wentzel said some of the students who have not returned to class in the parish have contacted the school system and expressed an intention to return once they are able to return to their homes. “We are pleased with the numbers and we will continue to work with our displaced families to get every student back before the end of the year,” he said.
SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL SET TO OPEN BY OCTOBER 3
Superintendent Rick Wentzel has announced that teachers, staff and students of Springfield High School will be able to return to the campus on Oct. 3. All the school buildings have been cleaned and restored to working order, he said. “We are very appreciative of the patience and cooperation displayed by everyone in the Springfield community, and we share in their excitement to see the campus reopen,” Wentzel said. He especially thanked the community of Springfield Middle School for platooning with the high school. Wentzel noted that the transportation and class schedules for both Springfield High School and Springfield Middle School will resume their normal times as before the flooding.
SCHOOL OFFICIALS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS TEAM UP TO COLLECT DONATIONS FOR STUDENTS
With thousands of homes flooded and families displaced, some of the greatest needs throughout the parish have been restoring school supplies, uniforms and shoes to students so they can return to the classroom equipped and ready to resume learning. School leaders quickly established a means to request and receive donations so supplies and clothing could be dispersed to students as soon as possible. Juban Parc Junior High Principal Jeff Frizell, Literacy & Technology Center Director Kim Albin and Supervisor Ed Foster teamed up to collect, sort and distribute school supplies that were donated. Curriculum Director Deborah Kropog managed a team of volunteers who collected and correctly sized uniforms and shoes. They anticipate collecting and distributing nearly 10,000 uniforms by the end of the month. Albany Middle School Teacher Joni Smith also used her position as the newly named Louisiana Teacher of the Year to reach out to organizations across the state and nationwide to give a variety donations.
At the same time, Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor quickly responded to the school system’s call for help by reactivating the Assess the Need campaign. Local radio, television and news organizations ran ads asking for assistance for Livingston Parish students. One reply to that call for help came from three former LSU golfers who are on the PGA tour – David Toms, Andrew Loupe and Smylie Kaufman. They recently presented Taylor with a $50,000 check to Assess the Need to help with flood relief for local students.
Some other notable donations include:
- a $50,000 donation to the school system from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation;
- an in-kind donation of football equipment, helmets and shoes for the Denham Springs High School football team from the NFL and New Orleans Saints;
- an in-kind donation of football equipment, helmets and shoes for the Southside Junior High School team from various parents and contributors, most notably Benjamin Watson, Charles Tillman, Dave Roberts and Schutt and Greg Barnett;
- a $5,000 in-kind donation of instruments and an electric public address system for the Denham Springs Junior High Band from the Baton Rouge Guitar Center;
- an in-kind donation of 600 pairs of shoes for faculty and students of Live Oak High School and Denham Springs High School from Varsity Sports;
- an in-kind donation of shoes from Fleet Feet and the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class.
MINI-PARADE BRIGHTENS SPIRITS
The staff and faculty of Gray’s Creek Elementary School took their message of hope and welcome for their students to the street – literally! Led by Marshal Jerry Denton, Principal Melissa Dougherty and her team traveled throughout flood-stricken neighborhoods the week prior to restarting school, tossing out toys, candy and other goodies to their students. They dubbed the mini-parade their “Swamp Tour” in honor of the school’s gator mascot.
TEACHERS DISPLAY COLORS OF UNITY
To help welcome the teachers, staff and students of Denham Springs Elementary to their temporary home at Eastside Elementary, the teachers wore purple and gold – Denham Springs Elementary’s school colors – as a sign of support and unity. The Denham Springs Elementary campus is still closed due to flood damage, so students from grades Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd are attending class at Eastside Elementary.
ALBANY TEACHER NAMED LOUISIANA’S TEACHER OF THE YEAR
The Louisiana Department of Education recently announced that Livingston Parish teacher Joni Smith is the overall 2017 Teacher of the Year. Smith, who is a 7th- grade science teacher at Albany Middle School, was selected as the state’s top teacher from among 24 elementary, middle and high school teachers from across the state who advanced to the state department’s final-round of competition for the award. The announcement was made at the 10th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium, which was presented by Dream Teachers, on July 15 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge. The state department noted that Smith’s students rank first in Livingston Parish and fourth in the state for test scores in life sciences. As part of Smith’s award, she was presented with a one-year lease on a new Mercedes, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz of Baton Rouge.
“We are overjoyed with Ms. Smith’s selection as the top overall teacher in Louisiana. She is a dedicated educator who not only works hard to ensure all her students learn and understand the material taught in her class, but she also encourages her students to become community leaders and to actively engage in serving those in need,” Superintendent Rick Wentzel said. “Ms. Smith is most deserving of this recognition, and she is a prime example of why Livingston Parish Public Schools continues to provide its students with a quality education.”
DISTRICT OPENS SUMA PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CENTER
Livingston Parish school officials and community leaders officially opened its new Suma Professional Development Center July 19 with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The new center is located at Suma Lakes, near the I-12/Satsuma exit, providing the district with centralized meeting space for large groups. The 4,000-square-foot space is equipped with presentation technology and wireless connectivity, and it allows approximately 150 people to meet around tables for discussion.
“Before accessing this center, our district lacked a space large enough to house large groups, causing us to lease multiple off-site spaces for many of our professional development sessions. Now, we can host our sessions in our own facility,” Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy said. He praised central office staff member Tammy Kuhn for taking the initiative to locate the facility, and he thanked Jason LaBorde and his print shop employees and Robert Logan and the IT staff for their efforts to make the professional development center ready for occupation.
PARRILL NAMED ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT
Stephen Parrill, a supervisor of instruction with the Livingston Parish public school system, will serve as the district’s newest assistant superintendent. He fills the vacancy created by Rick Wentzel’s move to superintendent.
Parrill brings to the job more than 24 years of experience in education, the majority of which have been in Livingston Parish. He has served as a supervisor of instruction in the district since October 2007, after serving three months as a substitute in that position. Before moving to the central office, Parrill served as principal from 2001-2007 of Springfield Middle School, where he first served as a teacher, beginning in 1995, then served as assistant principal from 1999-2001.
SADD CAMPERS LEARN ABOUT SAFETY
ASSESS THE NEED CAMPAIGN UNDERWAY
Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor and a team of volunteers are making plans to provide school supplies for nearly 3,000 needy children in Livingston Parish Public Schools for the start of the new school year. Taylor is the sponsor of ASSESS the NEED, a parish-wide school supply drive that collects donations for school supplies each year to give students the tools they need to be successful in the classroom. This year will be the 16th year that Taylor has sponsored the program. To date, the program has collected upwards of $600,000 to $700,000 in donations. Taylor projects this year’s campaign will need to raise $50,000 to meet the anticipated need in all schools across the parish.
Taylor said volunteers will take donations for this year’s drive from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on July 30-31 at the three Wal-Mart stores in Livingston Parish – located in Denham Springs, Walker and Watson. He said volunteers will accept monetary and in-kind donations. Donations also can also be mailed to P. O. Box 1802, Denham Springs, Louisiana, 70727, given on-line at www.AssesstheNeed.com, or dropped off at the Livingston Parish Assessor’s office during regular work hours, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Supplies will be collected, organized and distributed to each school in the parish before the start of classes on August 4, allowing teachers and counselors at each campus to distribute the supplies on the first day.
LONG-TIME PARISH EDUCATOR RICK WENTZEL NAMED SUPERINTENDENT Rick Wentzel, assistant superintendent of school operations, will take over the district’s top position on July 1, replacing current Superintendent John Watson. The Livingston Parish School Board unanimously approved the search committee’s recommendation at its June 16 meeting. Watson announced his retirement earlier this year, saying he wanted to allow the board the option to select his replacement before the start of the new school year. Wentzel has spent 22 of his 30 years in education with the Livingston Parish Public School System. Prior to serving as assistant superintendent, he worked as the human resources supervisor and principal at Springfield High, North Corbin Junior High and Walker Junior High. He also has experience as an assistant principal at Southside Junior High, and as a teacher and coach at Live Oak and Denham Springs high schools.
ALBANY MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER NAMED STATE FINALIST
Joni Smith’s passion for her students at Albany Middle School and her keen ability to connect what is taught in the classroom with everyday life experiences has made her one of the state’s top candidates for Louisiana’s Middle School Teacher of the Year. Smith is one only eight middle school teachers in the state who are in the finals of the annual state competition to be recognized on July 15. Smith is a local prodigy who graduated from Live Oak High School and received her certification and bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2007. She taught science at Westside Junior High in Walker for nearly seven years before moving to Albany Middle School in 2014.
TEACHERS PARTICIPATE IN MATH WORKSHOPS
More than 80 elementary teachers and 30 middle school teachers from Livingston Parish Public Schools participated in math methods workshops earlier this month. Southeastern Louisiana University instructors Stacy Jemison and Dr. Daniel Acosta, Ph.D., led the seminars, which focused on conceptual teaching, instruction and assessment methods and techniques for math curricula. The seminars were filled to capacity with more than 20 teachers on a waiting list to get in! The elementary workshop covered four days, while the middle school workshop went for six days.
WALKER HIGH SCHOOL BREAKS GROUND ON NEW FACILITIES
Livingston Parish school officials and community leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony on June 27 at Walker High School to launch the construction of the largest components of a $25 million capital improvement plan approved by voters in the Walker School District in 2014. The new construction projects include a main, two-story building with 32 classrooms, a spacious library, teacher work room and administrative offices that will face Florida Boulevard, creating a new front entrance to the high school campus. Also included are a new cafeteria with indoor and outdoor seating for 600-800 students; a new band room for 200 students, with practice and rehearsal rooms and storage for instruments; a new vocational-technical education building for agriculture, carpentry and welding classes; and a new air-conditioned gymnasium that seats 2,000 people. The projects are expected to be completed around the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
DENHAM SPRINGS GRAD RECEIVES $500 SCHOLARSHIP
SUPERINTENDENT JOHN WATSON ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
Livingston Parish School Superintendent John Watson recently announced he will retire at the end of June, bringing an end to more than 33 years of working in the district. Watson said he will retire six months before his contract’s end to allow the school board an opportunity to find his replacement before the 2016-17 school year begins. Watson has served as superintendent of the Livingston Parish Public School district since 2012. Prior to that time, he worked as an assistant superintendent, administrator, principal, teacher and coach.
LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS HONOR YEAR’S TOP PRINCIPALS
LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS HONOR YEAR’S TOP TEACHERS
Those Livingston Parish teachers who were given the Teacher of the Year award at their respective schools are as follows:
STUDENTS PERFORM “TOP 40” MUSICAL
JUBAN PARC JUNIOR HIGH BAND EARNS AWARD
The Juban Parc Junior High School 8th Grade Band earned a sweepstakes award at both the District and State Music Performance Assessment Festivals this spring. The award is the highest honor offered at these festivals. This is the first year the band participated at the state-level competition. Band Director Abby South said she plans to have next year’s group compete at both festivals as well. She said they will have an opportunity to get a “jump start” on sharpening their skills this summer during a music camp at the school.
LIVINGSTON PARISH NEWS PUBLISHER DONATES ITEMS
School leaders recently extended their sincere appreciation to Livingston Parish News Publisher Nancy David for donating several items to area schools in memory of her husband, Jeff David. The donated items included an upright Kimball piano and weight equipment, which were given to Juban Parc Junior High, and a running treadmill and lat pull machine, given to Denham Springs Freshman High School. All the equipment has been delivered and installed on the campuses.
LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS RECOGNIZE TOP STUDENT OF THE YEAR WINNERS
The Livingston Parish School Board and Superintendent John Watson on April 21 recognized parish students in grades 5, 8 and 12, who were awarded Student of the Year honors at their respective schools, including the top three 2016 Student of the Year winners who represented the parish in the three grade categories in regional and state competitions. The top three winners include Keagan Rabalais, a 5th grader at South Live Oak Elementary; Ella Otken, an 8th grader at Denham Springs Junior High; and Taylor Prudhomme, a senior at Springfield High School. Rabalais advanced to the state finals in this year’s competition, being named the region’s top student in the 5th grade category.
All the Livingston Parish students who were awarded Student of the Year honors for their respective schools include:
TEACHERS HONORED AS 4-H LEADERS
FOUR PARISH TEAMS ADVANCE TO STATE SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT
Livingston Parish is making its presence known in Sulphur during the final weekend of April, as four of the parish’s high school girls’ softball teams will compete in the 2016 LHSAA State Softball Tournament.
Holden and Maurepas earned the No. 2 seeds in their divisions, Class B and Class C, respectively. Holden entered the tournament with a 29-3 record, while Maurepas compiled a season-long record of 22-5. Both schools have state runner-up finishes in the past decade – Holden in 2011 and Maurepas in 2012.
Live Oak captured a share of its fifth consecutive District 4-5A championship this season on its ways to a 21-4 record a repeat state tournament appearance. The Eagles enter the tournament as the No. 5 seed.
Doyle is the parish’s “Cinderella” team in the playoffs. Ranked No. 12, the team upset a perennial powerhouse to earn one of the eight spots in the Class 2A championship tournament.