January 2022

STUDENTS AND STAFF OCCUPY NEW DENHAM SPRINGS ELEMENTARY CAMPUS

Third grader Cohen St. Amant, 9, jumps out of the car high-fiving Butch the Yellow Jacket mascot played by Sarah Lambert during the first day back to school for Denham Springs Elementary students in their newly constructed building. Photo provided by The Advocate Photographer Bill Feig.

Students and staff at Denham Springs Elementary returned to school for the second semester in their newly constructed, two-story building after having to work at one of the temporary campuses that was built following the 2016 flood.

“We are excited that this day is finally becoming a reality,” Denham Springs Elementary Principal Gail DeLee said.

The new 80,000-square-foot, two-story campus was constructed at the school’s original site of 306 N. Range Avenue, near the intersection of Centerville Street in Denham Springs. The new school’s historic-looking brick façade is complemented by modern additions, such as classrooms with dry erase walls, modular seating, natural light, a large cafeteria, a dedicated pre-kindergarten area, and a dedicated STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) lab.

The building also includes personal touches, such as honeycomb shaped lighting fixtures, purple and gold design throughout the building, and a large yellowjacket mascot on the wall behind the tiered area that is located near the school’s main entrance. The school’s students provided motivational words to cover walls.

“You know, you think you can get over the emotional end of this after five years, but you just don’t,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said. “I was the first one on this campus after it flooded. I saw what was here, and then I see what’s here today. I’m thankful for all those that made that work.”

 

 “LATE ARRIVAL” PLAN TO BE INSTITUTED ON WINTER WEATHER DAYS

To avoid losing instructional days when winter weather conditions make travel unsafe early in the morning, the Livingston Parish school system will enact a “late arrival” schedule as necessary during the upcoming months.

Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill said the plan on those days may be to delay the start of school by two or three hours – meaning, if a school’s start time is regularly 7 a.m., then it would move to 9 a.m. on a two-hour delay, or to 10 a.m. on a three-hour delay.  The same scenario will be used for bus pick-up times.  The same scenario will be used for bus pick-up times.

Breakfast would not be served on those days, but the schedules for lunch and dismissal would remain the same.

In past years, the district has had to cancel school days due to icy weather conditions, as driving during early mornings on such days can present a safety hazard.

“It is our hope that this plan will allow our students to receive each day of learning they deserve and to do it in a way that creates the least disruption for everyone,” Parrill said.

 

LOCAL LEGISLATOR HOSTS TOURS OF CAREER PATHWAY PROGRAMS

Career and Technical Education Coordinator Staci Polozola, left, speaks to a classroom full of healthcare professionals, school and university officialss and business leaders who recently toured the healthcare industry programs at Denham Springs High School. The tour was coordinated with State Rep. Buddy Mincey, Jr., seated in the center of the room. Polozola explained how the programs are available at all the district’s high schools, making Livingston Parish the state’s leader in the numbers of students enrolled in healthcare industry certification programs.

State Rep. Buddy Mincey, Jr., is wanting business professionals to know more about the career pathway programs currently available to students in Livingston Parish Public Schools.

That’s why he invited a long list of business professionals, community leaders, university and technical college officials and elected leaders this month to tour various school facilities, hear first-hand from students about their learning experiences and explore ways to grow and expand existing programs.

Mincey hosted a tour of the district’s health care industry programs on Jan. 18, and he will facilitate a second tour focused on film industry programs on Jan. 27.

“Our school system is offering our students greater opportunities and greater access to good, high-paying jobs after graduation.  The more we can engage our industry stakeholders in these efforts, the stronger these programs become and the more opportunities we can offer our students to be better positioned in the workforce,” Mincey said.

 

SCHOOL BOARD REQUESTING RENEWAL OF ESSENTIAL FUNDING ON MARCH 26 BALLOT

The Livingston Parish School Board is asking voters to renew a 10-year 5.0 mill property tax on March 26 that is dedicated to funding parish-wide construction projects, renovations, improvements and the acquisition of school buildings and property.

The dedicated millage has been in place for 70 years.  Voters first created the funding source in 1952 and have supported its renewal ever since.  A vote YES for the renewal will NOT increase the amount of taxes currently paid by taxpayers.

The 5.0 mills generate more than $3.1 million for schools each year. These revenues are the ONLY parish-wide funds dedicated to construction improvements in the school system, and every school community in the parish benefits from these funds.

The renewal proposition will be on the March 26 ballot. Early voting is scheduled for March 12-19, excluding Sunday, March 13.

December 2021

LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS IMPROVE OVERALL PERFORMANCE THROUGH COVID CHALLENGES

Livingston Parish Public Schools improved its overall performance score to 90.2 for 2021, an increase of 1.7 points as compared to the pre-COVID scores released in 2019, according to the Louisiana Department of Education’s accountability report released earlier this month.

Livingston Parish schools finished fifth out of 69 districts statewide and is one of only three districts in the top ten to increase the simulated district performance score from 2019. In 2019, Livingston Parish Schools finished tenth out of the state’s 69 districts.

“We know that having our students return to our campuses as quickly as they did and having our campuses offer hybrid configurations and creative alternatives that allowed our students to be in face-to-face learning environments with our teachers was the key to minimizing learning deficits created by the COVID pandemic,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.  “Often this effort put an undue burden on our teachers and curriculum leaders, but it was necessary to overcome the challenges.”

The state report showed that the district’s high schools improved their overall cohort graduation rate by 12.4 index points and their overall Strength of Diploma index score by 8.3 points. Also, the progress index for grades 3-12 increased 2 points, while the progress index for grades 3-8 increased 3.3 points.

At the same time, the report showed 32 of the district’s schools were named Top Gains Honorees, which were recognized for a student progress score of 90 or greater from one year to the next, and 12 schools were named Equity Honorees, which were recognized for excellence in educating students with disabilities, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students. Nine schools received both honors.

 

DISTRICT ANNOUNCES TOP PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS OF THE YEAR

The Livingston Parish School Board on Dec. 9 recognized those teachers and principals in the parish who will advance to the state’s regional competition to be evaluated as potential finalists for this year’s state principal and teacher of the year awards.

The district’s top teachers include Elementary Teacher of the Year Dana Thames, a fifth-grade English/language arts teacher at Levi Milton Elementary; Middle School Teacher of the Year Christina Landon, an eighth-grade math teacher at Live Oak Junior High School; and High School Teacher of the Year Gary Mitchell, a history teacher at Live Oak High School.

The district’s top principals of the year include Elementary Principal of the Year Ginger Bishop, principal of Northside Elementary; Middle School Principal of the Year Carolyn Wilkinson, principal of North Corbin Junior High; and High School Principal of the Year Beth Jones, principal of Live Oak High School.

“All of these winners are outstanding individuals who make our district better every day.  The work they do is integral to our school system being highly respected across the state.  I want to thank them for their professionalism, for being great educators, and dedicating themselves to the children of Livingston Parish,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

 

WALKER ELEMENTARY STAFF SPREADS CHRISTMAS CHEER

Staff members from Walker Elementary School pose outside one of the school buses they rode on Dec. 3 to go caroling and sharing gifts with students and families in their school district.

Staff from Walker Elementary School spent an evening spreading Christmas cheer to the students, families, and community members in their school district.  They loaded up on district buses to visit several locations where they sang Christmas carols and handed out small gifts to students. One of Santa’s helpers, Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Officer Deontony Williams, also participated in the visits.

The group made stops at St. Mark’s Baptist Church on Dunn Street, Punk Smith Park on Burgess Avenue, Country Village Apartments on Burgess Avenue, and a green area along Alex Box Boulevard.

Principal Kerma Luzier said school employees visited with nearly 100 students and their families. The gifts that were distributed to the kids were purchased and donated by the school’s staff and teachers.

“It’s important that we connect with our students on and off the campus.  We want them to know that we’re invested in their well-being in all that they do,” Luzier said.  “We all loved this time with our families, and we want to make it a Walker Elementary tradition.”

 

DSHS STEM STUDENT WINS CONGRESSIONAL APP CHALLENGE

U.S. Congressman Garett Graves presents Denham Springs High School student Kameron Arceneaux with a framed certificate and encased American flag during a special ceremony at the STEM & Robotics Center on Dec. 13 for being Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District winner of the Congressional App Challenge.

Denham Springs High School junior Kameron Arceneaux has been named the winner of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge for Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District.  U.S. Congressman Garret Graves visited the STEM & Robotics Center to present him with the news.

Graves said the contest challenges students to develop an app product that can provide a needed service.  Arceneaux took up the challenge earlier this year – asking his father to purchase books on how to write code and working through financial concepts for in his program with help from his mother – to develop a money management app called “InPocket.” Graves said a team of computer scientists and programmers reviewed the many entries to determine that Arceneaux’s app was the best.

Arceneaux has also taken courses at the STEM & Robotics Centers in computational thinking, cybersecurity and data manipulation and analysis.

“I wanted to develop something to help people become more financially responsible, because I know many people have problems with that,” Arceneaux said.

Graves presented Arceneaux with a framed certificate and encased American flag that had previously flown over the capitol.  He said Arceneaux will receive an additional prize to be presented by the competition organizers, and he will have his work put on display in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

November 2021

LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS FOLLOWING NEW STATE PROTOCOL FOR MASK WEARING

Masks are now optional for students and employees while on Livingston Parish Public School campuses. That policy became effective Oct. 28 following the governor’s latest mandate concerning mask-wearing. To be eligible for optional mask-wearing on all campuses, the district also reinstated guidelines for determining quarantines and close contact tracing.

Superintendent Joe Murphy said the district’s current quarantine policy is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Louisiana Department of Health and is required as part of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ proclamation for lifting the mask mandate in public schools.

Murphy said masks will continue to be required for all school bus drivers and passengers, as that is a federal mandate.

“It is important to know that current data on positive and close contact cases in our district has diminished greatly over recent weeks, and we believe our decision is supported by that data,” Murphy said.

He said the district has greatly increased its medical staff across the parish, and all decisions related to quarantine requirements for positive and close contact cases will be based on their medical expertise.

 

SEVENTH WARD ELEMENTARY CELEBRATES NEW CLASSROOM BUILDING

Livingston Parish School leaders participated in the ceremonial ribbon cutting on Oct. 19 for the new classroom addition at Seventh Ward Elementary. Pictured, from left to right, are: (back) School Board President Bo Graham, School Board Member Bradley Harris, State Rep. Buddy Mincey, Jr., (front) Seventh Ward Elementary Instructional Coach Tiffany Battiestella, Seventh Ward Elementary Assistant Principal Bridget Castille, School Board Member Jan Benton, Seventh Ward Elementary Principal Laura Dunlap, Superintendent Joe Murphy, School Board Member Cecil Harris, and School Board Member Dr. Devin Gregoire, Ph.D.

Livingston Parish school leaders held a ceremony last month to celebrate the completion of a new $800,000 classroom addition at Seventh Ward Elementary.

The new addition, which includes four classrooms, restroom facilities and storage, was fully constructed and opened with the start of school on Aug. 11, but school officials had delayed the celebration to allow students to be in the building.

“The addition provides ample space to create a physical layout that allows for the ideal implementation of a variety of project-based learning, flexible seating and the ability to accommodate our current and future growth,” said Seventh Ward Elementary Principal Laura Dunlap, adding that the new building is equipped with modern technology and wireless capability for students to use laptops and to engage in Internet-based activities.

 

SUPERINTENDENT REPORTS CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS UNDERWAY

Construction of the new Southside campus in Denham Springs continues moving forward as contractors erect steel frames, install roofs and walls.  The campus will house Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High.  Construction is scheduled to be completed in time for both schools to open by the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

Superintendent Joe Murphy recently announced that the district is managing several construction projects to expand and improve campus facilities across the parish.

Those projects include a new band room at French Settlement High School, a new cafeteria at Springfield High, ongoing improvements in Live Oak and new campuses for Denham Springs Elementary, Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High, which were destroyed by the 2016 flood. The district also dedicated a new classroom building at Seventh Ward Elementary

“We don’t look like the Livingston Parish School System of old.  We’re growing, expanding, improving, and becoming better at every level, in every community,” Murphy said.

 

FORMER SUPERINTENDENT NAMED SLU COLLEGE OF EDUCATION’S DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS

Former Superintendent John Watson

Former Livingston Parish Public School Superintendent John Watson has been named the 2021 Distinguished Alumnus by Southeastern Louisiana University’s College of Education.

Watson, who served as superintendent of the district from 2012 to 2016, was recognized for his efforts in securing and maintaining a strong relationship between the university and the public school district.  Namely, that relationship helped to strengthen teacher preparation programs that benefitted both institutions and allowed for greater cooperative programs at the Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center.

Watson was also instrumental in helping Dr. William Wainwright, chancellor of the Northshore Technical Community College, secure the donation of property for the construction of the community college campus in Walker.

Watson is the second superintendent from Livingston Parish Public Schools to receive SLU’s College of Education Distinguished Alumni Award.  State Sen. J. Rogers Pope, who received the award in 2016.

 

October 2021

LIVINGSTON PARISH EMPLOYEES RECEIVE LUMP SUM PAYMENT

All Livingston Parish School System employees received an added lump sum payment this month after the school board approved the superintendent’s pay raise plan in September.

Full-time, certified employees received a $1,000 increase plus a one-time stipend of $750, for a single lump sum disbursement of $1,750 on October 7.  The $1,000 increase will be annualized and built into the salary schedules beginning July 1, 2022.

Full-time classified employees received a $500 increase plus a one-time stipend of $750, for a lump sum payment of $1,250 on October 7.  The $500 increase will be annualized and built into the salary schedule beginning July 1, 2022.

Part-time employees received a pay increase and a one-time stipend based proportionately on their job status. Their reoccurring increase will also be built into the salary schedule beginning July 1, 2022.

“I would like to thank the board members for their continued commitment to all our employees and to the children of our community.  I would also like to thank every employee who goes above and beyond every day to make a difference in our children’s lives. We know that when we invest in our children today, we are investing in the future of our community,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

Murphy said the October 7 lump payment was a $7.3 million addition to the district’s current 2021-2022 budget.

 

STEAM EXPRESS ROLLING ACROSS LIVINGSTON PARISH

The STEAM Express is a mobile classroom that is filled with a variety of hands-on interactive learning activities.

The district’s STEAM Express is visiting campuses across the parish this month inspiring learning and excitement for science, technology, engineering, art and math subjects. The STEAM Express is the district’s mobile classroom that is filled with a variety of hands-on interactive activities that students and their parents can do together.

The STEAM Express schedule for October includes the following events:

  • 14 –Juban Parc Elementary “Full STEAM Ahead” Event, 5 pm to 7 pm
  • 15 & 18 — Denham Springs Elementary “PBIS Reward” Activity, 10 am to 1 pm both days
  • 19 — South Walker Elementary “Superhero Math Night” for Pre-K, 1st and 2nd graders, 6 pm to 7:30 pm
  • 21 — North Corbin Elementary “Fall Festival Math Night’” 6 pm to 8 pm
  • 23 – Hebron Church Fall Festival, community-wide event, 5 pm to 7 pm
  • 26 — Maurepas School “Math Night,” 5 pm to 6:30 pm

 

PILOT STEM LEARNING PROGRAM UNDERWAY

Pictured, left to right, are LSU STEM Pathways Consultant Jessica Vicknair; Lewis Vincent Elementary 3rd Grade Math and Science Teacher Karleigh Severio; Seventh Ward Elementary 2nd Grade Teacher Kristina Dunlap; Gray’s Creek Elementary STEM Lab Teacher Julianne Sadler; and Juban Parc Elementary Instructional Coach Jordan Guidry, who recently worked together to develop STEM learning activities for the district’s second-grade social studies curriculum.  In this exercise, they created clay animation displays to depict the early westward expansion of the United States.

Livingston Parish Public Schools is partnering with the LSU Gordon A. Cain Center on a pilot program to integrate STEM learning at the middle and elementary levels.  Twelve schools in the district are participating in the pilot effort, and implementation of the program is underway with each participating campus customizing the program to best fit its teaching corps and student population.

Instructional Supervisor Kelly LaBauve said the nine elementary campuses in the program are committed to implementing a STEM learning activity or project for each nine-week grading period, and the three middle school campuses are offering STEM elective courses to their 7th and 8th grade students. She said the district’s planning team, in conjunction with LSU education consultants, will be observing the various efforts throughout the school year to determine those best practices that can be shared with other schools in the district.

While a full report on the pilot program will not be complete until next summer, LaBauve said schools are already reporting positive indicators.  In particular, she said students appear to be more engaged in STEM learning activities than other activities. They are expressing more creativity in developing their work, and they are taking more ownership of their work, she said.  At the same time, she said teachers are seeing a decrease in negative classroom behavior in those class periods where STEM integration is occurring.

 

DENHAM SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL HOSTS ROBOTICS COMPETITION

Robotics teams from high schools in Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma participated in a competition on October 9 at Denham Springs High School’s Hornsby Gym.

The 8th Annual Dow Red Stick Rumble, an off-season FIRST® (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition and Festival was sponsored by Dow Chemical. The gym was transformed into a space station, where students competed with giant robots battling on a field designed from the minds of Lucasfilm and Star Wars: Force for Change. The winning team received the coveted Red Stick Rumble Trophy.

Denham Springs placed two teams in the competition.  Denham Venom #2 was among the top three alliance of robots. Denham Venom #1, which was part of a second-ranked alliance, finished a runner-up in the competition, having to compete against fellow classmates in the final match.

 

Dow Red Stick Rumble Director Daniel Eiland announces the start of a new robotics competition round. Schools from Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma competed in the Oct. 9 event.

The Denham Venom #1 team operated FRC 8044 for the robotics competition, which was tasked with capturing balls, throwing them through a target and returning to an anchored position in the center of the court. The team included, pictured left to right, LSU student and team mentor Bailey Smoorenburg, Junior Brady Procell, and Junior Logan Labauve.

September 2021

BOARD APPROVES PAY RAISES FOR EMPLOYEES

The Livingston Parish School Board has approved a $1,000 increase in annual pay to all full-time certified employees and a $500 increase in annual pay to all full-time classified employees.  At the same time, all full-time employees will receive a one-time cash award of $750.  Part-time employees will receive a pay increase and a one-time stipend based proportionately on their job status.

Superintendent Joe Murphy said the pay increase for the current fiscal year will be disbursed for the current fiscal year in a single lump sum payment on Oct. 7.

“Our people have endured hardships over the past few weeks that may certainly merit the need for these additional funds at this time,” he said. “Our plan is to pay this year’s monies – the annual increase and the one-time stipend – in a single lump sum payment on Oct 7.  Then, those annual increases, the $1,000 and $500 allocations, respectively, that are to reoccur each year will be built into the district’s salary schedule beginning next fiscal year.”

The pay increases accounts for a $7.3 million addition to the district’s 2021-2022 budget, according to Livingston Parish School Finance Director Kim Stewart. She said the additional monies for the pay raises are available because of increased sales tax revenues.

 

REOPENING PROCESS AFTER HURRICANE IDA A “DAY-BY-DAY EFFORT”

Holden School Principal Kris Roundtree, center, helps the school’s custodians, Teresa Barton, left, and Lenelda Poche, right, sweep a room that was damaged by Hurricane Ida. Holden is one of five schools that reopened on Sept. 13.

Livingston Parish Public Schools announced school closures for Monday, Aug. 30, in advance of Hurricane Ida’s scheduled landfall on Sunday, Aug. 29.  That closure proved necessary as much of the parish received Category 1 force winds that toppled trees and power lines and ripped into thousands of homes and structures. The powerful winds also damaged drinking water systems and communications infrastructure.

“Our recovery process from this storm has been a day-by-day effort,” Murphy said.  “As progress has been made, we have reinstituted those activities that we can. It’s been important to respond in a safe, deliberate way to ensure our campuses have basic services, and that our transportation routes are safe and accessible to the students we serve.”

Murphy noted that most schools, 36 of 49 sites, reopened on Sept. 10, limiting their closure time to eight days.  Another five schools across the district opened on Sept. 13, with students at those schools missing nine days.  Schools in Albany and Springfield were greatly impacted by damage in their communities, causing those schools to not fully reopen until Sept. 16, and Maurepas School, the last to reopen, saw students return to campus on Sept. 21.

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH STUDENTS NAMED NATIONAL MERIT SEMI-FINALISTS

Sydney G. Junot

Matthew J. Larpenter

Two Livingston Parish students have been named National Merit semifinalists for the Class of 2022. They are Sydney G. Junot of Denham Springs High School and Matthew J. Larpenter of Springfield High School.

Junot and Larpenter are among 234 high school seniors in Louisiana who were selected for the prestigious academic honor.

Junot is the daughter of Dustin and Stacey Junot of Denham Springs.  She plans to pursue a pre-med degree in biochemistry or microbiology at either LSU or Auburn University.  Junot scored a 35 on the ACT exam, and she is set to graduate with a 4.65 GPA.

Larpenter is the son of Rodney and Kelly Larpenter of Springfield. He plans to attend LSU to pursue a degree in chemical engineering.  He also plans to continue his hobbies of drawing and character design. Larpenter scored a 35 on the ACT exam, and he will graduate with a 4.17 GPA. His older brother, Andrew Larpenter, who also attended Springfield High School, is currently a student at LSU.

 

August 2021

SUPERINTENDENT RECEIVES “HIGHLY EFFECTIVE” RATING FROM BOARD

LPPS Superintendent Joe Murphy

Livingston Parish School Board members recently reviewed the job performance of Superintendent Joe Murphy, and their evaluations resulted in a “highly effective” rating for the superintendent for a second year in a row.

“As part of our duties as board members, we must evaluate the job performance of our superintendent and his top administrators to determine the quality of work that we are receiving and to identify any areas where performances could be improved,” Livingston Parish School Board President David “Bo” Graham said.

“I am pleased to announce that Superintendent Murphy continues to prove himself to be a highly effective leader during one of this district’s most challenging times,” Graham added.

Graham noted that board members submitted score sheets, ranking the superintendent’s performance on a scale of 1 to 4 in a variety of job performance categories.  On several score sheets, he received a perfect 4.0 rating across the board.  His total average of all score sheets earned him a 3.75 rating, which earned him a rating in the highest tier of leadership performance.

 

DISTRICT IMPLEMENTS PILOT STEM LEARNING PROGRAMS AT MIDDLE AND ELEMENTARY GRADES

Twelve Livingston Parish elementary teachers and LSU STEM Pathways Program consultants gathered for a two-week workshop this summer to develop learning modules to integrate STEM concepts into the “Tier 1” curriculum fields of English/Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies at all elementary grade levels.  Pictured, left to right, are (back row) Kristina Dunlap, Seventh Ward Elementary; Courtney Mury, Seventh Ward Elementary; Danyelle Wax, Eastside Elementary; Jordan Guidry, Juban Parc Elementary; Jessica Edwards, Southside Elementary; (front row) LSU STEM Pathways Consultant Nicole Foster; LSU STEM Pathways Consultant Sheree Wilder; Madalyne Rabalais, Southside Elementary; Julianne Sadler, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Karleigh Severio, Lewis Vincent Elementary; Helena Olson, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Whittany Starns, Northside Elementary; Alysha Leonard, Denham Springs Elementary; Shannon Seal, Freshwater Elementary; and LSU STEM Pathways Consultant Jessica Vicknair.

Livingston Parish Schools is partnering with the LSU Gordon A. Cain Center’s STEM Pathways Program this school year to integrate STEM learning at the middle school and elementary levels through a pilot program in the Denham Springs High School feeder system.

The pilot program will target 12 schools in the parish – nine elementary schools, grades Pre-K to 5, and three middle schools, grades 6-8.  District school leaders are exploring the possibility of expanding the program to additional LPPS schools following the initial pilot during the 2021-2022 school year.

“We’re focusing our efforts on expanding STEM learning in the Denham Springs district because of the existing partnership with LSU at the Denham Springs High School STEM and Robotics Center, which serves students in Grades 9-12. Since all the participating schools feed into the Denham Springs High School STEM and Robotics Center, it is our goal to provide our students with a vertically aligned STEM curriculum that better prepares them for courses offered at the high school level,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said

Instructional Supervisor Kelly LaBauve said two elective courses will be offered at the middle school level – an “Introduction to STEM Pathways and Careers” course will be ofhttps://lsupathways.com/fered to seventh graders at Denham Springs Junior High, Juban Parc Junior High and Southside Junior High.  The eighth graders at those schools will be offered a “Survey of Computer Science” elective option. Both STEM courses will be counted toward high school class credit.

LaBauve said STEM learning will be imbedded within the “Tier 1” or primary subject fields of learning at the elementary school grade levels, including English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Those elementary schools participating in the pilot STEM learning program are Denham Springs Elementary, Eastside Elementary, Freshwater Elementary, Gray’s Creek Elementary, Juban Parc Elementary, Lewis Vincent Elementary, Northside Elementary, Seventh Ward Elementary and Southside Elementary.

 

ALBANY MIDDLE PRINCIPAL RECOGNIZED DURING “WATCH NIGHT CELEBRATION”

Several Livingston Parish principals recently honored their colleague, Albany Middle School Principal John Hill, for being named a finalist for the Louisiana Principal of the Year. Pictured from left to right are Denham Springs Junior High Principal Justin Wax, North Corbin Junior High Principal Carolyn Vosburg, Seventh Ward Elementary Principal Laura Dunlap, Gray’s Creek Elementary Principal Michelle Denton, Live Oak Elementary Principal Michelle Crochet, Hill, Walker Elementary Principal Kerma Luzier, Lewis Vincent Elementary Principal Lynette Wheat, Albany Lower Elementary Principal Robin Stewart; Denham Springs High School Principal Wes Howard.

Livingston Parish school leaders hosted a “Watch Night Celebration” for Albany Middle School Principal John Hill in July to honor him for being named a finalist for Louisiana Principal of the Year. The in-person celebration was held in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Education’s virtual ceremony, which honored all finalists and announced the state’s top winners.

“We wanted to do something special to celebrate John’s accomplishments and the recognition he is receiving from state education leaders.  To be a finalist for the state’s Principal of the Year award is a tremendous honor,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.  “John’s hard work, dedication and leadership skills are exemplary, and they serve as model qualities for all our campus leaders.”

Murphy said Livingston Parish has had three finalists for the state’s top principal award for the past three years, noting that Juban Parc Junior High Principal Greg Hayden was a state finalist in 2020, and Denham Springs Junior High Principal Bryan Wax was a state finalist in 2021.

“We are very proud of all our school principals. They have tough jobs, and we expect much from them,” Murphy said.  “There’s no doubt that their excellent leadership skills and passion for student learning are key ingredients in our district’s success of being among the top school districts in the state.”

 

July 2021

LIVINGSTON PARISH ADDS SROS FOR NEW SCHOOL YEAR

The Livingston Parish School Board recently voted to hire an additional three school resource officers for the 2021-2022 school year.

The new hires will ensure no SRO will have more than four campuses to manage, thereby making the division of the schools more manageable, cutting down on response time and increasing visibility of law enforcement on the campuses.

The school system currently has 10 SROs — eight from the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office and two from the Denham Springs Police Department. The new hires will bring the total to 13. The additional hires will come from the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office and assume their duties at the start of the 2021-22 school year in August.

LPPS Risk Management Coordinator Wendy Gill said the three new officers will preside over schools in the Live Oak, Springfield, and Walker areas.

 

LOCAL SCHOOL LEADERS LEARN FROM ACCLAIMED SPEAKERS AT “TRUE GRIT” CONFERENCE

Livingston Parish’s school principals, central office administrators, curriculum coordinators and coaches, and teaching mentors participated this month in a two-day “True Grit” leadership conference that featured four nationally acclaimed presenters.

The speakers included Beth Houf, co-author of “Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff;” Brad Gustafson, a national advisor for Future Ready Schools and Scholastic; Joe Sanfelippo, author of “Hacking Leadership: 10 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Learning That Teachers, Students, and Parents Love;” and Annette Breaux, co-author of “101 Answers for New Teachers and Their Mentors.”

“It is always out mindset in Livingston Parish to take time to reflect on our successes and to search out ways to improve upon our efforts. This workshop offered our leadership that opportunity to explore the impact of new strategies on school systems across our nation and to explore best practices for our local schools,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

 

HOLDEN AND MAUREPAS SCHOOLS TO RECEIVE LIGHTING FOR SOFTBALL AND BASEBALL FIELDS

Louisiana State Representatives Clay Schexnayder and Buddy Mincey, Jr., were welcomed by local school officials during their visit to Maurepas High School to announce the State Legislature’s approval of funding for lights at the school’s softball and baseball fields. Pictured, from left to right, are Maurepas High Softball Coach Gabrielle Felps, Maurepas High Baseball Coach Anthony Gregoire, Maurepas School Principal Kenny Kraft, Asst. Superintendent Stephen Parrill, Superintendent Joe Murphy, Schexnayder, Mincey, Asst. Superintendent Jody Purvis, Livingston Parish Councilman Randy Delatte, and Project Architect Gene Eleazar of Alvin Fairburn & Associates. The two state representatives also visited with Holden School officials.

The softball and baseball fields at Holden School and Maurepas School will receive lighting fixtures that will allow evening games to be played on their fields, beginning with the 2022 season, thanks to a $1 million appropriation from the Louisiana Legislature.

Holden and Maurepas are the only high schools in the parish that currently do not have lighted softball and baseball fields.

“This investment will allow all our high school campuses to host evening games on their campuses,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.  “This is a big deal for those schools and their communities.  This investment will enable them to do more with their programs, by hosting tournaments and hosting key matchups.”

Louisiana Speaker of the House of Representatives Clay Schexnayder and State Rep. Buddy Mincey, Jr., recently visited the two campuses to announce the funding allocation for the projects.  The two legislators also recognized the support and help of State Sen. Rogers Pope in getting the funding approved.

The price tag to install lights at the fields is projected to be about $300,000 for each campus.  The local legislative delegation allocated additional dollars to allow both schools to make other needed improvements to the fields.

 

NEW MASCOT FOR WALKER ELEMENTARY

Walker Elementary School recently announced its new school wildcat mascot, thanks to the help of Fifth Grader Ivi Grace Butler.

The new mascot’s name is Roary.

Butler suggested the name as part of a school contest.  She said she chose the name because it aligns with the schools motto: “ROAR,” which stands for Respectful, Optimistic, Attentive and Responsible.

Principal Kerma Luzier said students were asked to submit original and creative names for the wildcat mascot to the school.  Entries were accepted between June 21 and July 9.

“We are appreciative to all those students who participated in this fun process, and we look forward to incorporating Roary on our school materials this school year,” Luzier said.

Walker Elementary Fifth Grader Ivi Butler stands in front of the school’s new wildcat mascot that she helped to name “Roary.”

 

June 2021

ELEMENTARY VIRTUAL PROGRAM OFFERED FOR 2021-2022 SCHOOL YEAR

Livingston Parish Public Schools is offering a hybrid virtual learning option for students in grades 3, 4 and 5 who may benefit from partial online instruction for the 2021-2022 school year. Applications are now being accepted.

The program will be an expansion of the district’s current 100 percent virtual program that opened to qualified students in grades 6-12 last school year.  The district’s virtual programs are not social distance learning options in response to the COVID pandemic.  Any distance learning provisions that might be required in response to lingering health concerns for the new school year would be handled outside of this new format in accordance with state health guidelines.

“Much like our virtual program for students in grades 6-12, LPLTC Virtual 3-5 was developed from requests for alternative learning options and based on extensive research of best practices specific to the needs of grades 3-5,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

While the virtual program for the students in grades 6-12 is 100 percent virtual with face-to-face tutoring options, this new program will be a hybrid.  Students will receive virtual instruction three days a week, and they will attend the Literacy and Technology Center campus two days a week, for three to four hours each day, to have face-to-face contact with a teacher and other students.

“Our research has determined even those students who can excel in a virtual environment still need social interaction and face-to-face reassurance in the process,” said Kim Albin, principal of the Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center and the Elementary Virtual Program.

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS TO RECEIVE $50 MILLION IN FEDERAL STIMULUS FUNDING

Livingston Parish Public Schools will receive approximately $50 million dollars through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to be spent in designated priority areas over the next three years.

ESSER funds were awarded to state educational agencies across the nation earlier this year to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continue to have, on elementary and secondary schools. The Louisiana Department of Education received $1.2 billion, adding to $287 million the state department received in the spring of 2020 through the CARES Act.  LDOE, in turn, established spending priorities and guidelines for distributing those funds to individual school districts and charter schools across the state.

“The state has lined out five priorities area, which mirror the state’s critical goals, that will direct our efforts as we work towards achieving our prioritized goals,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.  “This funding allows us to meet many of the critical needs that were exposed during the most challenging days of the pandemic.  At the same time, it will help us strengthen our learning opportunities in this new environment.”

Murphy noted that funds would not be earmarked for recurring expenses, since they would exhaust by September 2024.

 

DISTRICT TO HIRE MORE SCHOOL NURSES

Livingston Parish School Nurse Karen Kemp, right, administers the COVID vaccine to Delia Taylor during the district’s vaccination drive earlier this year. The district is hiring more school nurses to meet the increased demand for healthcare professionals on school campuses across the parish.

The Livingston Parish School Board recently approved a proposal to hire 17 new licensed practical nurses for the 2021-2022 school year, effectively enlarging the district’s school nurse pool to have one for every elementary campus.

Livingston Parish Public Schools currently has 28 fulltime school nurse positions, including 17 registered nurses who serve multiple campuses.  In addition to servicing students at multiple campuses, the registered nurses supervise the LPNs on staff.  The new hires will increase the district’s total count to 49 school nurses.

School Nurse Coordinator Jennifer Wilkinson said the district’s need for on-campus medical staff has increased greatly over the past year due to COVID-19 guidelines.  At the same time, medical needs of students in general have increased considerably over the years, as more students have identified special needs that require greater care from licensed professionals rather than unlicensed staff or paraprofessionals.

 

 

 

May 2021

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR LIFTS STATEWIDE MASK MANDATE

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on May 25 issued a proclamation to lift the state mask mandate, signaling another step toward normalcy in the recovery of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With that proclamation, Livingston Parish Public Schools will not require the use of face masks by employees or students during its summer programs. Livingston Schools does respect the right of any individual who chooses to wear a face covering.

Livingston Schools is encouraging members of the parish community to reach out to their local health care providers to determine if the COVID vaccination is a viable option.

 

HOLDEN TEACHER NAMED TO NATIONWIDE LIST OF EXTRAORDINARY EDUCATORS

School officials recognize Holden Teacher Tracie Porter for being named a National 2021 Extraordinary Educator by Curriculum Associates. Pictured, from left to right, are Holden Assistant Principal Rusty Hutchinson, Porter, Curriculum Coordinator Jennifer Vicknair, Middle School Supervisor of Instruction Dwayne Dykes, Middle School Curriculum Coordinator Scarlet Monteleone, and Holden Principal Kris Roundtree.)

Tracie M. Porter, a sixth-grade math teacher at Holden School, has been chosen among hundreds of K-8 educators nationwide by Curriculum Associates as an Extraordinary Educator for 2021.

Porter is among 44 teachers from 26 states and Washington, D.C., who were selected for the 2021 honor that recognizes educators who exhibit best-in-class use of i-Ready and/or Ready educational materials as part of their daily instruction.  The annual program recognizes educators who have exhibited student growth and achievement through formal assessments, demonstrated innovative and engaging practices for their students, and are “evangelists” for high standards in their systems.

“I am very honored to be named one of the 2021 Extraordinary Educator recipients by Curriculum Associates,” Porter said.  “Being included in a group with such excellent educators is certainly an accomplishment. I believe that collaboration is important in education, and I am blessed to be given this opportunity to collaborate with some of the best.”

The i-Ready program is a comprehensive assessment and instruction program that empowers educators with the resources they need to help all students succeed. By connecting diagnostic data and personalized Instruction, i‑Ready reduces complexity, saves educators time, and makes differentiated instruction achievable in every classroom.

 

DISTRICT PARTNERS WITH FOCUS FOODS FOR FREE MEAL DELIVERY THIS SUMMER

Livingston Parish Public Schools has partnered with Focus Foods to provide free summer meal home delivery to individuals 18 years or younger beginning the week of May 24, 2021. Children do not have to be a student of Livingston Parish Public Schools to participate.

School officials are encouraging parents to register as soon as possible for the bi-weekly meal delivery service.

“All meals will be delivered to the children’s home at no charge to the family. Each delivery will provide two weeks of meals, including frozen and shelf stable meal varieties,” said Sommer Purvis, director of food services.

Purvis noted that while the service is free, it does require a one-time registration. Families interested in the meal service should go to https://focusfoods.formstack.com/forms/livingston_meal_box.

Focus Foods is a leading provider of nutritious meal solutions.  The company’s production facility is located Baton Rouge and is capable of producing more than 50,000 meals per day.  A full-time team manages quality control, including USDA and LDH nutrition guidelines.

 

VOTERS APPROVE $13 MILLION INVESTMENT IN DSHS ATHLETIC FACILITIES

Voters in the Denham Springs School District overwhelmingly approved a proposition to allow the Livingston Parish School Board to invest $13 million into new and improved athletic facilities at Denham Springs High School.  The bonds used to pay for the improvements will be funded through the extension of an existing 8.64 mills in the district.

The proposition, which was on the April 24 ballot, passed with 76 percent approval. The

Construction on the softball and baseball fields are scheduled to begin this summer and finish in time for next year’s seasons. Construction of the track, the field house and the reconfiguration of the soccer and football field will begin in October and should finish by fall of 2022.

School board member Cecil Harris said the board also hope to build new tennis courts if funding is available to make that addition.

 

April 2021

LIVINGSTON PARISH TEACHER-LIBRARIAN NAMED 2021 NATIONAL SCHOOL LIBRARIAN OF THE YEAR

Live Oak Middle School Teacher-Librarian Amanda Jones utilizes technology to share virtual visits with her students through a program she calls “Journeying with Jones.”  Jones has been named a 2021 National School Librarian of the Year.

Amanda Jones, a teacher-librarian at Live Oak Middle School, has been named one of the 2021 School Librarians of the Year by School Library Journal, the premier publication for librarians and information specialists who work with children and teens, and Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education, and media company.

The award recognizes K–12 library professionals for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of technology and services to engage children and teens toward fostering multiple literacies. The recognition proved especially important over the past year as librarians nationwide stepped up to support students, families, and educators who have had to manage distance learning during the COVID pandemic.

Jones is featured in the April issue of the School Library Journal.  The article highlighting Jones’ accomplishments is titled “Journeying with Jones.” It tells how Jones created the Journey with Jones program in March 2020 to connect with her students who had stopped coming to school in-person because of the COVID pandemic. Other special literacy initiatives Jones has created for her students include a Battle of the Books competition that has grown to 10 schools district-wide; the 40 Book Challenge; and the MESH Society (media literacy, ethics, sociology, and history), in which students read titles across these categories.

As a 2021 School Librarian of the Year Award winner, Jones will receive a suite of awards from Scholastic, including a $2,500 cash award and $2,500 in-kind digital and/or print products for her library, in addition to a visit from John Schumacher, the Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs, who will gift one book to every student at Live Oak Middle School, and a Scholastic Book Fairs “Mr. Schu’s Picks” collection of books for the school library.

 

ALBANY MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL NAMED SEMI-FINALIST FOR STATE PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR

John Hill, Finalist for State Principal of the Year

Albany Middle School Principal John Hill, who was named Livingston Parish’s Middle School Principal of the Year, has advanced to be a state semi-finalist for Louisiana’s Principal of the Year.

The winners of the state’s 2022 Teacher and Principal of the Year Award Programs will be announced live at the 2021 Teacher Leader Summit on May 25 in New Orleans.  All the semi-finalists will be honored at the Annual Excellent Educators Awards Gala, sponsored by Dream Teachers, the Louisiana Association of Principals, and the Louisiana Department of Education, on July 16.

“Congratulations to Mr. Hill for being rightly recognized for his outstanding performance as an educator,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.  “He is an exceptional principal who exemplifies the best of our education profession.”

 

VOTERS ASKED TO APPROVE $13 MILLION INVESTMENT IN DSHS ATHLETIC FACILITIES ON APRIL 24 BALLOT

The Livingston Parish School Board is asking voters to extend an existing 8.64 mills dedicated to capital improvements in the Denham Springs School District to fund much-needed athletic facility improvements at the high school with no increase in taxes paid each year.

The bond election proposition will appear on the April 24 ballot for voters in the Denham Springs School Taxing District. School Board Member Cecil Harris said the district’s strong AA bond rating and current record-low interest rates make this the best time for school leaders to obtain additional funds, since that can be done with no increased annual cost to taxpayers.

School leaders propose investing $13 million in new facilities, upgrades, and expansions. Those proposed improvements include: the realignment of DSHS Yellow Jacket Stadium, creating better security designs for parking and entry; a new turf surface for soccer and football competition; a new track in the stadium and a dedicated field events area; a new field house with accommodations for male and female student-athletes; expanded weight rooms for all sports; the addition of a baseball field facility and softball field facility on the campus; and a new dedicated practice area for the marching band.

The proposed improvements will be the first major improvements to Denham Springs High School’s overall athletic program and facilities in more than 65 years.

 

DISTRICT CELEBRATES READING WITH DR. SEUSS

Superintendent Joe Murphy recently read a popular Dr. Seuss book to students at Seventh Ward Elementary School to celebrate Read Across America, a national initiative to encourage and endorse the importance of reading. The event is recognized on March 2, the day of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birthday. Several school and community leaders participated in reading activities across the parish.