STATE REPORT SHOWS PERFORMANCE IMPROVED AT MOST LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS
Although the state department used a new formula this year in calculating school scores and assigning letter grades, a comparison of school performance scores under the old formula – for an “apples to apples” comparison – shows significant gains across the parish.
“Despite the confusion of the new scoring system that has changed letter grades for our schools and district, the outcomes on our assessments and growth indicators continue to show we’re raising the bar in Livingston Parish,” Supervisor of Instruction Tracy McRae said.
McRae noted that under the state’s old grading formula, the district would have received a performance score of 108.2 – which would have been a 3.3 point increase from the previous year’s calculation.
LIVINGSTON PARISH SECOND-HIGHEST IN STATE FOR STRENGTH OF DIPLOMA
Significant gains were reported at the parish’s high schools, according to the state’s latest report. The most impressive measurement is that for the 2017-2018 school year, Livingston Parish ranked No. 2 in the state with 73.7 percent of all graduates earning more than a standard diploma.
The parish’s high schools recorded a record-high graduation rate of 86.6 percent, an increase of 3.4 percent, with seven of the parish’s nine high schools improving their cohort graduation rate (those students graduating in a four-year period). Springfield High led the way with a 19-point increase. French Settlement High improved 16.2 points, Albany High grew 15.2 points and Doyle went up 14.6 points.
The district has put much focus on strengthening the diplomas of parish graduates by giving them opportunities to earn basic or advanced academic and/or career and technical certifications. Those certifications are recognized by post-secondary colleges and industry trade schools.
WALKER HIGH GRAD ELECTED FIRST LOUISIANA WOMAN TO SERVE AS NATIONAL FFA OFFICER
Layni LeBlanc, a graduate of Walker High School, has become the first woman from Louisiana to serve as a national officer of the National Future Farmers of America organization. LeBlanc is currently studying animal science at LSU, and she hopes to attend veterinary school after graduation.
As an FFA officer, she will travel to 40 states and Japan to promote agriculture and the organization during a one-year leave from the school. She will serve as national secretary on a team of five other officers from different states.
LeBlanc is the first Louisianan in 31 years to serve as a national officer and fifth ever. She is the first female from Louisiana to serve at that level.
LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOL BOARD TO SEAT FOUR NEW MEMBERS IN 2019
Livingston Parish voters in school board districts 8 and 9 elected two new members to the board on Nov. 6, while districts 1 and 4 gained new members as the current seat holders announced they would not run and only person signed up for each of those two seats during the July 18-20 qualifying period.
The four new board members who will take office January 1, 2019, include Brad Sharp of Livingston, District 1; Brad Harris of Denham Springs, District 4; Frank Parrino of Springfield, District 8, and Devin Gregoire of Albany, District 9.
Returning board members are Kellee Hennessy-Dickerson of Watson, District 2; Jan Benton of Denham Springs, District 3; Buddy Mincey, Jr., of Denham Springs, District 5; Jeff Cox of Walker, District 6; and David “Bo” Graham of Walker, District 7; all of whom received no opposition for re-election to their seats.
TWO PARISH SCHOOLS HONORED FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS
Northside Elementary and Eastside Elementary have earned spots on the state’s “Honor Roll” as a result of high performance during the 2017-2018 school year in their early childhood programs, according to a report released by the Louisiana Department of Education.
Both schools were recognized in the “Excellence” category, which is the state’s highest possible rating on the school’s annual Performance Profile Report. Only 90 schools statewide earned this top rating, according to the state report.
Livingston Parish Public Schools currently offers 56 early childhood classes to Pre-K children at 24 different school sites. Supervisor of Instruction Stacey Milton said 15 parish school sites were within 0.5 points of also reaching the state’s “excellent” rating.
LIVINGSTON PARISH ROLLS OUT STEAM EXPRESS
Livingston Parish Public School officials recently rolled out their newest effort in creating greater access to learning technologies by introducing the STEAM Express – a mobile classroom designed to take learning opportunities to community neighborhoods.
The STEAM Express, which will be focused on introducing science, technology, engineering, arts and math concepts to students, is the brainchild of the district’s Instructional Technology department that was made possible by community sponsors who paid to retrofit a bus into the mobile classroom.
The STEAM Express is decorated to take the appearance of a steam locomotive, including a working steam whistle, and is equipped with Wi-Fi, touch screen monitors and laptops, and hands-on, interactive modules to help students learn a variety of subjects. The flexible design allows educators to easily transition the mobile classroom set up from elementary-level activities to high school-level projects.
“The idea behind this mobile classroom project is to bring STEAM-based education to the schools and into our neighborhoods to help students and to give them an experience with STEAM education that they might not otherwise have an opportunity to be exposed to,” Superintendent Rick Wentzel said. “The mobile classroom is adaptable to a variety of projects and all age groups.”
LEWIS VINCENT ELEMENTARY NAMED NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOL
Lewis Vincent Elementary has been named a National Blue Ribbon School based on the school’s overall academic performance and progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
The school’s performance score has improved 13.1 points since the 2014-2015 school year, and is in the top 15 percent statewide for closing the gap between the academic performance of the general student population and economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and English as a Second Language (ESL) students.
“What’s really so amazing about this award is that it recognizes our accomplishments during the time of our recovery from the flood. The challenges we faced in the flood recovery are not factors for this award. Our school achieved success at this highest level of recognition in spite of the challenges set before us. I am so proud of what we’ve achieved together; we truly are stronger than ever,” Lewis Vincent Elementary Principal Lynette Wheat said.
The National Blue Ribbon award has been presented by the U.S. Department of Education since 1982. Lewis Vincent Elementary is only the second school in Livingston Parish to ever receive the coveted National Blue Ribbon designation. French Settlement Elementary earned the designation in 2009.
HALF-CENT SALES TAX TO FUND SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS ON NOV. 6 BALLOT
The Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office is asking voters to approve a half-cent sales tax on the Nov. 6, 2018, ballot to fund the hiring, training and staffing of uniformed School Resource Officers (SROs) at every school in the parish. SROs are sworn law enforcement officers who are specially selected and trained to promote safety within schools.
The school district currently employs 10 SROs across the district and pays half their cost through cooperative endeavor agreements with the sheriff’s office, City of Denham Springs and Town of Walker.
SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR NAMED NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP SEMIFINALIST
Springfield High School Senior Andrew Larpenter has been named a 2018 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist.
Larpenter is the son of Rodney and Kelly Larpenter of Killian, Louisiana. He is president of his senior class and a member of the school’s golf team and Beta Club. He participates in local community service projects and is currently overseeing the school’s public service announcement competition to promote positive behavior.
Merit Scholar semifinalists are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies. From the 1.6 million students who met entry requirements, approximately 16,000 were selected as semifinalists. Larpenter is currently vying for one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarships that will be offered next spring.
COMMUNITY SAYS FAREWELL TO SOUTHSIDE ELEMENTARY AND SOUTHSIDE JUNIOR HIGH CAMPUSES
Past and present educators, students and community leaders gathered on the campuses of Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High on September 26 to say farewell to the beloved campuses that have had such a lasting impact on their lives and the lives of thousands of students in the Denham Springs community.
Both schools will soon be demolished because of substantial damage caused by the August 2016 flood. The schools have remained shuddered since the flood, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently approved a funding plan for the district to rebuild both schools.
“We are excited about the future for these schools, and the impact they will continue to have on the children of Livingston Parish,” Superintendent Rick Wentzel said. “With that said, we know that this is a bittersweet time for so many, and we wanted to give our people who are so passionately connected to these two schools an opportunity to say farewell and to be a part of this new chapter.”
Both the new Southside Junior High and Southside Elementary will be rebuilt on the current 27-acre site of Southside Junior High on Highway 16 in Denham Springs. The combined campus design will house two distinct schools – Southside Elementary for K-5 students and Southside Junior High for 6-8 students – but they will share some facilities and recreational space to reduce duplication where possible and maximize cost savings.
DISTRICT TO REBUILD SOUTHSIDE JUNIOR HIGH AND SOUTHSIDE ELEMENTARY AT SAME LOCATION
As part of the district’s flood rebuilding effort, it will rebuild Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High on the same 27-acre location at 26535 Highway 16 in Denham Springs where the current Southside Junior High now stands.
Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy said the combined campus will house two distinct schools – Southside Elementary for K-5 students and Southside Junior High for 6-8 students – but they will share some facilities and recreational space to reduce duplication where possible and maximize cost savings.
“This rebuilding plan offers us an opportunity to be more efficient and create a safer environment. For many years, district officials have wished to relocate Southside Elementary because of traffic and safety concerns; this combined campus design allows us to address those concerns and maximize our resources,” Murphy said.
The district recently received an approved funding plan from FEMA to rebuild all three schools that remain closed since the August 2016 flood. The third school, Denham Springs Elementary, will be rebuilt at its original location on Range Avenue near the high school.
FORMER SOUTHSIDE ELEMENTARY LOCATION TO BECOME DENHAM SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL SATELLITE CAMPUS
The former Southside Elementary campus on Range Avenue in Denham Springs will be rebuilt into a satellite campus for Denham Springs High School where digital media and emergent technology courses will be offered to students in grades 9-12.
The satellite high school campus will use digital media curriculum from the LSU STEM Pathways program. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy said FEMA managers approved having the district demolish all but two buildings on the Southside Elementary campus – the multi-purpose building and cafeteria building, which includes five classrooms and a large meeting space. The district will fully restore those facilities and convert them to educational space for the high school. Those buildings are valued at $2.1 million.
Murphy said the demolition and refurbishment of the surviving structures will be completed before the start of next school year.
“Having access to these existing facilities opens up opportunities for students to earn dual college credit, additional Carnegie credits and industry credentialing,” Murphy said.
DOYLE HIGH TEACHER RESPONDS TO EMERGENCY CALL
When Doyle High School Teacher Matthew Stumpf received an emergency page from the Fire District 6 call center that a Livingston Parish school bus was involved in a fiery crash near Satsuma, he quickly called for an administrator to take over his classroom and rushed to the scene.
As a volunteer fire fighter and emergency medical response instructor, Stumpf is trained to manage such emergencies. “But when you hear that a school bus is involved, it’s scary. I knew I had to respond to do what I could for the kids,” he said.
Stumpf joined other fire fighters from Fire Districts 4, 6 and 7 at the scene to extinguish flames that had engulfed the 18-wheeler truck cab that had slammed into the back of the bus. Their quick action stopped the fire from spreading to the truck’s fuel tanks or the nearby damaged school bus.
“I certainly will take this experience back to the classroom and share it with my students,” he said. Stumpf teaches emergency medical response and sports medicine classes at Doyle High School. He is a former High School Teacher of the Year winner in Livingston Parish.
“My students will want to learn from this real-life example, and I will have the joy of sharing what I do in a meaningful way. It’s why I do what I do,” Stumpf said.
FRENCH SETTLEMENT HIGH SCHOOL RECEIVES $200,000 GRANT TO EXPAND AP PROGRAM
French Settlement High School recently received a $200,000 National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) grant from ExxonMobil, which will be utilized over a three-year period to expand the school’s Advanced Placement (AP) program. AP classes include college-level curricula as part of the course instruction. Students who earn a 3, 4 or 5 on the AP exam may be eligible for course credit at many colleges and universities.
“This grant has enabled us to expand our AP course offerings and help to equip all of our teachers with the tools they need to challenge our students to perform on a very high level,” French Settlement High School Principal Lee Hawkins said. “Our students have embraced our mission statement at FSHS, which is ‘Exceed Expectations. All Day. Every Day.’ as evidenced by the fact that nearly one-third of our student body is enrolled in at least one AP course.”
Hawkins said he plans to add an AP math course to the high school curriculum next year, and another AP computer class and AP science class the following year.
LIVE OAK HIGH SCHOOL BREAKS GROUND ON NEW BASEBALL-SOFTBALL COMPLEX
The district will soon begin construction on a new $6.8 million baseball-softball complex at Live Oak High School. The complex will include artificially-turfed fields, covered grandstands, coaches’ offices, team locker rooms, an indoor hitting facility, press boxes and lights.
School officials and community leaders recently participated in a ground breaking ceremony for the project, which is expected to be completed by next school year
NORTHSHORE TECHNICAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE BREAKS GROUND ON NEW WALKER CAMPUS
LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS BEGINS YEAR WITH 16 OF 19 SITES RESTORED TO PRE-FLOOD STATUS
Every public school campus in Livingston Parish that was damaged by the flood — except for the three substantially-damaged campuses that have been under the purview of FEMA – has been restored to pre-flood status, and in most cases, improved from its pre-existing condition.
This milestone is no small accomplishment. Contractors and maintenance supervisors estimate that the work completed over this nearly two-year span is equivalent to building at least six new schools, while maintaining reoccurring maintenance jobs and repairs throughout the district.
Of those 16 impacted sites, five received three feet of water, and four received four to six feet of water, with three schools – Denham Springs Elementary, Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High – receiving catastrophic damage.
“A significant factor in this recovery timeline has been our ability to cause minimal disruption to classroom learning,” Murphy said, noting that much of the work has been done over the past two summers and during holiday breaks, when the students and teachers were not on the campuses.
FEMA GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO REBUILD 2 OF 3 “SUBSTANTIALLY DAMAGED” SCHOOLS
After nearly two years of uncertainty over the future of three “substantially damaged” schools in the Denham Springs area, Livingston Parish School officials have received the go-ahead from FEMA to begin the process of demolishing and rebuilding two of the three campus sites.
Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy said the district has received permission to replace all but the multi-purpose room at Denham Springs Elementary School, and all but the band room at Southside Junior High School. The band room and multi-purpose building were newer and had less damage from the 2016 flood.
He said the district is still negotiating with FEMA on the rebuilding cost and plans for Southside Elementary.
Murphy said designs are not yet set, but he anticipates elevating all of the structures on fill and using cinder block instead of sheet rock, so the structures will be more resilient in case of another disaster. He said the process to rebuild the schools will take from
2 ½ to 3 years. Students assigned to those schools will remain at the temporary campus sites until the home campuses are fully rebuilt.
DISTANCE LEARNING TECHNOLOGY TO CONNECT STUDENTS TO GREATER OPPORTUNITIES
Schools in the southern-most part of Livingston Parish will be better able to connect to each other and the world, overcoming challenges of their rural settings, thanks to the district’s participation in a USDA grant program to incorporate distance learning curriculum opportunities at those campuses.
“The program electronically links teachers in one area to students in another,” said Distance Learning Program Director Janet Blakenship, adding that distance learning can be as effective as classroom learning in terms of student performance. It offers opportunities for enhanced curriculum and advanced classes, such as physics, anatomy, chemistry, music theory, or calculus.
The technology also allows teachers to include curriculum-based virtual field trips in their instruction, including visits to museums, planetariums, zoos, and even space. Classes can use the technology to collaborate with other schools and businesses, including team teaching with different schools.
Those schools participating in the distance learning program are Springfield High, Springfield Middle, Springfield Elementary, French Settlement High, French Settlement Elementary, Maurepas and Frost.
HIGH PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS SCORE MASTERY AND ADVANCED ON STATE ASSESSMENTS
Students in Livingston Parish Public Schools continue to exceed their state peers on accountability tests, with nearly half of all students at all grade levels achieving Mastery and Advanced ratings on the latest state assessments, according to the Louisiana Department of Education’s report released this week.
The results of the Spring 2018 Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) exams for grades 3-8 and high school End of Course assessments show 45 percent of all students scored Mastery or above on the combined sections.
“Our students continue to perform at high levels across every grade,” said Superintendent Rick Wentzel. “We are especially proud of the progress we’re making in literacy. In this category, every grade level but one had well over half of all students score in the top categories; and that one grade level was near the halfway score with 48 percent!”
He noted the following district-wide results were reported for Livingston Parish students who tested in English/Language Arts:
The latest state report also showed Livingston Parish Schools to have strong scores in math. The most outstanding results came among 8th graders who took the Algebra 1 exam – 95 percent scored Mastery or Advanced. At the same time, 51 percent – more than half – of the district’s eight graders and those high schoolers taking Algebra 1 scored at the Mastery and Advanced levels. The next highest percentage of top performers came from grades 4 and 5, with 44 percent and 43 percent, respectively, achieving Mastery and Advanced in math.
DENHAM SPRINGS HIGH WELCOMES JUNIOR ROTC PROGRAM
School officials and U.S. Congressman Garret Graves recently celebrated the opening of a U.S. Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Denham Springs High School. The new program will be housed in a newly renovated and expanded facility on the campus.
It will be managed by Senior Instructor Lt. Col. Ronald Bias, who said he has begun meeting with students already, and anticipates as least 170 students to enroll in the program this school year.
DISTRICT EXPANDING ESL PROGRAM
The Livingston Parish School System is expanding its ESL (English as a Secondary Language) program for the coming school year to help manage the district’s increased demand. The number of students going through the program has doubled since 2016, according to Supervisor of Instruction Steve Vampran.
The district is opening a new registration center at the Pathways Campus and Adult Education Center, located at 13330 Burgess Road, across from Walker Freshman High School, to handle incoming students and to take the pressure off local campuses. A new parish-wide coordinator and office secretary are being hired this summer to manage the new center.
Vampran said the district currently employs five certified ESL teachers and 13 paraprofessionals who work with ESL students. He anticipates the district having six certified ESL teachers and 14 paraprofessionals onboard for the new school year.
“We have seen our population increase from 450 students to 860 currently over a two-year span. And with this recognition, we realized something needed to be done,” Vampran said. He predicts the district’s numbers to rise to 1,000 ESL students by next school year.
ESL programs are designed to help international students learn English or improve their English language and writing skills. The district also offers free English literacy skills classes for parents. Vampran said interested persons can enroll or get more information by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 225-664-9427.
DISTRICT WORKING WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT TO ADD THREE OFFICERS TO CAMPUSES
Livingston Parish Public Schools will add three more law enforcement officers to its campuses in the coming academic year amid concerns about safety following a number of school shootings across the nation.
The school board approved the 2018-2019 budget to include monies to pay for another police officer in Denham Springs and two additional sheriff’s deputies throughout the parish. The additional officers bring the total number of school resource officers (SROs) working among the parish’s 46 school campuses to 10. The district will pay half the cost of the new officers as it does the current ones. The law enforcement agencies pay the other half. Superintendent Rick Wentzel said the school board’s new budget includes approximately $48,000 for each officer.
The additions come as Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard is proposing a half-cent sales tax on the Nov. 6, 2018 election ballot to fully fund SROs on every school campus in the parish.
LIVINGSTON PARISH TEACHERS LEARNING HOW TO TRANSFORM TRADITIONAL CLASSROOMS INTO MORE EFFECTIVE LEARNING SPACES
The traditional classroom image of desks neatly lined in rows may soon become something of the past in Livingston Parish.
That’s because more teachers across the district are incorporating creative learning spaces with flexible seating in their classrooms to more effectively increase student focus, collaboration and learning.
“We began this initiative in earnest at some of our elementary schools, where traditional student desks were replaced with flexible seating options. The results of the new classroom configurations have been overwhelmingly positive – students are more comfortable, more engaged and more focused on their tasks,” Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy said.
Instructional Technology Facilitator Nikki Lavergne said Learning Spaces workshops offered during the 2017-2018 school year maxed out quickly, prompting the district to schedule more in the summer. Those too, were so popular that extra sessions were added, she said.
WALKER HIGH SCHOOL FISHING TEAMS TO COMPETE AT BASS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNEY
Two two-man fishing teams from Walker High School will compete in the 2018 BASS National High School Championship next month, including incoming junior Hanson Chaney and incoming senior Bronson Beck who were ranked as the No. 1 BASS High School Fishing Team in Louisiana for 2018.
Also advancing to the national tournament, which will be held in Paris, Tennessee, August 2-4, are Jason McMillan and Hunter Kogel, who recently graduated. They had participated in the national tournament last year, prior to their senior year, becoming the school’s first-ever national fishing tournament finalists. They finished 4th overall in the state this year to qualify for a return trip to the national tournament.
“Our team has done extremely well this year, finishing in 2nd place overall in the state, and having four teams finish in the Top 20 in Louisiana, out of a total of 247 teams statewide,” said Jeremy Ferachi, the BASS fishing team sponsor for Walker High School. He noted that Peyton Matherne and Lance LeBlanc placed 14th in the state, and Brennan Richard and Mackie Faucheaux finished the season in 16th place. Matherne returns this year as a sophomore, which Richard and Faucheaux return as seniors. LeBlanc graduated in May.
ASSESS THE NEED COLLECTING SCHOOL SUPPLY DONATIONS
Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor and local volunteers are once again gearing up to collect monetary donations and supplies for the parish-wide Assess the Need Campaign that is expected to provide nearly 3,000 students with the supplies they need to be successful in the classroom during the 2018-2019 school year.
Volunteers will be taking donations for this year’s drive from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4, and Sunday, Aug. 5, at the three Super Wal-Mart stores in Livingston Parish – located in Denham Springs, Walker and Watson. Donations can also can be given online at www.AssesstheNeed.com, or through the Assess the Need Facebook page.
This is the 18th consecutive year Taylor has sponsored Assess the Need.
SUMMER CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS UNDERWAY ACROSS THE PARISH
With students out of class for the summer and many campuses unoccupied, the district’s facility planning and maintenance departments are hard at work on an array of construction projects. The following schools have projects currently underway that are being funded with existing district savings; except for the Walker High School projects, which are being funded with a dedicated millage approved by voters:
Walker High School –
• new main classroom and administrative building that will contain 28 classrooms, a library, a biology lab, a chemistry lab, a special needs room, all administrative and support personnel offices, and restrooms. The new building will also house the school’s Green & White Cooke site and Neighbors Federal Credit Union office. (complete by August 2018)
• new gymnasium (complete by December 2018)
Doyle High School –
• addition of 29 parking spaces and lighting of parking lot (complete by August 2018)
• relocation of main power fee and drainage improvement to the campus (complete by August 2018)
Springfield Elementary –
• addition of 115 parking spaces to accommodate large events at the high school gym, located at the rear of the campus; and replace windows and refurbish exterior on two classroom wings, each containing 6 classrooms (complete by August 2018)
French Settlement High School –
• expand the media room to house distance learning classes (complete by August 2018)
Pathways and Adult Education Building –
• create three classrooms, replace ceiling and floor tile, and renovate windows to create new ESL registration center (complete by August 2018)
• add carpentry area to campus to house a new Carpentry 1 class (complete by August 2018)
Denham Springs Freshman High/Juban Parc Elementary/Juban Parc Junior High–
• complete exterior painting of campus buildings (August 2018)
Pine Ridge Alternative School –
• replace roof of the main building (complete by August 2018)
Maurepas High School –
• refurbish original building, repairing all exterior stucco surfaces, replacing windows and soffits, painting exterior and upgrading the front entrance (completed by December 2018)
Holden High School –
• renovate the Career Technical Education Building (complete by August 2019)
Albany High School –
• construct two new buildings: one with three regular classrooms and a special needs room; the second with eight classrooms and a teacher work room. Restrooms to be added to both buildings. (complete by August 2019)
Albany Lower Elementary School –
• construct a classroom building with 16 classrooms, a 60-station computer lab and restrooms. (complete by August 2019)
DISTRICT WRAPPING UP FLOOD RECOVERY EFFORTS ON OPERATING CAMPUSES, CLOSED CAMPUSES REMAIN IN LIMBO
In addition to campus expansions and regular maintenance, the district is still working hard to complete repairs and renovations as a result of damage caused by the August 2016 flood. These projects are being funded with district reserves, with the anticipation of receiving reimbursement monies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cover much of the costs. The following schools are scheduled to have recovery projects completed by August 2018:
- Denham Springs High School – complete the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) facility
- Denham Springs Freshman High, Denham Springs High, Denham Springs Junior High, Lewis Vincent Elementary and Seventh Ward Elementary – replace floor tiles and baseboards at all campuses
With the completion of these projects, all flood recovery efforts will be completed this year except for those involving the three closed campuses – Denham Springs Elementary, Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High. Negotiations are still ongoing with FEMA and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOSHEP), and to date, no work plan has been approved for any of the campuses. All three schools will continue to operate at their temporary locations for the 2018-2019 school year.
CONGRESSMAN GRAVES ADVANCES FAVORABLE LEGISLATION FOR LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS, ACTION STILL NEEDED BY THE U.S. SENATE
Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves recently announced that he and members of the Louisiana Delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives added an amendment to the federal budget to provide $20 million in federal aid to Livingston Parish Public Schools. The proposed amendment, however, still awaits approval by the U.S. Senate.
At the same time, Graves has proposed that FEMA waive insurance guidelines that could severely hamper the school district’s recovery efforts. Currently, FEMA requires a $500,000 deductible per building be paid as a penalty for the school district not having flood insurance. Graves is proposing the penalty be reduced to $500,000 per campus – not per building – to save the district millions of dollars. Graves said a similar waiver was granted to schools in the New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina.
STUDENTS LEARN HOW TO OPERATE DRONES AT SUMMER CAMPS
Students in Livingston Parish recently took part in summer camps at Walker High School to learn how to navigate the skies with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, as well as learn the basic safety guidelines and applications of the new technology.
Instructor Steve Johnson offered two three-day sessions: a beginner’s camp for students in grades 4-8, and an advanced camp for older students.
“This class introduced our students to the many facets of drones, robotics and the future of the drone industry,” Johnson said.
He said students learned how to operate drones safely and ethically by gaining an understanding of the technology itself, as well as some of the laws and regulations surrounding drones. They also learned about business and commercial applications of the technology.
SUMMER FOOD PROGRAM PROVIDING FREE MEALS
Livingston Parish Public Schools anticipates serving nearly 15,000 free meals this summer to students enrolled in academic programs across the parish.
Assistant Supervisor of Child Nutrition Programs Sommer Purvis said the district is providing pre-packaged breakfast and lunch meals to all campuses where summer courses are being taught, including Juban Parc Elementary, Northside Elementary, South Live Oak Elementary, Westside Junior High, North Corbin Junior High, Springfield Middle School, Doyle High School, Denham Springs High School and Live Oak High School.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR HONORED
LIVINGSTON PARISH NO. 2 FOR NUMBER OF GRADUATES EARNING CREDENTIALED DIPLOMAS
Livingston Parish Public Schools ranks No. 2 in Louisiana for the number of high school graduates who earned a diploma with added credentials, according to the Louisiana Department of Education’s recent report on graduation rates.
Nearly 74 percent of all high school graduates in Livingston Parish earned an Advanced or Basic credentialed diploma, according to the report. The most recent data for the 2016-2017 school year shows that Livingston Parish students have steadily increased the strength of diplomas earned over time. According to the latest report, 21.4 percent earned diplomas with Advanced credentials and 52.3 percent earned diplomas with Basic credentials. Those with Advanced credentials are up considerably from the 1.7 percent who earned them in 2012-2013.
Livingston Parish also ranked No. 2 for the fewest number of graduates earning a standard diploma. Only 12.8 percent earned a standard diploma with no additional credentials in 2016-2017.
“Our district is making steady progress in improving the level of rigor and level of achievement earned by our students,” Livingston Parish Public Schools’ Supervisor of Instruction Tracy McRae said. “More and more of our students are finishing our system with highly regarded diplomas, earning them greater access to post-secondary career and education opportunities.”
McRae noted that Livingston Parish also recorded its highest graduation rate to date in 2016-2017. The report showed 86.6 percent of Livingston Parish’s high school students graduated in the allotted four-year time – that’s up 3.4 percent from the previous year, which saw 83.2 percent graduate on time; and up 7 percent from the 2013-2014 school year, when 79.6 percent graduated on time.
2018 STUDENTS OF THE YEAR RECOGNIZED
Livingston Parish Public Schools recently recognized the district’s top Students of the Year winners in grades 5, 8 and 12, as well as those students from each of the parish’s schools. The parish’s 2018 Student of the Year winners are Emily Maranto, a senior at Live Oak High School; Carson Jones, an 8th grader at Live Oak Junior High; and Jace Griffin, a 5th grader at Live Oak Middle School. All three winners competed in the state’s regional competition.
All those Livingston Parish students who were named 2018 Student of the Year for their respective schools include:
TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS OF THE YEAR HONORED
Livingston Parish Public Schools recognized the district’s top principals and teachers for the 2017-2018 school year, as well as the Teacher of the Year nominees from each school in the parish.
All teachers honored at this year’s ceremony include:
LPPS Elementary Teacher of the Year nominees: Gabby Mire, Albany Lower Elementary; Karen Faust, Albany Upper Elementary; Kris Kleinpeter, Denham Springs Elementary; Taffy Sexton, Doyle Elementary; Judy Carr, Eastside Elementary; Jessica Boudreaux, French Settlement Elementary; Jeanette Milne, Freshwater Elementary; Amanda Naquin, Frost; Dana Fontenot, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Haley Mercante, Holden; Kelli Lowery, Juban Parc Elementary; Shay McDaniel, Levi Milton Elementary; Tara Schwartz, Lewis Vincent Elementary; Dane’ Long, Live Oak Elementary; Kristi Lemoine, North Corbin Elementary; Allison Richardson, North Live Oak Elementary; Kelly Chevalier, Northside Elementary; Kayla Wales, Seventh Ward Elementary; Laurie Petty, South Fork Elementary; Meghan Flores, South Live Oak Elementary; Leah Richard, South Walker Elementary; Donna DePaula, Springfield Elementary; Tamie McCaffery, Southside Elementary; Carissa Peters, Walker Elementary.
LPPS Middle School Teacher of the Year nominees: Irene Farace, Albany Middle; Amanda Brian, Denham Springs Junior High; Natasha McMorris, French Settlement High School; Krystal Hughes, Holden High; Mary Loofbourrow, Juban Parc Junior High; Pamela Myers, Live Oak Junior; Kimberly LeJeune, Live Oak Middle; Barbara McCaskill, North Corbin Junior High; Lisa Deer, Southside Junior High; Kim Kinchen, Springfield Middle; Lauri Rentz, Westside Junior High.
LPPS High School Teachers of the Year nominees: Shellie Woodward, Albany High; Sarah Halphen, Denham Springs High; Jill Johnson, Denham Springs Freshman High; Casey Moskau, Doyle High; Mindy Bailey, Holden High; Jessica Bonura, Live Oak High; Ann Mullis, Maurepas High; Aimee Freeman, Springfield High; Karen Davenport, Walker Freshman High; Brooke Rhymes, Walker High.
DENHAM SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL BAND FEATURES STATE’S FIRST UNITED SOUND® PERFORMANCE
The Denham Springs High School Band participated in the state’s first United Sound® performance during its May 8 spring Wind Ensemble concert, featuring the musical talent of four local students with special needs.
United Sound® is a school-based instrumental music club for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their typical peers. Band Director Andrew Hunter learned about the program in December at conference in Chicago, and returned to the campus with a passion to begin a local chapter.
“We are so proud that Denham Springs High School is the first in Louisiana to create an inclusive musical learning environment through this program,” Hunter said.
Making their debut performance with the high school band were Kassi Rice on the flute, Brandon Smith on the euphonium, Christel Dugas on the trumpet, and Alexis Archer on the marimba. They were assisted in the performance of “Procession of Heroes” by their peer mentors.
The students began their instruction in February, meeting once a week with instructors and the peer mentors to learn how to take instruments out of their cases, make their first sounds, play notes while reading music and playing the piece they performed at the concert.
SHERIFF CONSIDERS REQUESTING SALES TAX TO PUT ARMED OFFICERS ON EVERY CAMPUS
At the request of school officials, Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard says he is considering asking voters to approve a new half-cent sales tax on the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot to fund the placement of school resource officers at each of the district’s 46 campuses.
The school system currently has seven resource officers who are responsible for all campuses parishwide. One officer each from the Denham Springs and Walker police departments serves the schools within city limits, while the other five are sheriff’s deputies assigned to geographic zones across the parish. The school district pays about half the cost of the officers through agreements with the law enforcement agencies.
Ard says the parish would need at least 50 SROs to meet the current demand, and he estimates the cost for each SRO to be approximately $111,000 annually, which includes wages, benefits, equipment and a mobile unit. Current sales tax estimates suggest a half-cent sales tax could raise between $8 million and $10 million.
YES I CAN WINNERS RECOGNIZED
Livingston Parish Public School administrators, board members and faculty recently recognized the parish’s top winners in the “Yes I Can” competition at the state and national levels for 2017 and 2018.
The “Yes I Can” awards program, which is sponsored by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), recently recognized Livingston Parish students with exceptionalities for their outstanding achievements. The program recognizes accomplishments in six categories: academics, arts, school and community activities, self-advocacy, technology and transition; as well as those education professionals who work with the children and youth.
LIVINGSTON PARISH CHAMBER AWARDS STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS
The Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce recently awarded scholarships to 17 parish seniors during its annual State of Education meeting. Each scholarship, valued at $500, is made possible through contributions from member businesses.
ALBANY-SPRINGFIELD LIBRARY DISPLAYING GIFTED & TALENTED ART
DOYLE ELEMENTARY STUDENTS LEARN ABOUT DOWN SYNDROME
First graders at Doyle Elementary recently celebrated World Down Syndrome Day with a special lesson that illustrated how children with Down syndrome are more alike other children than they might appear.
The most interesting moment of the lesson came when the teacher asked the students if they knew someone with Down syndrome and they all answered “no.” That’s because one of their classmates, Myles White, is a child with Down syndrome.
“What a beautiful demonstration of inclusion,” said Elise White, Myles’ mother and a teacher at Doyle Elementary. “Our family is so thankful Myles attends a school that places value on an inclusive education. We strongly believe when children are educated together every child benefits and learns to accept their peers regardless of differences.”
The lesson included a story about a Down syndrome boy and emphasized how children with Down syndrome can accomplish many of the same things as other children, but maybe with a little help and support to get it done.
At the end of class, the students participated in a demonstration that allowed the students to experience what it might be like for a Down syndrome student learning to write and talk. The students put socks on their writing hands and tried to write a sentence, and then they stuffed marshmallows in their mouth and tried to talk.
FRENCH SETTLEMENT STUDENT FEATURED ON AMERICAN IDOL
Laine Hardy, a 17-year-old senior at French Settlement High School, made his debut appearance on the ABC Network’s American Idol on Monday, March 12, with an audition that won the approval of this year’s celebrity judges – country music superstar Luke Bryan, music icon Lionel Richey and pop star Katy Perry.
Hardy’s solo audition on the show marked the first time he ever performed on his own. He said he started singing a couple of years ago with his brother and cousin, and the trio had only performed in a few local restaurants before Hardy got his break.
Hardy’s gritty country voice is prominently featured by the show. His performances are posted on YouTube and his Facebook page.
LIVINGSTON PARISH SENIOR SCORES A PERFECT 36 ON ACT
French Settlement Senior Brayden Aime has done what most students can only imagine. He scored the maximum score of 36 on the ACT.
The ACT is one of the nation’s top college entrance exams, and the predominant exam given to college-bound students in Louisiana. It includes four mandatory sections – English, math, science and reading – and an optional writing section. Out of the 1.8 million students who take the test every year, only about 1,000 get the highest possible ACT score.
Aime said he earned the 36 on his second attempt. “I felt relieved when I got my score. I knew my family would want me to take again if I hadn’t done that,” he said.
Aime said he plans to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) or Yale University in the fall to pursue a double degree in Computer Science and Mathematics, with a minor in International Relations. Aime has a scholarship to study in in Rome, Italy this summer, and he has lined up a paid internship in Washington D.C. for next summer.
EASTSIDE’S KENNEDY NAMED A TOP-FIVE FINALIST FOR LIFE CHANGER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Eastside Elementary Assistant Principal Lauren Kennedy has been named a grand-prize finalist for the National Life Group’s 2017-2018 Life Changer of the Year award. Kennedy received word of her Top 5 status at a surprise presentation at her school on March 5.
Lured to the school’s gym under the false pretense of a “maintenance issue,” Kennedy opened the gym door to a resounding “Surprise!” from nearly 600 students, teachers, school administrators and family members.
Kennedy was nominated for the prestigious award by a former high school classmate who knew about her efforts to help others after the August 2016 flood.
Kennedy and four other national finalists will be flown to Bermuda in mid-May to attend the awards ceremony, where the top winner will be announced. The winner will receive $10,000, with half of that going to the winner’s school. For being named a grand-prize finalist, Kennedy has already be awarded at least $5,000 to be split between her and Eastside Elementary.
TWO LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS RECOGNIZED FOR INCREASING BREAKFAST PARTICIPATION
French Settlement High School and North Corbin Junior High recently received the state’s highest awards in the “No Kid Hungry” Breakfast Challenge, which is sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Education and Gov. John Bel Edwards. French Settlement High had the largest increase in breakfast participation among schools with grades 9-12, while North Corbin Junior High topped the list among schools in the K-8 category.
Participation in school breakfast is up 46 percent this year across the parish. The school system has been able to offer the food for free through the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) – Livingston Parish qualified due to the large number of families impacted by the devastating 2016 flood. At the same time, the district has made the meals more appealing, by feeding students in their classrooms with a bagged breakfast and offering them a mid-morning break.
The two winning schools celebrate their increase with pep rallies that featured representatives from the New Orleans Saints football team.
SPRINGFIED HIGH THEATRE TO PRESENT BEAUTY & THE BEAST
The Springfield High School Theatre students will perform a live, on-stage production of Walt Disney’s “Beauty & the Beast” April 9-14 at the school.
Daily performances will be held at 9 a.m., noon and 7 p.m., April 9-13. Ticket prices for each session are $5 per person, except admission for the 7 p.m. show on April 11 will be free and will include an inspirational message delivered by Wind Ministries Pastor Terry Lobell.
The students will also present a dinner theater performance on April 14 at 7 p.m., which will feature a full-course meal prepared and served by Johnny Ziegler, owner of Pop’s Blazin’ Smokers. Tickets for that one-night-only event are $25 per person.
The production is based on a French fairy tale about a prince who is magically transformed into a Beast and his servants into household objects as punishment for his arrogance. The Beast imprisons Belle, a beautiful young maiden, in his castle in hopes of breaking the spell. To become a prince again, the Beast must learn to love Belle and earn her love in return before the last petal from an enchanted rose falls, or else the Beast will remain a monster forever.