March 2017

WALKER HIGH SCHOOL TO HOUSE NIKE APPAREL STORE

Walker High School Senior Hannah Hernandez, general manager of Walker’s school-based enterprise, displays a sampling of clothing that will be featured in the school’s new Nike apparel store, Checque Mate.

Walker High School Senior Hannah Hernandez, general manager of Walker’s school-based enterprise, displays a sampling of clothing that will be featured in the school’s new Nike apparel store, ChecqueMATE.

Students and savvy shoppers will soon be able to purchase some of their favorite Nike name-brand apparel on the Walker High School campus, thanks to a partnership that will allow the school to establish its own Nike apparel store, ChecqueMATE.

Walker High Principal Jason St. Pierre said he expects the store to open by the end of March. He noted that students in the school’s DECA program have surveyed students on what clothing items and shoes they most prefer to determine which merchandise they will stock in the on-campus store.

“As part of this agreement, we will have marketing professionals from Nike’s think-tank organization to come to our school to teach our students about visual  merchandising, how to start up a business, how to follow and set trends, and to cash in on the current market,” St. Pierre said.

Nike is providing the merchandise to the high school at approximately 40 percent below its price to commercial retailers, allowing the school’s ChecqueMATE store to sell items at a more affordable price than what is being offered in some large department stores or the Nike Outlet Store. He said the school will sell generic items, with no school logos, as well as items customized with the Walker Wildcat logo.

 

SPRINGFIELD HIGH TO PRESENT “WIZARD OF OZ”

The official poster of this year’s student Production of “The Wizard of Oz” by the Springfield High School Theatre Program, under the production of Drama Teacher Joe Simmons.

The official poster of this year’s student production of “The Wizard of Oz” by the Springfield High School Theatre Program, under the direction of Drama Teacher Joe Simmons.

Students in Springfield High School’s Theatre program will present their rendition of the classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” March 31-April 8. The students will present three shows daily, March 31-April 7, at 9 a.m., noon and 7 p.m.  Admission for each show is $5.  The students will also offer a special dinner theater performance at 7 p.m. on April 8, and admission and admission for that event is $25.  Tickets are on sale now at the school office.

 

 

LITERACY & TECHNOLOGY CENTER HOLDS 4TH ANNUAL COLLEGE AND CAREER DAY

Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Enforcement Agent Garrett Kimble, right, talks to Kaitlyn Barnes and Aidan Higginbotham, both seniors at Albany High School, about the education requirements necessary to apply for a job in his field.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Enforcement Agent Garrett Kimble, right, talks to Kaitlyn Barnes and Aidan Higginbotham, both seniors at Albany High School, about the education requirements necessary to apply for a job in his field.

High school juniors and seniors from throughout the parish met with college representatives, military recruiters, industry and business leaders and several hiring agents during a day-long College and Career Day at the Livingston Parish Literacy & Technology Center.

LPLTC Director Kim Albin said students were introduced to a variety of career options with information on those skills and education needed for the available positions and opportunities.

“This event is always strongly supported by our local businesses and industries, as well as our post-secondary colleges and institutes. Many of our students walk away with valuable information that help them gain better direction for their future,” Albin said, noting this is the fourth year the center has hosted the event.  “Career Day is always a great way for our students to look at the many options that exist in today’s job market.”

 

 

LOCAL STUDENT SELECTED TO SING AT CARNEGIE HALL

Morgan Schroeder

Morgan Schroeder

Walker Freshman High’s Morgan Schroeder recently returned from a trip to New York, where she was invited to sing at Carnegie Hall. She was selected as one of 150 international students to perform six songs in four languages – English, Russian, South African and Latin. Schroeder said the choir rehearsed about 16 hours prior to performing to a full house.

Schroeder is a member of her school choir and church choir. She also plays musical instruments and is in the percussion section of the school band.

 

 

LOCAL STATE FARM AGENCIES DONATE $5,000 TO SCHOOL RECOVERY

Presenting the $5,000 donation to Denham Springs Elementary Principal Gail DeLee, center with check, were State Farm agents, from left, Byron Gill, Joan Landry, Horace Wilkinson and Barbara Smith.  Not pictured are State Farm agents Garris Wilcox and David Brian.)

Presenting the $5,000 donation to Denham Springs Elementary Principal Gail DeLee, center with the check, were State Farm agents, from left, Byron Gill, Joan Landry, Horace Wilkinson and Barbara Smith. Not pictured are State Farm agents Garris Wilcox and David Brian.

Agents with State Farm insurance companies across Livingston Parish and Louisiana joined forces to donate $5,000 to Denham Springs Elementary School, one of the hardest hit schools in the area affected by the Great Flood of 2016.

“The local State Farm agents of the parish saw firsthand the devastation that affected the students, teachers and schools during the flood,” said Horace Wilkinson, whose State Farm Agency is on Florida Boulevard in Denham Springs. “We wanted to assist in the recovery by raising funds not only from all the local agents but from other agents around the state.”

 

February 2017

DENHAM SPRINGS ELEMENTARY TEMPORARY CAMPUS OPENS

The new temporary campus for Denham Springs Elementary opened its doors to students, teachers and staff on February 6, bringing the group back to a single site for the first time since the original campus flooded on August 13. The temporary campus is located next to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Hatchell Lane, and it is the last of three temporary campuses constructed by the district to replace those original school campuses that remain closed due to flood damage.

“Welcoming the school’s students and staff to a site that is all their own has been a priority for the district,” Superintendent Rick Wentzel said. “Despite weather delays and other challenges that slowed our efforts, we managed to roll up our sleeves and open the campus in a timely manner.”

Wentzel said the district is working with flood recovery experts to assess the structural damage of the Denham Springs Elementary campus on Range Avenue. Many of the buildings on that campus are 30 to 40 years old, and their repair and restoration involve many issues.

 

PROJECT GRADUATION SPONSORS 5K COLOR RUN

PG Color Run 2017Parent volunteers for Project Graduation are sponsoring the 2017 Denham Springs 5K Color Run on March 25. The race begins at 8:30 a.m. at Train Station Park, along Railroad Avenue in Denham Springs.  Awards will be presented to the top male and female in each age division, and t-shirts are guaranteed for all early bird registrants.  Participants will enjoy food, music and fun throughout the morning.  All proceeds go to benefit Project Graduation, which offers an alcohol-free, drug-free celebration for graduating seniors at Denham Springs High School.

The deadline for the $25 early bird registration is March 12. Registration fees go up to $30 after that date, and same-day registrants will pay $35.  Registration forms are available at area schools or participants can sign up at www.getmeregistered.com/DenhamSpringsColorRun.  For more information, including vendor sponsorship opportunities, contact race coordinator Bobbi Guerin at
225-337-0041.

 

SCHOOL VOLUNTEERS HONORED

Livingston Parish Schools recently recognized the winners of the A+PEL School Volunteer Awards Program, which honors the many valuable contributions made by Louisiana school volunteers. Monique Smith from South Walker Elementary and Laurie Kieronski from Freshwater Elementary School were named the parish’s winners, and Smith was selected to represent Livingston Parish at the state competition.  She was nominated by South Walker Elementary Principal Belinda Avant. Pictured from left to right are Avant, Smith and Julie Norris, president of the Livingston Parish A+PEL Chapter.

Livingston Parish Schools recently recognized the winners of the A+PEL School Volunteer Awards Program, which honors the many valuable contributions made by Louisiana school volunteers. Monique Smith from South Walker Elementary and Laurie Kieronski from Freshwater Elementary School were named the parish’s winners, and Smith was selected to represent Livingston Parish at the state competition. She was nominated by South Walker Elementary Principal Belinda Avant. Pictured from left to right are Avant, Smith and Julie Norris, president of the Livingston Parish A+PEL Chapter.

 

 

LOCAL LAW FIRM HONORS LIVINGSTON SCHOOLS

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The Gordon McKernan Law Firm recently teamed up with the district to erect a billboard along I-12 near Denham Springs to congratulate Livingston Parish Public Schools for being ranked #3 in the state for academic performance. The Louisiana Department of Education awarded Livingston Schools an “A” grade and a District Performance Score of 109.5, making it one of the state’s highest performing districts overall, and the top-performing district among large public school districts.  Livingston Parish has a public school enrollment of nearly 26,000 students in grades K-12.

 

 

STUDENTS BACK THE BLUE

Livingston Parish School Resource Officer Burley McCarter talks with Lewis Vincent Elementary students Blaine Parsons and Juelz Walters during a special “Back the Blue” Day breakfast at the school.

Livingston Parish School Resource Officer Burley McCarter talks with Lewis Vincent Elementary students Blaine Parsons and Juelz Walters during a special “Back the Blue” Day breakfast at the school.

4H students at Lewis Vincent Elementary School recently hosted a “Back the Blue” Day to honor local law enforcement officers and express their appreciation for the work they do each day. Nearly 20 officers from the City of Denham Springs, Livingston Parish and East Baton Rouge Parish participated in a special breakfast ceremony.  At the same time, the club had food delivered to the Denham Springs fire and police departments and the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s office.

 

SCHOOL BOARD JOINS CLASS ACTION SUIT OVER I-12 BARRIER

The Livingston Parish School Board recently voted to join a class action lawsuit against the state Department of Transportation and Development and Interstate 12 contractors over the role a concrete median barrier wall played in the flood of 2016.

In introducing the matter to the board, Superintendent Rick Wentzel said the concrete barrier, which extends 19 miles from East Baton Rouge Parish into Livingston Parish, acted as a flood wall, retaining water north of I-12.

Joshua Palmintier of DeGravelles Palmintier Law Firm told the board that a team of world renowned hydrologists and knowledgeable attorneys have been put together to offer their expertise and knowledge on the issue. He said the cities of Denham Springs and Walker, the Livingston Parish government and the City of Central have also joined the suit.  The school board will not incur any expenses joining the class action lawsuit.

 

FEMA ANNOUNCES COST OF RECOVERY ASSISTANCE TO SCHOOL SYSTEMS

Louisiana schools have received approximately $60 million in public assistance to recover from last August’s flood, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently announced. According to the report, Livingston Parish has received nearly half the money awarded thus far, because of extensive damage in the parish. FEMA announced the following –

  • $17.5 million to clean and remove flood damage from the following schools:  Denham Springs Elementary, Denham Springs Freshman High, Denham Springs High, Doyle Elementary, Holden School, Springfield Elementary, Denham Springs Junior High, Freshwater Elementary, Northside Elementary, Lewis Vincent Elementary, Live Oak High, Seventh Ward Elementary, Southside Elementary, Southside Junior High, Walker Freshman High and Westside Junior High.
  • $3.3 million for temporary facilities for Denham Springs Elementary, located next to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.
  • $6.6 million for temporary facilities for Southside Elementary, located behind Juban Parc Elementary School; and Southside Junior High, located behind Juban Parc Junior High.
  • $200,000 for temporary chairs, tables and room dividers for schools accommodating displaced students.

School officials note the totals announced by FEMA do not include other construction and material costs that have been paid by the local school system or provided through donations.

 

January 2017

SCHOOL BOARD APPOINTS NEW MEMBER

Steve Stafford, left, administers the oath of office to David “Bo” Graham, as his wife, Betty Graham, holds the family Bible. Graham will serve as interim board member for District 7.

Steve Stafford, left, administers the oath of office to David “Bo” Graham, as his wife, Betty Graham, holds the family Bible. Graham will serve as interim board member for District 7.

The Livingston Parish School Board appointed David “Bo” Graham to serve as the interim representative for District 7, filling the vacancy created by former board member Jimmy Watson’s election as Walker mayor.

Graham received the board’s unanimous approval as Watson’s appointed replacement and was sworn in during a recess at the board’s Jan. 5 meeting. An election will be held Oct. 14 to fill Watson’s unexpired term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2018.

Graham is a retiree from the United States Postal Service. He is a life-long resident of Walker, and a graduate of Walker High School.

 

 

MAUREPAS HONORS BASEBALL STANDOUT KADE SCIVICQUE

Former baseball standout Kade Scivicque is pictured with his family after beign honored at Maurepas High School with the retiring of his jersey number.  Pictured, from the left, are Kade’s parents, Steve Scivicque and Missy Scivicque; Maurepas High School Baseball Coach Anthony Gregoire, Kade Scivicque and his fiancée Airel Berthelot, and brother Chaz Scivicque.

Former baseball standout Kade Scivicque is pictured with his family after beign honored at Maurepas High School with the retiring of his jersey number. Pictured, from the left, are Kade’s parents, Steve Scivicque and Missy Scivicque; Maurepas High School Baseball Coach Anthony Gregoire; Kade Scivicque and his fiancée Airel Berthelot; and brother Chaz Scivicque.

Maurepas High School honored local baseball standout and former LSU Tiger Kade Scivicque by retiring his jersey number, #20, during a doubleheader basketball contest on Jan. 5.

Scivicque earned All-American and All-SEC honors at LSU, and in his senior year, was one of three finalists for the prestigious Johnny Bench Award, which identifies the top college catchers. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft by Detroit, who traded Scivique to the Atlanta Braves’ organization for the 2016 season.

 

 

CHURCH CONSIDERS DONATION AN OPPORTUNITY TO REPAY KINDNESS TO DENHAM SPRINGS ELEMENTARY

The new temporary campus for Denham Springs Elementary will soon open on property on Hatchell Lane thanks to help from the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. The church has donated the use of approximately four acres of its property at no cost to the school system, as a “privilege to return the favor,” according to Father Frank Uter.

He noted that prior to 1964, when the local Catholic Church was a one-room building located on Range Avenue, its young parishioners attended religion classes on the Denham Springs Elementary campus because of a lack of space on church property.

“The school board graciously made their facilities available to our young parishioners and their families. We now have the opportunity and privilege to return the favor and make some of our campus available to them,” he recently wrote in a church bulletin.

Father Uter noted that the presence of the temporary campus has been designed to not intrude upon the church’s Fall Festival grounds more than necessary.  In fact, the church’s annual carnival is slated for Oct. 27-29, 2017.   He said the agreement with the school system has the unanimous support of the Parish Finance Council and the Diocese. The temporary campus for Denham Springs Elementary is expected to open in early February.

 

A MOMENT IN HISTORY

Denham Springs High School chemistry teacher David Kemp’s white board greeted students returning to the campus with a trivia question, “How is Jan. 5, 2017 at DSHS like Warren Harding’s presidential campaign slogan of 1920?” The answer: It’s a “Return to Normalcy.”  Classes started back on the DSHS campus Jan. 5 for the first time since the August flood.

Denham Springs High School chemistry teacher David Kemp’s white board greeted students returning to the campus with a trivia question, “How is Jan. 5, 2017 at DSHS like Warren Harding’s presidential campaign slogan of 1920?” The answer: It’s a “Return to Normalcy.” Classes started back on the DSHS campus Jan. 5 for the first time since the August flood.

 

 

WASTE MANAGEMENT GIFTS $200,000 TO FLOOD VICTIMS

2017-01 Waste Management LogoWaste Management has donated $200,000 to Livingston Parish to aid flood victims in their recovery efforts. Residents who were heavily impacted by the flood are asked to fill out an application to be eligible for a cash grant valued up to $2,000 per applicant.  Decisions will be based on specific needs laid out in the application which is available online at www.lpsb.org, or at www.livingstonparishla.gov. For more information, send an email to livingstonrises@hotmail.com.

 

 

December 2016

 

TIMELINE ANNOUNCED FOR RESTORED CAMPUSES, CONSTRUCTION OF TEMPORARY CAMPUSES

ucSuperintendent Rick Wentzel announced that all students displaced from their home schools because of flood damage will be back on their original campuses or in new temporary campuses by the end of January 2017.

Students at Denham Springs High School and Denham Springs Freshman High will be back on their original campuses on Jan. 5 – the first day of the school year’s second semester.  Students at Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High will also transfer to their new temporary campuses on Jan. 5.  Those temporary campus are located on property behind Juban Parc Elementary and Juban Parc Junior High, respectively.

Students at Denham Springs Elementary will be relocated to a temporary campus adjacent to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Hatchell Lane in Denham Springs.  That campus is expected to be ready to welcome students by Jan. 30.  Its delayed opening has been caused by FEMA code issues and a mandated review of the site by FEMA’s Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation program, which determines if undeveloped property contains significant evidence of historic Native American activity.

“We finally have clearance to move forward on establishing the temporary campus for Denham Springs Elementary, but unfortunately, red tape has delayed our efforts by nearly three to four weeks,” Wentzel said.  “Assuming that weather does not further hamper our progress, we feel certain we can have the students, teachers and staff of Denham Springs Elementary relocated by the end of January.”

Wentzel noted that students and employees for Denham Springs Elementary will resume their present configurations at Eastside Elementary, Northside Elementary and Freshwater Elementary on Jan. 5 and remain on those campuses until the new temporary campus is completed by end of the month.

 

DISPLACED STUDENTS TO BE WELCOMED WITH CLEAN, FURNISHED CAMPUSES

Covered decks will connect all the buildings at the new temporary campuses for Southside Elementary, Southside Junior High and Denham Springs Elementary, keeping students safe and dry as they move throughout the campus.  Pictured is the completed deck of the new Southside Elementary that runs between two classroom buildings.)

Covered decks will connect all the buildings at the new temporary campuses for Southside Elementary, Southside Junior High and Denham Springs Elementary, keeping students safe and dry as they move throughout the campus. Pictured is the completed deck of the new Southside Elementary that runs between two classroom buildings.)

Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy said the temporary campuses for Denham Springs Elementary, Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High will each consist of 40 classrooms, a library, cafeteria, administrative building, special education building and multi-purpose building.

“There are 68 sections that occupy nine buildings, and all of those buildings are connected by a series of covered decks.  All three campuses are designed for a capacity of 500 students,” Murphy said, noting that the cost of establishing the three temporary campuses is more than $11 million.

Students at Denham Springs High School and Denham Springs Freshman High will return to their original campuses on Jan. 5.  The campuses will be cleaned and furnished, but the walls will not be repainted until later.

Students at Denham Springs High School and Denham Springs Freshman High will return to their original campuses on Jan. 5. The campuses will be cleaned and furnished, but the walls will not be repainted until later.

He said another $5 million to $6 million is being spent to restore the Denham Springs High School and Denham Springs Freshman High campuses.  Those campuses will receive a final cleaning in the coming weeks, and furniture and technology systems will be delivered and installed.  However, because of time constraints, the painting of the classrooms will not be completed before the students return.

“Our students will return to clean classrooms and facilities, but many of the walls and structures at the high school and freshman high will have the visible signs of new construction and repairs, since we will not be able to repaint before they move back in,” Murphy said.  “Our principals will work with the contractors to find appropriate times to get painters into the school without disturbing class instruction, but that’s likely to take some time.”

 

LIFE SKILLS APARTMENT OPENS ON SPRINGFIELD MIDDLE CAMPUS

Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Life Skills Apartment-East, from left to right:  (front) Superintendent Rick Wentzel, Jeannie Ebey, Ph.D., project manager; Anna Broussard, community-based facilitator; Jim Wilson, maintenance director; and Mildred Caldwell, Life Skills Apartment manager; (back) Eric Penalber, Ph.D., Special Education Department director; Dwayne Dykes, Springfield Middle School principal; and Rev. Richard Sandberg, Springfield First Baptist Church pastor.

Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Life Skills Apartment-East, from left to
right: (front) Superintendent Rick Wentzel, Jeannie Ebey, Ph.D., project manager; Anna Broussard, community-based facilitator; Jim Wilson, maintenance director; and Mildred Caldwell, Life Skills Apartment manager;
(back) Eric Penalber, Ph.D., Special Education Department director; Dwayne Dykes, Springfield Middle School principal; and Rev. Richard Sandberg, Springfield First Baptist Church pastor.

Livingston Parish Public Schools recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Life Skills Apartment-East, located on the campus of Springfield Middle School, which will allow the district to double its capacity to serve students with significant disabilities in the parish.

The new facility, which is a simulated home environment equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, den and pull-down bed, better enables instructors to teach students how to perform daily activities in hopes of enabling them to live a safer, more independent lifestyle in their own homes or in a group home setting.

This is the district’s second Life Skills Apartment.  The other facility is located on the campus of Denham Springs High School.  It serviced all the parish’s high-school aged students with significant disabilities prior to the campus being closed due to flood damage.  When both facilities are open on Jan. 5, the parish’s two facilities will serve approximately 130 students in grades 6-12.

“With the addition of the Life Skills Apartment-East, we can offer better service to our east-side students, and we can double our capacity parishwide,” said Eric Penalber, director of the Special Education Department.  “Before now, we could only serve our high-schoolers, but now with this new facility, we can extend this training to our middle school students.”

 

EXXONMOBIL GIVES DONATION TO SOUTHSIDE JUNIOR HIGH

ExxonMobil recently gave Southside Junior High a $10,000 contribution to help with flood recovery efforts. Pictured from left to right are (front row) Southside Junior High Student of the Year nominees Savannah Bishop, Elle Denton, Kahner Boyer, Luke Turner and Hailey Pahnks, (second row) teachers Leanne Payne and Julie Vanzandt, ExxonMobil employee Rory Denicola, Southside Junior High Principal West Partin and Superintendent Rick Wentzel.

ExxonMobil recently gave Southside Junior High a $10,000 contribution to help with flood recovery efforts. Pictured from left to right are (front row) Southside Junior High Student of the Year nominees Savannah Bishop, Elle Denton, Kahner Boyer, Luke Turner and Hailey Pahnks, (second row) teachers Leanne Payne and Julie Vanzandt, ExxonMobil employee Rory Denicola, Southside Junior High Principal Wes Partin and Superintendent Rick Wentzel.

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH 4-H STUDENTS TRAVEL TO WISCONSIN TO ATTEND THE NATIONAL 4-H DAIRY CONFERENCE.

While at the conference, they had the opportunity to tour the Hoard’s Dairyman dairy farm, the National Dairy Shrine Museum, NASCO International, Babcock Dairy Processing Plant, Crave Bros. Farms and the World Dairy Expo, as well as attend dairy-related seminars and leadership workshops. Attending the World Dairy Expo are, from left to right, Megan Mincey of Denham Springs High School; Jenny Windham of West Baton Rouge Parish; a Foremost Farms representative, and Westin Cobb and Luke Sequin of Denham Springs High School.

Three Livingston Parish 4-H members traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, in October to attend the National 4-H Dairy Conference. While at the conference, they had the opportunity to tour the Hoard’s Dairyman dairy farm, the National Dairy Shrine Museum, NASCO International, Babcock Dairy Processing Plant, Crave Bro. Farms and the World Dairy Expo, as well as attend dairy related seminars and leadership workshops. Attending the World Dairy Expo were, from left, Megan Mincey, of Denham Springs High School; Jenny Windham, West Baton Rouge Parish; a Foremost Farms representative, Westin Cobb and Luke Sequin, of Denham Springs High School.

 

 

November 2016

LIVINGSTON PARISH INCREASES NUMBER OF “A” SCHOOLS TO 28,
IMPROVES TO NO. 3 IN THE STATE

copy-of-rank-a-logo

The number of “A” schools in Livingston Parish increased to 28 in 2016 – up from 16 the year before – and the district improved its ranking to No. 3 in the state; a direct reflection of the district’s overall academic excellence and growth in every measurable category that is tracked by the Louisiana Department of Education.

The state department’s latest report shows Livingston Parish Schools received a 2016 District Performance Score of 109.5 to once again earn an overall “A” rating and earn the No. 3 ranking in the state.  Livingston Parish is the largest district in the state’s top-performing districts with an enrollment of nearly 26,000. Overall, the state report showed the district improved 7 points from 102.5 points to 109.5 points to maintain and strengthen its “A” rating.  Sixteen districts in the state earned “A” ratings for receiving District Performance Scores above 100 points.

At the same time, the report showed that 28 parish schools in Livingston Parish received an “A” – more than two-thirds of the schools in the district – while 13 earned a “B”.  The average growth for all schools in Livingston Parish is 5.9 points, or as much as 6.32 points if progress points are factored in the equation. Visit louisianabelieves.com  to see the complete ranking of school districts across the state and the school performance scores for all Livingston Parish schools.

 

GROWTH INDICATORS SHOW LIVINGSTON PARISH GAINED IN EVERY AREA OF ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

personalgrowthThe state department’s latest report shows Livingston Parish Schools received a 2016 District Performance Score of 109.5 to once again earn an overall “A” rating and be counted among the state’s top performing public school districts. The report also showed that Livingston Parish Schools showed significant growth in K-8 assessments, as well as End of Course exams, ACT scores, and graduation rates for high schoolers.

The district’s highest gains in a performance indicator came in ACT scores – a 21 percent improvement in 2016 scores as compared to 2015. The district’s score for success on the ACT, a college preparatory exam, and the ACT Workkeys, a job skills assessment, jumped from 83.5 point to 101.3 points, for a 21 percent gain.

At the same time, the district grew its graduation rate from 79.6 percent to 84 percent, and improved it access to college and career performance indicator by 7 percent. The district also showed an overall 6 percent increase in both its K-8 Assessment index and End of Course exams.

“We are excited about these scores because they show our students improving in every category and at every level, from K to 12. Some of our schools showed double-digit gains,” Supervisor of Instruction Tracy McRae said.  Those schools that grew by double digits include Albany High School, up 14.9 points; Frost School, up 14.1 points; Springfield High School, up 13.2 points; Springfield Elementary School, up 10.8 points; Juban Parc Elementary, up 10.7 points; Denham Springs High School, up 10.4 points; and Denham Springs Junior High, up 10 points.

 

SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES CHANGES TO SPRING 2017 ACADEMIC SCHEDULE

PrintThe Livingston Parish School Board approved recommended changes to the Spring 2017 school calendar that include replacement time for the district’s academic schedule. The new calendar now requires students to attend a full day of class instruction on the following days that were previously scheduled as half-days for students or as planning/work days for only teachers and principals:

 

 

  • Jan. 5 (previously a work day for only teachers and principals)
  • Feb. 16 (previously a half day for students)
  • March 16 (previously a half day for students)
  • May 24 (previously a work day for only teachers and principals)

This new schedule results in students returning to class in the New Year one day early and extending class by one day at the end of the school year.

At the same time, the school system will add 21 minutes of instructional time to its master schedules. This time will be added 10 minutes in the morning and 11 minutes in the afternoon and will begin on Jan. 5 and continue through May 24.

 

WALKER HIGH SCHOOL CADETS VOLUNTEER TO CLEAN FIGHTER JET AT I-12 SATSUMA EXIT

2016-11 Walker JROTC Cleans Phantom

Some of the Walker High School JROTC cadets and instructors who are volunteering to clean the F-4 Phantom fight jet on display at the I-12 Satsuma exit, pictured left to right, include: Gunnery Sgt. Andre Silvester, Raymond Dozier, Gage Tullier, Chase Langlois, Nathaniel King, Angel Catalanatto, Jonathan King, Via Wilson, James Catalanatto, Brandon Ashton, Caitlin Crowell, Dylan Darnielle, and Major Alan LeCompte.

Walker High School’s Marine Corps JROTC cadets have volunteered to clean and maintain the appearance of the F-4 Phantom fighter jet that is on display at the I-12 Satsuma exit. The large McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is on loan from the U.S. Department of Defense to the Town of Livingston for public display on property donated by local developer, businessman and retired Naval Captain Garry Lewis.  Lewis flew the Phantom jet during his 26 years in the military.

Walker High’s Senior Marine Instructor Maj. Alan LeCompte said the cadets will clean the jet approximately once a month during after-school hours.

 

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS CONTINUE TO RECEIVE FLOOD-RELIEF DONATIONS

WebVarious charitable organizations, businesses and individuals continue to respond the parish’s need in the aftermath of the devastating floods that damaged thousands of homes, businesses and lives in August. The school system suffered millions of dollars in damage, as well, and several schools are still closed and under repair.  Anyone wishing to make a donation to Livingston Parish Schools can contact Mr. John Foster at 225-400-7566 or donate online at friends@lpsb.org. Numerous donations have been received, and not all can be publicly acknowledged; however, the following is a list of organizations and people whose generosity is greatly appreciated and deserves our humble thanks and gratitude:

  • $80,000 from St. Tammany Parish Schools, including $30,000 in supplies, $42,000 in cash donations and $8,500 in gift cards
  • $65,000 worth of sportswear and jackets from Trinity Promotions
  • $50,000 cash donation from Taylor Swift Foundation
  • $35,000 in athletic gear from Schutt Sports
  • $25,000 from Rotary International
  • $25,000 worth of mattresses from Baton Rouge Mattress
  • $15,000 cash donation from Assess the Need, plus thousands of dollars in supplies
  • $15,000 cash donation from Tito Vodka
  • $10,000 supply credit from School Specialty,with special thanks to Account Manager Gina Guarino
  • $10,000 worth of supplies from the community of St. Louis, Mo., and the cast and crew of “Thread Up” for publicizing our local need
  • $10,000 worth of uniforms from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation
  • $10,000 worth or art supplies from Baton Rouge resident and professional art director Cullen Boudreaux
  • $3,000 supply of shoes from Heart and Soul

October 2016

TWO FLOODED SCHOOLS TO REOPEN JAN. 6, THREE TO RELOCATE

Graphic provided by The Advocate Newspaper, published Oct. 21, 2016.

Graphic provided by The Advocate Newspaper, published Oct. 21, 2016.

Students from Denham Springs High School and Denham Springs Freshman High will return to their home campuses for the start of the second semester, on Jan. 6, 2017, while students from three other schools will relocate to temporary campuses at that time.

The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church will make available nearly four acres of its property on Hatchell Lane to house the temporary campus for Denham Springs Elementary. The church has agreed to enter into a zero-dollar lease with the school system for use of the land.

At the same time, a temporary campus for Southside Elementary will be constructed on school property next to Juban Parc Elementary, and a temporary campus for Southside Junior High will be located on school property next to Juban Parc Junior High.

School officials continue to work with FEMA to determine what action can be taken with the three campuses that remain damaged; however, that determination may not be made for another six to nine months, according to Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy.

 

HOLDEN GYM NAMED IN HONOR OF ALTON LEGGETTE

Holden High School’s 1963 boys state championship basketball team, from left to right: (front row) Wayne Stewart, Nelson Hinson, Sherman Mack, Van Osborne, (middle row) Clinton Mitchell, Thomas “T.L.” Hodges, Coach Alton Leggette, Mike Higginbotham, Ronald Sykes, (back row) Corley Trawick, Charles Allen, Edward “Ed” Green, Richard Harrison and Emerson Causey.

Holden High School’s 1963 boys state championship basketball team, from left to right: (front row) Wayne Stewart, Nelson Hinson, Sherman Mack, Van Osborne, (middle row) Clinton Mitchell, Thomas “T.L.” Hodges, Coach Alton Leggette, Mike Higginbotham, Ronald Sykes, (back row) Corley Trawick, Charles Allen, Edward “Ed” Green, Richard Harrison and Emerson Causey.

The Livingston Parish School Board unanimously voted to name the old Holden school gym the Alton Leggette Memorial Junior High Gym.

Leggette was a former school board member and hall of fame boys’ basketball coach, best known for coaching the 1963 Holden team that won the Class C state title. He started his career as the girls’ coach at Maurepas, but went on to become the boys’ coach in Holden and finished his career as head coach at Denham Springs in the mid-1970s with a career record of 498-155. In 1990, he was selected as Louisiana’s Mr. Basketball by the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches.

 

 

WALKER PARTNERS WITH NORTH OAKS FOR SPORTS MEDICINE FACILITY

Livingston Parish School officials and members of the North Oaks Health System recently participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for Walker High School’s new sports medicine facility. Pictured from left to right are: (front row) Alexis Amato, North Oaks’ Athletic Trainer for Walker High School; Nathan Borget, North Oak’s Head Athletic Trainer; Mac Barrient, North Oaks Rehab Services Director; Staci Polozola, Livingston Parish’s Career & Technical Education Supervisor; Jason St. Pierre, Walker High School Principal; Rick Wentzel, Livingston Parish School Superintendent; and (back row) Stephen Parrill, Livingston Parish School Assistant Superintendent.

Livingston Parish School officials and members of the North Oaks Health System recently participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for Walker High School’s new sports medicine facility. Pictured from left to right are: (front row) Alexis Amato, North Oaks’ Athletic Trainer for Walker High School; Nathan Borget, North Oak’s Head Athletic Trainer; Mac Barrient, North Oaks Rehab Services Director; Staci Polozola, Livingston Parish’s Career & Technical Education Supervisor; Jason St. Pierre, Walker High School Principal; Rick Wentzel, Livingston Parish School Superintendent; and (back row) Stephen Parrill, Livingston Parish School Assistant Superintendent.

Walker High School recently opened a new sports medicine facility in partnership with North Oaks Sports Medicine.  The new facility is located in Walker High School’s newly constructed athletic field house and weight room facility, and it serves as a classroom laboratory and treatment center for the school’s athletic programs.

“We are proud to partner with North Oaks to keep our student-athletes healthy and to train our students in the exciting and growing field of sports medicine,” Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre said. He noted that the partnership gives students hands-on training opportunities, including access to visit and conduct clinical training at the North Oaks facilities in Satsuma and Hammond.  He also said the program will benefit the school’s Certified Nursing Assistant curriculum.

 

EMERIL LAGASSE FOUNDATION DONATES NEW UNIFORMS TO STUDENTS

Brian Kish, president of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, prepares to toss a bag of new uniforms to Southside Elementary student Karoline Norris, after giving uniforms to classmate Gavin Davis. Looking on, from left to right, are Southside Elementary classmate Mandeville students Chase Erickson and Katherine Treuting, and KINDD Founder Karen Treuting.

Brian Kish, president of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, prepares to toss a bag of new uniforms to Southside Elementary student Karoline Norris, after giving uniforms to classmate Gavin Davis. Looking on, from left to right, are Mandeville students Chase Erickson and Catherine Treuting, and KINDD Founder Karen Treuting.

The Emeril Lagasse Foundation recently donated new school uniforms to nearly 350 students at Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High in Denham Springs who were severely impacted by the flooding.

Brian Kish, president of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation said his organization donated $10,000 to Kids in Need During Disasters (KINDD), a fund that supports children affected by natural, manmade and environmental disasters, in order to purchase two uniforms for each of the 350 students identified as affected by the flood.  Each student received two pairs of short, two shirts and a sweatshirt in his or her correct size.

 

 

SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS HONORED FOR ROLE IN SUCCESSFUL DROPOUT PREVENTION PROGRAM

Supervisor of Child Welfare and Attendance Edward Foster and Principal of Pine Ridge Alternative School Tony Terry were recently honored at the International Association for Truancy and Dropout Prevention (IATDP) Conference for their participation in a cooperative dropout prevention program that has significantly increased the graduation rate in Livingston Parish.

The 21st Judicial District Court’s Juvenile Drug Court and Dropout Prevention Program received the IATDP’s “Program of the Year” award.  The program operates under the judicial supervision of Judge Blair Edwards of the 21st JDC and includes members of  Livingston Parish Public Schools, the District Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Public Defender, TASC/FINS and Juvenile Drug Court, the Office of Juvenile Justice and the local office of the Department of Children and Family Services.

 

 

September 2016

CLASS TIME ADDED TO 2016 ACADEMIC CALENDAR

calendarThe Livingston Parish School Board recently approved a revised academic calendar to add class time to the 2016 Fall calendar in the aftermath of historic flooding throughout the parish.  Along with the regularly scheduled classes that resumed on Sept. 12, instruction time was added by changing the following days into full class days:

  • Thursday, Sept. 15 (originally a ½ day for teacher professional development)
  • Friday, Oct. 7 (originally a Fair Day holiday; the Livingston Parish Fair has been cancelled)
  • Thursday, Oct. 20 (originally a Teacher/Parent Conference Day)
  • Wednesday, Nov. 16 (originally a ½ day for teacher professional development)

 

NEARLY ALL STUDENTS RETURN TO DISTRICT POST-FLOOD

More than 95 percent of all students enrolled in Livingston Parish schools for the 2016-2017 school year have returned to school since classes restarted after the flood.   “We have been working very hard to have all our students accounted for and back in a classroom,” Superintendent Rick Wentzel said.  He noted that most students are back with their original schools.  Also, Wentzel said some of the students who have not returned to class in the parish have contacted the school system and expressed an intention to return once they are able to return to their homes.  “We are pleased with the numbers and we will continue to work with our displaced families to get every student back before the end of the year,” he said.

 

SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL SET TO OPEN BY OCTOBER 3

0c25af745f8f18af733b2d7c007f7477Superintendent Rick Wentzel has announced that teachers, staff and students of Springfield High School will be able to return to the campus on Oct. 3.  All the school buildings have been cleaned and restored to working order, he said.  “We are very appreciative of the patience and cooperation displayed by everyone in the Springfield community, and we share in their excitement to see the campus reopen,” Wentzel said.  He especially thanked the community of Springfield Middle School for platooning with the high school.  Wentzel noted that the transportation and class schedules for both Springfield High School and Springfield Middle School will resume their normal times as before the flooding.

 

SCHOOL OFFICIALS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS TEAM UP TO COLLECT DONATIONS FOR STUDENTS

With thousands of homes flooded and families displaced, some of the greatest needs throughout the parish have been restoring school supplies, uniforms and shoes to students so they can return to the classroom equipped and ready to resume learning. School leaders quickly established a means to request and receive donations so supplies and clothing could be dispersed to students as soon as possible.  Juban Parc Junior High Principal Jeff Frizell, Literacy & Technology Center Director Kim Albin and Supervisor Ed Foster teamed up to collect, sort and distribute school supplies that were donated.  Curriculum Director Deborah Kropog managed a team of volunteers who collected and correctly sized uniforms and shoes.  They anticipate collecting and distributing nearly 10,000 uniforms by the end of the month.  Albany Middle School Teacher Joni Smith also used her position as the newly named Louisiana Teacher of the Year to reach out to organizations across the state and nationwide to give a variety donations.

New school uniforms

Thousands of uniforms are being distributed throughout the parish to students impacted by the devastating floods. Deborah Kropog said her team has taken advantage of donations and close-out sales to lessen the cost. Pictured from left to right are: Debbie Kropog, Linda Berthelot Ashley Aime, and Tammy Kuhn.

At the same time, Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor quickly responded to the school system’s call for help by reactivating the Assess the Need campaign.  Local radio, television and news organizations ran ads asking for assistance for Livingston Parish students.  One reply to that call for help came from three former LSU golfers who are on the PGA tour – David Toms, Andrew Loupe and Smylie Kaufman.  They recently presented Taylor with a $50,000 check to Assess the Need to help with flood relief for local students.

PGA golfers Andrew Loupe, Smylie Kaufman and David Toms recently presented a $50,000 check to Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor to benefit Assess the Need’s flood relief effort.  A PGA film crew documented the golfers’ recent visit to Denham Springs, and a video feature on the flooding and local recovery efforts is expected to air in the coming month.

PGA golfers Andrew Loupe, Smylie Kaufman and David Toms recently presented a $50,000 check to Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor to benefit Assess the Need’s flood relief effort. A PGA film crew documented the golfers’ recent visit to Denham Springs, and a video feature on the flooding and local recovery efforts is expected to air in the coming month.

 

Some other notable donations include:

  • a $50,000 donation to the school system from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation;
  • an in-kind donation of football equipment, helmets and shoes for the Denham Springs High School football team from the NFL and New Orleans Saints;
  • an in-kind donation of football equipment, helmets and shoes for the Southside Junior High School team from various parents and contributors, most notably Benjamin Watson, Charles Tillman, Dave Roberts and Schutt and Greg Barnett;
  • a $5,000 in-kind donation of instruments and an electric public address system for the Denham Springs Junior High Band from the Baton Rouge Guitar Center;
  • an in-kind donation of 600 pairs of shoes for faculty and students of Live Oak High School and Denham Springs High School from Varsity Sports;
  •  an in-kind donation of shoes from Fleet Feet and the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class.

 

MINI-PARADE BRIGHTENS SPIRITS

2016-09 Gray's Creek Elem Post-Flood Parade

The staff and faculty of Gray’s Creek Elementary School took their message of hope and welcome for their students to the street – literally! Led by Marshal Jerry Denton, Principal Melissa Dougherty and her team traveled throughout flood-stricken neighborhoods the week prior to restarting school, tossing out toys, candy and other goodies to their students.  They dubbed the mini-parade their “Swamp Tour” in honor of the school’s gator mascot.

 

TEACHERS DISPLAY COLORS OF UNITY

To help welcome the teachers, staff and students of Denham Springs Elementary to their temporary home at Eastside Elementary, the teachers wore purple and gold – Denham Springs Elementary’s school colors – as a sign of support and unity. The Denham Springs Elementary campus is still closed due to flood damage, so students from grades Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd are attending class at Eastside Elementary.

Caroline Swan, Bonnie Birch, Aileen Eckler, Judy Carr, Paula Meadors, Heather White, Robbin Lewis, Veronica Rushing, Leslie Dyess, Keeny Olinde, Lauren Kennedy and Christa Pierce.

Pictured from left to right: Caroline Swan, Bonnie Birch, Aileen Eckler, Judy Carr, Paula Meadors, Heather White, Robbin Lewis, Veronica Rushing, Leslie Dyess, Keeny Olinde, Lauren Kennedy and Christa Pierce.

 

July 2016

ALBANY TEACHER NAMED LOUISIANA’S TEACHER OF THE YEAR

Joni Smith, Louisiana Teacher of the Year

Joni Smith, Louisiana Teacher of the Year

The Louisiana Department of Education recently announced that Livingston Parish teacher Joni Smith is the overall 2017 Teacher of the Year.  Smith, who is a 7th- grade science teacher at Albany Middle School, was selected as the state’s top teacher from among 24 elementary, middle and high school teachers from across the state who advanced to the state department’s final-round of competition for the award.  The announcement was made at the 10th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium, which was presented by Dream Teachers, on July 15 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge.  The state department noted that Smith’s students rank first in Livingston Parish and fourth in the state for test scores in life sciences.  As part of Smith’s award, she was presented with a one-year lease on a new Mercedes, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz of Baton Rouge.

“We are overjoyed with Ms. Smith’s selection as the top overall teacher in Louisiana. She is a dedicated educator who not only works hard to ensure all her students learn and understand the material taught in her class, but she also encourages her students to become community leaders and to actively engage in serving those in need,” Superintendent Rick Wentzel said. “Ms. Smith is most deserving of this recognition, and she is a prime example of why Livingston Parish Public Schools continues to provide its students with a quality education.”

 

DISTRICT OPENS SUMA PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CENTER

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School administrators and elected officials participating in the ribbon cutting, pictured left to right, were: (front row): School Administrators Bruce Chaffin, Sharon Anderson, Joe Murphy, and Tammy Kuhn; School Board Member Karen Wax-Schmitt; and Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks; (2nd row) School Print Shop Manager Jason LaBorde; School Administrator Steve Parrill; School Board Members Malcom Sibley, Buddy Mincey, Jr., and Jimmy Watson, and Superintendent Rick Wentzel. Also pictured are the Livingston Parish elementary school principals who held their first meeting in the new professional development center on July 19.

Livingston Parish school officials and community leaders officially opened its new Suma Professional Development Center July 19 with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The new center is located at Suma Lakes, near the I-12/Satsuma exit, providing the district with centralized meeting space for large groups. The 4,000-square-foot space is equipped with presentation technology and wireless connectivity, and it allows approximately 150 people to meet around tables for discussion.

“Before accessing this center, our district lacked a space large enough to house large groups, causing us to lease multiple off-site spaces for many of our professional development sessions. Now, we can host our sessions in our own facility,” Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy said.  He praised central office staff member Tammy Kuhn for taking the initiative to locate the facility, and he thanked Jason LaBorde and his print shop employees and Robert Logan and the IT staff for their efforts to make the professional development center ready for occupation.

 

 PARRILL NAMED ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT

Stephen Parrill, Assistant Superintendent

Stephen Parrill, Assistant Superintendent

Stephen Parrill, a supervisor of instruction with the Livingston Parish public school system, will serve as the district’s newest assistant superintendent. He fills the vacancy created by Rick Wentzel’s move to superintendent.

Parrill brings to the job more than 24 years of experience in education, the majority of which have been in Livingston Parish. He has served as a supervisor of instruction in the district since October 2007, after serving three months as a substitute in that position. Before moving to the central office, Parrill served as principal from 2001-2007 of Springfield Middle School, where he first served as a teacher, beginning in 1995, then served as assistant principal from 1999-2001.

 

SADD CAMPERS LEARN ABOUT SAFETY

The local Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) organization held its first summer camp for grade 1-12 at Gray’s Creek Elementary School.  Elementary-aged students participated as campers, junior high students worked as assistants and volunteers, and high schoolers served as camp instructors.  The camp presented a variety of safety and prevention workshops.  Pictured are camp instructors Baylee Waldrop, who prepares a seatbelt safety lesson, and Tori Bowler, who is teaches a group of 1st graders about medicine safety.

The local Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) organization held its first summer camp for grade 1-12 at Gray’s Creek Elementary School. Elementary-aged students participated as campers, junior high students worked as assistants and volunteers, and high schoolers served as camp instructors. The camp presented a variety of safety and prevention workshops. Pictured are camp instructors Baylee Waldrop, who prepares a seatbelt safety lesson, and Tori Bowler, who is teaches a group of 1st graders about medicine safety.

 

 

ASSESS THE NEED CAMPAIGN UNDERWAY

Action 17 Web ad 2016Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor and a team of volunteers are making plans to provide school supplies for nearly 3,000 needy children in Livingston Parish Public Schools for the start of the new school year. Taylor is the sponsor of ASSESS the NEED, a parish-wide school supply drive that collects donations for school supplies each year to give students the tools they need to be successful in the classroom.  This year will be the 16th year that Taylor has sponsored the program. To date, the program has collected upwards of $600,000 to $700,000 in donations.  Taylor projects this year’s campaign will need to raise $50,000 to meet the anticipated need in all schools across the parish.

Taylor said volunteers will take donations for this year’s drive from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on July 30-31 at the three Wal-Mart stores in Livingston Parish – located in Denham Springs, Walker and Watson. He said volunteers will accept monetary and in-kind donations. Donations also can also be mailed to P. O. Box 1802, Denham Springs, Louisiana, 70727, given on-line at www.AssesstheNeed.com, or dropped off at the Livingston Parish Assessor’s office during regular work hours, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Supplies will be collected, organized and distributed to each school in the parish before the start of classes on August 4, allowing teachers and counselors at each campus to distribute the supplies on the first day.

 

 

June 2016

Wentzel on brick

Superintendent Rick Wentzel

LONG-TIME PARISH EDUCATOR RICK WENTZEL NAMED SUPERINTENDENT Rick Wentzel, assistant superintendent of school operations, will take over the district’s top position on July 1, replacing current Superintendent John Watson.  The Livingston Parish School Board unanimously approved the search committee’s recommendation at its June 16 meeting.  Watson announced his retirement earlier this year, saying he wanted to allow the board the option to select his replacement before the start of the new school year. Wentzel has spent 22 of his 30 years in education with the Livingston Parish Public School System. Prior to serving as assistant superintendent, he worked as the human resources supervisor and principal at Springfield High, North Corbin Junior High and Walker Junior High. He also has experience as an assistant principal at Southside Junior High, and as a teacher and coach at Live Oak and Denham Springs high schools.

 

ALBANY MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER NAMED STATE FINALIST

Superintendent John Watson recognizes State Middle School Teacher of the Year Finalist Joni Smith at a district ceremony honoring the parish’s top teachers and principals.)

Superintendent John Watson recognizes State Middle School Teacher of the Year Finalist Joni Smith at a district ceremony honoring the parish’s top teachers and principals.

Joni Smith’s passion for her students at Albany Middle School and her keen ability to connect what is taught in the classroom with everyday life experiences has made her one of the state’s top candidates for Louisiana’s Middle School Teacher of the Year. Smith is one only eight middle school teachers in the state who are in the finals of the annual state competition to be recognized on July 15.  Smith is a local prodigy who graduated from Live Oak High School and received her certification and bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2007.  She taught science at Westside Junior High in Walker for nearly seven years before moving to Albany Middle School in 2014.  

 

TEACHERS PARTICIPATE IN MATH WORKSHOPS

Southeastern Louisiana University Instructor Stacy Jemison instructs a room full of elementary math teachers at the Wholly Ground Coffee House in Walker as part of a four-day math methods workshop sponsored by the district.

Southeastern Louisiana University Instructor Stacy Jemison instructs a room full of elementary math teachers at the Wholly Ground Coffee House in Walker as part of a four-day math methods workshop sponsored by the district.

More than 80 elementary teachers and 30 middle school teachers from Livingston Parish Public Schools participated in math methods workshops earlier this month. Southeastern Louisiana University instructors Stacy Jemison and Dr. Daniel Acosta, Ph.D., led the seminars, which focused on conceptual teaching, instruction and assessment methods and techniques for math curricula.  The seminars were filled to capacity with more than 20 teachers on a waiting list to get in! The elementary workshop covered four days, while the middle school workshop went for six days.

 

WALKER HIGH SCHOOL BREAKS GROUND ON NEW FACILITIES

Livingston Parish school officials and community leaders participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking for Walker High School.  Pictured from left to right are:  Lynn Palmer Sibley; Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor; Former WHS Principal Margaret Peak; Superintendent John Watson; School Board Member Jimmy Watson; WHS Principal Jason St. Pierre; School Board Member Jeff Cox; Former School Board Member Wayne Sibley; Parish Councilman Jeff Ard; Parish Councilman Tracy Girlinghouse; Architect Jim Ziler; and Contractor M. Dwight Descant, III.

Livingston Parish school officials and community leaders participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking for Walker High School. Pictured from left to right are: Lynn Palmer Sibley; Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor; Former WHS Principal Margaret Peak; Superintendent John Watson; School Board Member Jimmy Watson; WHS Principal Jason St. Pierre; School Board Member Jeff Cox; Former School Board Member Wayne Sibley; Parish Councilman Jeff Ard; Parish Councilman Tracy Girlinghouse; Architect Jim Ziler; and Contractor M. Dwight Descant, III.

Livingston Parish school officials and community leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony on June 27 at Walker High School to launch the construction of the largest components of a $25 million capital improvement plan approved by voters in the Walker School District in 2014. The new construction projects include a main, two-story building with 32 classrooms, a spacious library, teacher work room and administrative offices that will face Florida Boulevard, creating a new front entrance to the high school campus. Also included are a new cafeteria with indoor and outdoor seating for 600-800 students; a new band room for 200 students, with practice and rehearsal rooms and storage for instruments; a new vocational-technical education building for agriculture, carpentry and welding classes; and a new air-conditioned gymnasium that seats 2,000 people.  The projects are expected to be completed around the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

 

DENHAM SPRINGS GRAD RECEIVES $500 SCHOLARSHIP

Susan Lynch, a 2016 graduate of Denham Springs High School, recently received a $500 scholarship award from Pelican State Credit Union.  Lynch was the Livingston Parish Students Against Destructive Decisions Student of the Year.  She plans to study journalism at LSU this fall. v

Susan Lynch, a 2016 graduate of Denham Springs High School, recently received a $500 scholarship award from Pelican State Credit Union. Lynch was the Livingston Parish Students Against Destructive Decisions Student of the Year. She plans to study journalism at LSU this fall.

May 2016

SUPERINTENDENT JOHN WATSON ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

Superintendent John Watson

Livingston Parish School Superintendent John Watson recently announced he will retire at the end of June, bringing an end to more than 33 years of working in the district. Watson said he will retire six months before his contract’s end to allow the school board an opportunity to find his replacement before the 2016-17 school year begins.  Watson has served as superintendent of the Livingston Parish Public School district since 2012.  Prior to that time, he worked as an assistant superintendent, administrator, principal, teacher and coach.

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS HONOR YEAR’S TOP PRINCIPALS

Livingston Parish Principals of the Year – The Livingston Parish Principal of the Year winners were honored at a special May 5 ceremony.  Superintendent John Watson presented plaques to the winners, pictured left to right:  Elementary School Principal of the Year Stacey Milton, Seventh Ward Elementary; Middle School Principal of the Year Jeff Frizell, Juban Parc Junior High; and High School Principal of the Year Kelly Jones, Denham Springs High School.  Frizell was also named a semi-finalist for the Louisiana Middle School Principal of the Year.

The Livingston Parish Principal of the Year winners were honored at a special May 5 ceremony. Superintendent John Watson presented plaques to the winners, pictured left to right: Elementary School Principal of the Year Stacey Milton, Seventh Ward Elementary; Middle School Principal of the Year Jeff Frizell, Juban Parc Junior High; and High School Principal of the Year Kelly Jones, Denham Springs High School. Frizell was also named a semi-finalist for the Louisiana Middle School Principal of the Year.

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS HONOR YEAR’S TOP TEACHERS

Livingston Parish Teachers of the Year – The Livingston Parish Teacher of the Year winners were honored at a special May 5 ceremony.  Pictured with Superintendent John Watson, from left to right are:  High School Teacher of the Year Rosalind Dalberg, Live Oak High School; Middle School Teacher of the Year Joni Smith, Albany Middle School; and Elementary School Teacher of the Year Michele Link, Albany Lower Elementary.  Smith was also a state semi-finalist for the Louisiana Middle School Teacher of the Year Award.

The Livingston Parish Teacher of the Year winners were honored at a special May 5 ceremony. Pictured with Superintendent John Watson, from left to right are: High School Teacher of the Year Rosalind Dalberg, Live Oak High School; Middle School Teacher of the Year Joni Smith, Albany Middle School; and Elementary School Teacher of the Year Michele Link, Albany Lower Elementary. Smith was also a state semi-finalist for the Louisiana Middle School Teacher of the Year Award.

 

Those Livingston Parish teachers who were given the Teacher of the Year award at their respective schools are as follows:

2016 LPPS High School Teacher of the Year winners — Karen Drinnon, Walker Freshman High; Cortney Haser, Albany High; Bradley Watts, Doyle High; Rosalind Dalberg, Live Oak High; Kelly Becnel, Walker High; Dana Ray, Holden High; and William Bradford, Denham Springs High. Not pictured is Cade LeJeune, Springfield High.

 

LPPS Middle School Teacher of the Year winners --  Joni Smith, Albany Middle; Melissa Varnado, Holden High; Susan Scardina, Juban Parc Junior; Tonya Costa, Live Oak Middle; Nicole King, North Corbin Junior; Velvet Crow, Southside Junior; Lisa Hoover, Springfield Middle; and Cynthia Beall, Westside Junior High.

2016 LPPS Middle School Teacher of the Year winners — Nicole King, North Corbin Junior High; Susan Scardina, Juban Parc Junior High; Velvet Crow, Southside Junior High; Joni Smith, Albany Middle; Melissa Varnado, Holden Junior High; and Lisa Hoover, Springfield Middle. Not pictured are Tonya Costa, Live Oak Middle; and Cynthia Beall, Westside Junior High.

 

LPPS Elementary Teacher of the Year winners --  Michele Link, Albany Lower Elementary; Kim Ishee, Albany Upper Elementary; Debbie Kish, Denham Springs Elementary; Lisa Arledge, Doyle Elementary; Michelle Jones, Eastside Elementary; Bette Jo Sibley, French Settlement Elementary; Carrie Button, Freshwater Elementary; Hannah Gates, Frost; Rebecca Waguespack, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Shawn Wascom, Holden; Theresa Callicott, Juban Parc  Elementary; Rebekah Nickel, Levi Milton Elementary; Leslie Ellis, Lewis Vincent Elementary; Erin Nettles, Live Oak Elementary; Sunny Anderson, Maurepas; Thomas “Art” Clement, North Corbin Elementary; Michelle Patrick, North Live Oak Elementary; Tasha Pruitt, Northside Elementary; Amy Millet, Seventh Ward Elementary; Amanda Lavigne, South Fork  Elementary; Minnie Spinosa, South Live Oak Elementary;      Britney Gillich, South Walker Elementary; Yolanda McGee, Springfield Elementary; Sarah Watson, Southside Elementary; and Rachel Baio, Walker  Elementary.

2016 LPPS Elementary Teacher of the Year winners — (front row) Amanda Lavigne, South Fork Elementary; Bette Jo Sibley, French Settlement Elementary; Rebecca Waguespack, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Michelle Jones, Eastside Elementary; Hannah Gates, Frost Elementary; Kim Ishee, Albany Upper Elementary; Michele Link, Albany Lower Elementary; (back row) Rachel Baio, Walker Elementary; Theresa Callicott, Juban Parc Elementary; Thomas “Art” Clement, North Corbin Elementary; Carrie Button, Freshwater Elementary; Erin Nettles, Live Oak Elementary; Yolanda McGee, Springfield Elementary; Debbie Kish, Denham Springs Elementary; Rebekah Nickel, Levi Milton Elementary; Britney Gillich, South Walker Elementary; Leslie Ellis, Lewis Vincent Elementary; Minnie Spinosa, South Live Oak Elementary; Sarah Watson, Southside Elementary; and Amy Millet, Seventh Ward Elementary. Not pictured are Tasha Pruitt, Northside Elementary; Sunny Anderson, Maurepas Elementary; and Shawn Wascom, Holden Elementary.

 

STUDENTS PERFORM “TOP 40” MUSICAL

The Gray’s Creek Elementary 4th and 5th graders recently performed the musical “TOP 40” for a packed audience of students and parents.  The musical included dancing, acting, soloists, costumes, props, comedy and a 200-member voice choir.  Many musical hits from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s were highlighted, including impersonation performances of Elvis, The Beatles and Sonny & Cher.

The Gray’s Creek Elementary 4th and 5th graders recently performed the musical “TOP 40” for a packed audience of students and parents. The musical included dancing, acting, soloists, costumes, props, comedy and a 200-member voice choir. Many musical hits from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s were highlighted, including impersonation performances of Elvis, The Beatles and Sonny & Cher.

 

JUBAN PARC JUNIOR HIGH BAND EARNS AWARD

band-clipart-jazz-clip-art1The Juban Parc Junior High School 8th Grade Band earned a sweepstakes award at both the District and State Music Performance Assessment Festivals this spring.  The award is the highest honor offered at these festivals.  This is the first year the band participated at the state-level competition.  Band Director Abby South said she plans to have next year’s group compete at both festivals as well.  She said they will have an opportunity to get a “jump start” on sharpening their skills this summer during a music camp at the school.

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH NEWS PUBLISHER DONATES ITEMS

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Juban Parc Junior High School Band Director Abby South thanks Livingston Parish News Publisher Nancy David for donating a piano to the school. She said the donation will allow students to practice piano at the school, enable teachers to offer piano lessons at the school, and help to prepare piano students for their annual solo and ensemble festival competitions. She noted that the school plans to have a piano accompanist for its band at festival competition this next school year, which was not possible before without a piano at the school.

School leaders recently extended their sincere appreciation to Livingston Parish News Publisher Nancy David for donating several items to area schools in memory of her husband, Jeff David.  The donated items included an upright Kimball piano and weight equipment, which were given to Juban Parc Junior High, and a running treadmill and lat pull machine, given to Denham Springs Freshman High School.  All the equipment has been delivered and installed on the campuses.