November 2017

PARISH ANNOUNCES TOP TEACHERS OF THE YEAR

The Livingston Parish Public School System recently announced its top teachers of the year. Superintendent Rick Wentzel, Director of Curriculum Dawn Rush, Title 1 Coordinator Tammy Kuhn and Title 2 Coordinator Debbie Kropog made the rounds to visit the winning teachers, presenting each with a trio of gifts in front of their students.

Livingston Parish Elementary Teacher of the Year Dane’ Long is pictured with her second graders at Live Oak Elementary

Dané Long, a second grade teacher at Live Oak Elementary, is the parish’s Elementary Teacher of Year. She is a 16-year veteran educator who says her strongest skill is to teach students to read.  Long spent her first 12 years as a first grade teacher, and the last four as a second grade teacher – all at Live Oak Elementary.

Livingston Parish Middle School Teacher Kimberly Lejeune, pictured back middle, was recognized by Superintendent Rick Wentzel, back left; Live Oak Middle Principal Ryan Hodges, back right; and some of her students.

Kimberly Lejeune, an English/language arts and science teacher at Live Oak Middle, is the parish’s Middle School Teacher of the Year. She has 18 years of experience in the classroom, where she emphasizes hands-on learning and finds ways to spark curiosity with her students.  She is in her first year teaching ELA and science at Live Oak Middle.  She began her career at North Live Oak Elementary.

Livingston Parish High School Teacher of the Year Jessica Bonura is recognized with some of her Live Oak High School students and the paraprofessionals who work with them.

 

Jessica Bonura, a significant disabilities/autism (SDA) teacher at Live Oak High School, is the parish’s High School Teacher of the Year. Bonura began her career as an SDA teacher 12 years ago, and has been on a mission to change the “negative stigma” surrounding her students and other like them. Her work stems from a personal experience of having a son born with Downs Syndrome.

Each school in the parish submitted a nomination for Teacher of the Years honors.  Each nomination included a portfolio detailing the career of the nominee.  A selection committee reviewed the applicants and narrowed the selection down to two finalists for each of the grade levels – elementary, middle and high school.  Those two finalists in each category were brought in for face-to-face interviews where they were asked questions on an array of topics, including what they believe to be the biggest struggles in education today and how they would explain the Louisiana school system to someone from another state.

The three winners are required to submit videos of themselves in their classroom setting as part of the state competitions at the regional and state levels.

 

LIVE OAK AND WALKER HIGH SCHOOLS RECEIVE NMSI GRANTS

Live Oak High School and Walker High School recently announced they have received grants from the National Math & Science Initiative (NMSI) to improve student achievement through expanded access to challenging coursework. In particular, the grants help to fund teacher development and student participation and achievement in the Advanced Placement (AP) program.

Both NMSI grants are for a three-year period. Live Oak High School received $714,909, and Walker High School received $482,902.  Through this partnership, the two high schools hope to dramatically increase the number of students taking and earning qualifying scores on AP math, science, computer science, and English exams.

Research has shown that students involved in AP math, science and English classes with the NMSI partnership have a dramatic increase in qualifying scores on exams. Research also shows that students with AP scores of 2 or higher have a significantly higher college GPA over students who have not taken AP courses. This is one of the leading indicators of success in college.

The grant pays 50 percent of exam fees for AP Math, Science, English and Computer Science classes. Students receive $100 for every 3, 4, or 5 earned in these classes. The grant is providing training for teachers during the summer and throughout the school year through the College Readiness Program. It also provides money for these teachers to use in their classrooms.

Live Oak High has students enrolled in 645 AP exams for the 2017-2018 school year. Walker High School offers 12 AP courses and has 178 students scheduled to take 229 AP exams this school year.

Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre, pictured front left, and the school’s Advanced Placement students recently accepted a check from the National Math & Science Initiative to expand access to challenging coursework and improve student achievement. Also pictured are NMSI’s Taylor Bunn, standing next to St. Pierre, and Chad Spurgeon, standing right of the check.

 

STUDENTS GET HANDS-ON INSTRUCTION IN DIGITAL MEDIA

Well before the first bell of the school day rings at French Settlement High School or Maurepas School, one can find a small group of students already at work. Some students have laptops in hand, punching out final edits to their written stories, while others are adjusting audio levels on mics or setting up lighting equipment in bright green production rooms.

The busy mornings are routine for the digital media classes at these two schools as they do the necessary prep work to broadcast a live daily newscast at each of their schools – “Good Morning, French Settlement!” and “Good Morning, Maurepas!” respectively.

Teacher Janet Blankenship works with the students to develop news stories, and to edit copy and piece together bits of recorded video to fill up the newscasts. She began teaching a digital media class at Springfield High, and has now expanded her efforts to Maurepas and French Settlement this year.

School Board Member Jim Richardson helped to spearhead the initiative. He invested some of the district’s funds into the equipment and to pay Blankenship’s salary.  She shares time between French Settlement and Springfield and oversees the efforts at Maurepas from afar, where two of the school’s teachers help to coordinate broadcasts there.  Springfield High does not produce a live daily broadcast.

The daily broadcast episodes at French Settlement High and Maurepas School feature student interviews about current events or personal topics, weather reports, state and national news updates, sports news and updates on the school’s lunch menu and activities calendar.

Walker High School also offers its students a digital media elective. Currently about 55 students are enrolled in the class on that campus, which teaches them to use video editing equipment, operate broadcast video equipment and produce live broadcasts.

In the control room, producing “Good Morning, French Settlement!,” clockwise from the left, Brittany Bonin, Faith Farris, Chase McCreary, Brayden Aime, Dawson Marlow, teacher Janet Blankenship and Charles Samson. Photo courtesy of The Advocate

 

 

MAUREPAS SCHOOL SET FOR 13TH ANNUAL FRENCH CAFÉ

Students and faculty at Maurepas School will host their 13th Annual French Café on Dec. 7 from 5-8 p.m. to raise funds to buy Christmas presents and food for children of less fortunate families in the community.

Café patrons will be able enjoy food, entertainment and activities. The evening will include a Silent Auction, where people can bid on artistic pieces and crafts; the “Raffle for a Basket,” where people can purchase raffle tickets to win a huge basket full of goodies; Santa’s Little Workshop; a Cake Walk; an Ornament for a Donation; and a Christmas program.

Last year’s event raised more than $8,900, which provided presents to more than 100 children and also provided students with school supplies, uniforms and even graduation fees. The event raised just over $5,000 the year before.

 

LIVE OAK JUNIOR HIGH COMPETES MATH COMPETITION AT LSMSA

Live Oak Junior High was one of 12 schools that recently competed in the 17th annual mathematics competition sponsored by the Department of Math and Computer Science at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts on Nov. 16.

The other schools were Natchitoches Magnet School, Caddo Middle Magnet School, Rapides Academy, St. John Berchman’s Cathedral School, D’Arbonne Woods Charter School, Rusheon Middle School, St. Jude School, NSU Middle Lab School, Cope Middle School, Sterlington Middle School, and Grace Christian School.

The contest consisted of individual and team competitions. The exercises in each contest came from algebra, geometry and other areas of mathematics, and not from any specific curriculum. The questions were designed to challenge students to draw from their knowledge of mathematics, to think, to synthesize concepts and to solve problems.

Members of the Live Oak Junior High math team work on a problem during the team competition at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts in Natchitoches.

 

 

 

 

 

October 2017

VOTERS RENEW FUNDING FOR SCHOOL OPERATIONS

Livingston Parish voters overwhelming approved an Oct. 14 proposition with more than 76 percent approval to renew a 10-year, 7.18 mill property tax to continue funding operational costs of all schools in the parish.

The dedicated funding has been on the books since 1979 and makes up one of the district’s largest revenue sources for day-to-day operations. The 7.18 mills are projected to generate more than $3.5 million of the school system’s annual budget.

The monies pay for the salaries and worker benefits of essential staff and employees, including school secretaries, bus drivers, custodians and paraprofessionals. These funds also pay for instructional supplies and equipment for classrooms, administrative supply needs, classroom furniture, day-to-day cleaning supplies and general maintenance needs.

Voters approved the millage renewal by a vote of 7,360 to 2,306 for an approval rate of 76.14 percent.

 

 

STATE ACCOUNTABILITY SCORES WON’T BE ISSUED TO LIVINGSTON PARISH BECAUSE OF FLOOD

When the State Department of Education releases its accountability scores this fall for the 2016-2017 school year, Livingston Parish Public Schools will not receive scores or grades because of the amount of days students missed due to the August 2016 flood.

The state accountability system includes a provision that automatically exempts districts from the consequences of school accountability measures if they are closed for 18 consecutive days or more due to a natural disaster or unforeseen occurrence. All Livingston Parish Public Schools were closed for 20 consecutive days following the August 2016 flood.

The state’s accountability scores for elementary and middle schools are based almost solely on LEAP standardized tests, which are given each spring in the third through the eighth grades. Scores for high schools derive equally from four factors: scores on ACT college placement tests, state-developed End-Of-Course exams, four-year graduation rates and a graduation index where schools get the most points for students who take advanced coursework.

Livingston Parish is the only public school district that missed 18 days or more due to the August 2016 flood. East Baton Rouge Parish, which was closed 16 days after the flood, has requested a waiver to exempt some of its schools for this year’s accountability report.

 

 

FOURTEEN LIVINGSTON PARISH STUDENTS SELECTED TO ALL-STATE BAND

Fourteen Livingston Parish band students in grades 9-12 from Albany, Denham Springs and Walker high schools were chosen as members of the 2017-2018 All-State Band.

Those band members selected include: Albany High School’s Katie Miranda, junior, bassoon; Denham Springs High School’s Savannah Cecchini, freshman, flute; Victoria Seeger, junior, clarinet; Bobby Chedville, senior, trumpet; Katie Howard, sophomore, horn; Colby Eisenberg, junior, tuba; and Morgan Lovell, senior, bass clarinet; and Walker High School’s Ethan Archer, senior, clarinet; Peyton Berry, sophomore, clarinet; Kaylee Hibbard, sophomore, trumpet; Aaron Tapalla, freshman, trombone; Logan Yarbrough, junior, euphonium; Christian Noto, junior, tuba; and Brian Harley, senior, percussion.

In order to make the cut, the students had to win the judges’ approval at two highly competitive auditions – one at LSU on Sept. 16, and a second at Pineville High School on Oct. 14. Participants were tasked with performing two prepared pieces and a sight reading piece.

 

 

LOCAL STUDENTS COMPETE AT LIVINGSTON PARISH FAIR SPELLING BEE

The top three finishers of the 34th Annual Livingston Parish Fair Spelling Bee were, left to right, John Austin Bergeron of North Corbin Junior High, 1st place; Chloe Poissot of North Corbin Junior High, 2nd place; and Jake White of Holden, 3rd place.

Ten seventh graders from Livingston Parish took the stage inside the Green Barn on Oct. 9 at the 34th Annual Livingston Parish Fair Spelling Bee to compete for the title of the parish’s top speller.

The event was sponsored by The Livingston Parish News, with publisher and editor McHugh David calling out the words for the students to spell.

North Corbin Junior High’s John Austin Bergeron correctly spelled the words “observatory” and “nursery” to win the contest, edging out his schoolmate Chloe Poissot, also of North Corbin Junior High, and Jake White of Holden, who finished second and third, respectively. Other competitors included Nicholas Parfait and Sydney Henderson of French Settlement; Amira Raddler and Camryn Stewart of Doyle; Chloe Picou and Arlene Herrera of Albany Middle; and Ella Stephens of Holden.

Bergeron was awarded $100, a personal trophy and an additional trophy for his school. Poissot was awarded $75 and a trophy for coming in second place, and White received $50 and a trophy for coming in third.

 

 

ENROLLMENT CONTINUES TO REBOUND FROM AUGUST 2016 FLOOD

Superintendent Rick Wentzel announced that Livingston Parish Schools reported an official enrollment of 24,485 for the 2017-2018 year based on the district’s Oct. 1 count. That number is up drastically from the Oct. 1 count of 2016 when so many students were out due to the flood.  The number is only about 500 less than what the district had at the start of last school year.

“We’ve got kids still returning to our system. Some families are returning slowly, and the recovery process is still ongoing, but they are coming back.  With that said, we also have new kids coming to our parish with the continued residential growth that’s happening in our parish,” Wentzel said.

The State Department of Education designates the beginning of October and February as official enrollment days. Those numbers are used to calculate the vast majority of the funding provided to public schools through the state’s Minimum Foundation Program.

 

 

DENHAM SPRINGS HIGH SENIOR NAMED SADD STUDENT OF THE YEAR

Andrea Idong, pictured second from the left, has been named the 2017 SADD Student of the Year. In that role, Idong will promote SADD’s mission at the local, parish, and state level. Throughout the school year she will facilitate teen workshops, and design health and safety campaigns for campuses across the parish. She will serve on the organization’s board of directors, and be a voice for the teenagers involved. Pictured with Idong, left to right, are Denham Springs High SADD Teacher Sponsors Elise LeBlanc and Shanna White, and Louisiana SADD Director Dylan Ivy.

 

September 2017

VOTERS ASKED TO RENEW DEDICATED FUNDING FOR SCHOOL OPERATIONS ON OCT. 14

The Livingston Parish School Board is asking voters to renew a 10-year, 7.18 mill property tax that is dedicated to operational costs for every school in the parish.

The proposition on the Oct. 14 election ballot is not a new tax, and it will not increase the amount of taxes currently being paid each year by parish property owners.

“This renewal proposition is for the continuation of a dedicated funding source that has been in effect in Livingston Parish since 1979,” Superintendent Rick Wentzel said. “The monies generated by this millage make up one of the district’s largest revenue sources and is critical to our day-to-day operations.”

Wentzel noted that the 7.18 mills are projected to generate more than $3.5 million of the school system’s annual budget.  These dedicated monies pay for the salaries and worker benefits of essential staff and employees, including school secretaries, bus drivers, custodians and paraprofessionals.  These funds also pay for instructional supplies and equipment for classrooms, administrative supply needs, classroom furniture, day-to-day cleaning supplies and general maintenance needs.

Election Day is Oct. 14.  Early voting is available Sept. 30 to Oct. 7.

 

LIVE OAK SENIOR NAMED NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP SEMIFINALIST

Ethan Brooks, Live Oak High School

Ethan Brooks, a senior at Live Oak High School, has been named a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist.

The National Merit Scholarship Program recognizes and honors academically talented students across the United States, and it is one of the most prestigious scholarships offered.

To enter the competition, a student must take the PSAT test during his or her junior year of high school.  From the 1.6 million students who meet entry requirement, approximately 15,000 are selected as finalists.  All winners of Merit Scholarship awards are chosen from the finalist group based on their abilities, skills and accomplishments.

As a semifinalist, Brooks has the opportunity to continue in the competition and vie for one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarships that will be offered next spring.

Brooks has a cumulative GPA of 4.3 on a 4.0 weighted scale.  He scored a 34 on the ACT.

He is a senior class officer, a member of the school’s BETA Club, Robotics Club, SHARE Club, Future Business Leaders of America, KEY Club, Art Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  He also served as a school Ambassador, was on the committee to design the school’s Academic Letterman Jacket, and is a member of the Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society.

 

JUBAN PARC ELEMENTARY STUDENTS BENEFITTING FROM FLEXIBLE CLASSROOM

Juban Parc Elementary Teacher Sarah McCrary discusses a class project with fourth-graders, from left, Mackenzie Landry, Christian Ferguson, and Kaia Juban, who are seated on the classroom’s futon.

Students at Juban Parc Elementary School are learning from a new perspective this school year – and like the cliché says, it comes from where they are sitting.  Or better yet, how they are sitting.

Several of their classrooms have been redesigned to incorporate more flexibility in their daily routine.  Seating options include bouncy balls, wobbly stools, floor cushions and a futon.

Students are allowed to choose the type of seating and area in the classroom that’s most comfortable for them.  In some cases, the options help students manage their restlessness, other options are just more comfortable than the traditional desks with hard-backed chairs and they make it easier for them to collaborate with their classmates.

“We are changing our classroom culture to give our students the space and room they need to move about and collaborate with others.  The options are helping our students focus better on what we’re trying to do in our classes, and that’s boosting learning,” Juban Parc Elementary Principal Shanna Steed said.

Studies suggest that children who participate in short bouts of physical activity within the classroom have more on-task behavior, with the best improvement seen in students who are least on-task initially.

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS HELP HURRICANE HARVEY VICTIMS

Southside Junior High Principal Wes Partin drove a bus filled with supplies to Humble, Texas, to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Photo courtesy of Livingston Parish News.

Several schools across the parish recently collected donations for flood victims in the Houston area, after devastation was caused by Hurricane Harvey.  The donations helped to purchase cleaning supplies, gift cards and housing goods.

“Our schools just wanted to give back,” Southside Junior High Principal Wes Partin said. “We can remember when the flood took place, how many people affected our lives.”

Partin, along with Juban Parc Junior High Assistant Principal Justin Wax and Denham Springs Junior High Principal Bryan Wax, filled a rental truck with more than $10,000 in relief aid and drove to Humble, Texas.

He said nearly 6,000 people came out to receive items.  After handing out the supplies, Partin said he and the other Livingston Parish administrators helped to tear out damaged material from homes.

 

 

ASSESS THE NEED PROGRAM PROVIDES SCHOOL SUPPLIES FOR 17TH YEAR

Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor, local businesses, and area volunteers once again sponsored the Assess the Need program in Livingston Parish to provide school supplies for more than 2,600 students.  This was the 17th year the annual campaign has helped needy families receive school supplies for their students.

Most supplies were purchased in bulk and given to school principals and counselors to hand out to students on the campus during the first week of school.

A “Chef’s Night Out” event at Suma Hill Conference Center benefitting Assess the Need will be held Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m.  All proceeds from the event will go to help with supply needs in Livingston Parish Public Schools. Call the Livingston Parish Assessor’s Office at 225-686-7278 for information on how to purchase tickets.

 

VFW MEMBERS PRESENT NEW FLAG TO ELEMENTARY STUDENTS

The VFW Memorial Post 7017 recently donated a new American flag and a solar powered light to Lewis Vincent Elementary in honor of veterans in Denham Springs.

Post Commander Robert Nolan and members Vance Sutton and Tommy Shaffett made a special presentation to the school.  They talked to a second-grade class about the importance and symbolism of the flag, as well as the significance of remembering the nation’s war veterans.

August 2017

LIVINGSTON PARISH RANKS IN STATE’S TOP 10 FOR STUDENTS EARNING AP CREDITS FOR COLLEGE

Livingston Parish Public Schools is among the state’s Top 10 highest performing school districts for student performance on the 2017 Advanced Placement (AP®) exams, according to the latest data released by the Louisiana Department of Education.

More than 38 percent of all students in Livingston Parish who took college-level AP® exams at the end of the 2016-2017 school year earned a score of 3 or better on the exam. Students who earn a score of 3, 4, or 5 are eligible for college credit at all Louisiana higher education institutions.  The district’s passage rate of 38.6 percent is up from last year’s 36.9 percent passage rate.  The average passage rate statewide for the 2017 exams is 34 percent.

Livingston Parish schools had 1,056 students take AP® exams this past year, giving it the greatest level of participation among other top-ranking school districts.

Supervisor of Instruction Tracy McRae said the district saw an increase in participation and performance at nearly every parish high school. Live Oak High School led the effort with 475 students taking AP® exams last year, and more than 55.4 percent of them earned a score of 3 or better.  Walker High School had a 53.2 percent passage rate from the 156 students who took AP® exams at that school.

 

FULLY REFURBISHED CAMPUS OPENS AS NEW LIVE OAK JUNIOR HIGH

Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill pushes a moving dolly loaded with a new office desk past the window-laden wall of Live Oak Junior High’s newly expanded cafeteria and the newly sodded outdoor commons area.

Seventh and eighth grade students in the Live Oak community were welcomed to a new, but somewhat familiar, campus on their first day of school. They became the first students to attend the new Live Oak Junior High at 35086 Old Highway 16 – the site that for many years was the original Live Oak High School.

The campus became dormant 2 ½ years ago when the new Live Oak High School campus opened on Highway 16, and all Live Oak students in grades 9-12 were transferred to the new site.

“While we were forced to prioritize our efforts elsewhere in the aftermath of the August 2016 flood, we never abandoned this project. We have worked diligently to get back on schedule to refurbish this campus so we can bring much-needed relief to the overcrowding situation in our Live Oak schools,” Superintendent Rick Wentzel said.  “Much thanks and credit goes out to School Board Member Kellee Dickerson, Principal Daniel Desselle and his staff for putting in long hours this summer to get the campus ready to open on Aug. 9.”

Wentzel noted that the main campus of the new Live Oak Junior High did not flood in August 2016, so all improvement to the campus were part of the original plans. Changes include a new brick façade and archways, wrought iron fencing and beautified common spaces. The school also has an expanded cafeteria and band room, new library, updated classrooms with better lighting, air conditioning, and greater capacity for wireless access, as well as clean, well-lit hallways and fully-retrofitted gymnasiums that can function as community shelters in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.

 

OPENING OF NEW JUNIOR HIGH CHANGES CONFIGURATION OF OTHER LIVE OAK SCHOOLS

The opening of Live Oak Junior High created some grade restructuring at the other campuses in the Watson school district. Live Oak students going into 5th grade this school year joined 6th grade students at Live Oak Middle School, while the three elementary campuses – Live Oak Elementary, North Live Oak Elementary and South Live Oak Elementary – are only housing students in grades Pre-K to 4th grade.

“This reconfiguration allows us to relieve overcrowding at all our lower class grades in the area,” Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill said. “By creating more educational space and improving classroom size, we can further enhance the learning environments at these schools.”

 

NEW COMMUNITY COLLEGE COMING TO LIVINGSTON PARISH

Pictured from left to right are Louisiana Community & Technical College System President Monty Sullivan, Northshore Technical Community College Chancellor William S. Wainwright, State Rep. J. Rogers Pope, and Gov. John Bel Edwards.

A new 20,000-square-foot building that will be the Northshore Technical Community College Advanced Technology Center is coming to Livingston Parish.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and local legislators made the announcement on Aug. 9. They noted that the new campus will support existing high school duel enrollment programs, customize training programs supportive of business and industry, and transfer programs in partnership with Southeastern Louisiana University.

The new campus will be built next to the existing Literacy and Technology Center on Highway 190 in Walker on land donated by the Livingston Parish School Board.

“We know that the demand for well-trained and skilled workers will expand as business opportunities in Livingston Parish expand, which is why this new facility is going to be integral to the future economic development of this area,” Gov. Edwards said.

 

 

LIONS CLUB GIVES GRANTS IN EXCESS OF $20K TO LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS

The Lions Club International Foundation recently presented Livingston Parish Public Schools with $7,799 to purchase magnifying technology to assist students with visual impairments in the district, and $13,825 for portable laptop computers for students at Southside Junior High. Pictured, left to right, are (front) Livingston Parish Public Schools Speech Language Pathologist and Assistive Technologist Jessica Gill, Lions International District 8-N Grant Administrator Bill Heyerdale, Southside Junior High Principal Wes Partin, Lions’ Nancey Farr and Judy Dudley, (back row) Lions’ Scott Dudley, Livingston Parish Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Steve Parrill, Lions International District 8-N Governor Melvin Abbott, and Lions’ Helen Lemoine, and Ivan Duhe.

 

 

LOCAL TEACHERS PARTICIPATE IN APEL CONFERENCE

Livingston Parish teachers joined other educators from across the state at the Annual Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (APEL) Leadership Training Conference held in Baton Rouge. Teachers focused on professional development, teacher advocacy, organizational skills, and strategies for improving classroom instruction. Pictured left to right are APEL Staff Member Jeanie Achord, Livingston Parish APEL Chapter Office Mary Carlin, Livingston Parish APEL Chapter President Julie Norris, 2016-17 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year and Albany Middle School Teacher Joni Smith, and APEL CEO Keith Courville.

 

SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES FLOOD INSURANCE FOR ALL DISTRICT BUILDINGS

The Livingston Parish School Board recently approved a plan to purchase flood insurance for all buildings in the school system, including those required to have coverage by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and those not required by FEMA to have it.  The district’s total annual premium for all buildings is $925,127.  This amount is more than $150,000 less than what was originally quoted to the school board because a preferred rate was made available by the insurance provider for some of the zones in the district.

 

OCTOBER BALLOT TO INCLUDE FUNDING RENEWAL REQUEST

The Livingston Parish School Board is asking voters to renew a 10-year, 7.18 mill property tax that is dedicated to operational costs for every school in the parish.

The millage renewal is not a new tax, and it will not increase the amount of taxes currently being paid each year by parish property owners.  Parish voters have supported this dedicated funding source since 1979 to pay for salaries of essential staff and employees, instructional supplies and equipment for classrooms, administrative supplies and expenses, as well as day-to-day cleaning and maintenance needs.

The election will be held on Oct. 14.  Early voting is Sept. 30 to Oct. 7.

 

 

 

July 2017

PERMANENT REPAIRS TO THREE FLOOD-DAMAGED SCHOOLS TO BE COMPLETED THIS SUMMER

Freshwater Elementary Principal Julie Dugas, left, and LPSB Facilities Manager John Varnado, right, speak about classroom renovations on Monday July 10, 2017, at Freshwater Elementary in Denham Springs.

Permanent repairs to three campuses damaged by the August 2016 floods will be completed before the start of school on Aug. 9. Those campuses include Freshwater Elementary and Northside Elementary in Denham Springs, and Springfield High School.

Five other campuses – Denham Springs High School, Denham Springs Freshman High, Denham Springs Junior High, Lewis Vincent Elementary and Seventh Ward Elementary, all in Denham Springs – have received much restoration work this summer, but those campuses will not be completely restored to their pre-flood status until the summer of 2018.

“The time schedules for the full restoration of our schools is largely dependent upon our access to funding for those repairs,” Superintendent Rick Wentzel said. “The three campuses that will be fully restored by the end of this summer are not located in a flood zone, so we’ve been able to access FEMA funding for these repairs at a faster rate than we can for the others.  But with that said, we are confident in the process, and we are working closely with state and federal officials to ensure that all our campuses are fully restored in a timely manner.”

Wentzel noted that school officials are still in negotiation with FEMA officials to determine an approved plan of action for restorations at Denham Springs Elementary, Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High. All three Denham Springs schools remain closed after the floods, and have been housed in temporary campuses at off-site locations since January.

 

DISTRICT RESTORES BUS FLEET TO PRE-FLOOD STATUS

The Livingston Parish School Board recently voted unanimously to purchase 55 buses to replace buses lost in the extensive flooding in August 2016. Sixty-one buses were lost in the flood.

The buses will be purchased at an average cost of approximately $33,000 per bus for a total of about $1.8 million. The buses will be 2008 to 2014 models and will be purchased from three Louisiana vendors. With the purchase of the 55 buses, the school system’s fleet of buses will again be complete, according to School Board Member Jim Richardson, who is chairman of the board’s Transportation Committee.

 

 

FREE MEALS AVAILABLE TO ALL STUDENTS FOR 2017-2018 SCHOOL YEAR

All students enrolled in Livingston Parish Public Schools will be eligible to receive a free, healthy breakfast and lunch for the 2017-2018 school year, according to Superintendent Rick Wentzel.

“This is a tremendous cost saving opportunity for our families, many of whom are still struggling to recover from the devastating flood damage in August 2016,” Wentzel said, noting that the program is part of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP).  “I want to encourage all our families to take advantage of this service.”

 

LEAP TEST RESULTS SHOW RESILIENCE OF DISTRICT

Results of LEAP standardized tests from last year show that the displacement and disruption caused by the devastating flooding in August 2016 had only a minimal impact on student performance. Livingston Parish remained a top-tier performing district at all grade levels, with more than 42 percent of all students scoring “Mastery” or above on the tests.

The statewide average of students scoring “Mastery” or above is 33 percent.

LEAP tests, short for Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, are given in grades three to eight. Students receive scores for English, math, science and social studies.  This year, for the first time, students in fifth to eighth grade were required to take the tests exclusively on computer.  Officials anticipated this change would also impact results.
 

ASSESS THE NEED CAMPAIGN WORKING TO MEET EVERY NEED

Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor, local volunteers and area businesses are teaming up with Assess the Need for the 17th consecutive year to provide school supplies for students in Livingston Parish.

In addition to collecting business donations and sponsorships, volunteers will be outside the Wal-Mart stores in Denham Springs, Walker and Watson, August 5-6, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, to collect monetary donations and supplies.

“Now, more than ever, our people need encouragement that our parish will rebuild stronger than ever, and a key component of that is giving our students what they need to have a great school year,” he said.

Donations also can also be mailed to Assess the Need, 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 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH EDUCATOR AND HALL OF FAME COACH TAPPED TO LEAD LHSAA

Karen Hoyt, LHSAA Asst. Executive Director

Former Livingston Parish Educator and Coach Karen Hoyt has been hired as an assistant executive director for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.  She will coordinate volleyball, boys and girls basketball, spirit and softball for the statewide association.

Hoyt is a former girls basketball coach at Albany High School. During her tenure, her teams won two state girls basketball titles and had one runner-up finish.  Hoyt was inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.  She most recently worked as an assistant principal at Denham Springs Junior High.

 

 

 

 

June 2017

DISTRICT HONORS TOP TEACHERS OF THE YEAR

The district recently recognized its top Teachers of the Year for the 2016-2017 school year. The winners received a certificate, flower bouquet and gift from Superintendent Rick Wentzel and representatives of Dream Teachers, a statewide organization that rewards educators who model instructional excellence and dedication.  A top teacher from each category was selected to compete at the state’s regional level.

The High School Teachers of the Year winners included Shellie Woodward, Albany High; Elizabeth Hart, Denham Springs High; Edith Cutrer, Doyle High; Josh Burton, Holden High; Brett Beard, Live Oak High; Carol Tate, Springfield High; Brandi Hoch, Walker Freshman; and Melinda Joelle Bourgeois, Walker High.

The Middle School Teachers of the Year winners were Casey Foster, Albany Middle; Mandy McCann, Denham Springs Junior High; Jodi Herring, Holden High; Eva Glasscock, Juban Parc Junior High; Tabatha Walker, Live Oak Middle; Melissa Anderson, Maurepas; Karen Deel, North Corbin Junior High; Jason Vidaurre, Southside Junior High; Danielle Richardson, Springfield Middle; and David Will, Westside Junior High.

The Elementary Teachers of the Year winners were Scarlett Smith, Albany Lower Elementary; Melyssa DePaula, Albany Upper Elementary; Heather Kuhlman, Denham Springs Elementary; Stacy Perrone, Doyle Elementary; Nicole Yates, Eastside Elementary; Kati Holt, French Settlement Elementary; Karen Pourciau, Freshwater Elementary; April Blanchard, Frost; Debra Held, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Annie Bigner, Holden; Sarah McCrary, Juban Parc  Elementary; Jennifer Berry, Levi Milton Elementary; Sunnie Glover, Lewis Vincent Elementary; Eva Mizell, Live Oak Elementary; Joelle Shelton, North Corbin Elementary; Tonya Dean, North Live Oak Elementary;  Amy Frizell, Northside Elementary; Karly Robertson, Seventh Ward Elementary; Annette Marrs, South Fork  Elementary; Kristy Baker, South Live Oak Elementary; Elizabeth King, South Walker Elementary; Stephanie Cronan, Springfield Elementary; Julie Freneaux, Southside Elementary; and Patricia Underwood, Walker  Elementary.

The 2017 Livingston Parish Teacher of the Year winners, from left to right, are: Elementary School Teacher of the Year Karen Pourciau, Freshwater Elementary; Middle School Teacher of the Year, Jodi Herring, Holden; and High School Teacher of the Year, Elizabeth Hart, Denham Springs High School.

 

 

TOP PRINCIPALS RECOGNIZED, STEED ADVANCES TO STATE FINALS

The district also recognized the Principal of the Year winners for the 2016-2017 school year, including the parish’s Elementary School Principal of the Year Shanna Steed, who advanced to be a semi-finalist for the state’s top award.

Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy noted that each of the winners managed campuses that took in another school in the aftermath of the flooding in August 2016.

“I can’t say ‘Thank You’ enough to these principals and what they mean to me and this school system. We could not have opened just 20 days after the devastating flood hit our parish had they not been willing to open up their campuses and do everything they did to accommodate our needs,” Murphy said.

The 2017 Livingston Parish Principal of the Year winners are, pictured left to right: High School Principal of Year Beth Jones, Live Oak High School; Middle School Principal of the Year Dwayne Dykes, Springfield Middle School; and Elementary School Principal of the Year Shanna Steed, Juban Parc Elementary.

 

 

 

TEACHER HONORED FOR INTEGRATING AGRICULTURE IN CLASS LESSONS

Karen Parrino, North Live Oak Elementary Teacher

North Live Oak Elementary kindergarten teacher Karen Parrino has been named the Agriculture in the Classroom Elementary Teacher of the Year for Louisiana. The award recognizes outstanding efforts in integrating agriculture across the curriculum.

Parrino will enjoy an expense-paid trip to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference this month in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as a $500 cash award and iPad.

“One of my goals is to blend science and agriculture into the general learning experience. I want my students to become excited about the environment around them. Exposing them to real experiences will leave an impression that will probably stay with them for life,” Parrino said.

 

DSHS WIND ENSEMBLE SELECTED FOR CARNEGIE HALL FESTIVAL

The Denham Springs High School Wind Ensemble is one of only six bands in the nation that will perform in the Inaugural Cleveland Orchestra/Baldwin Wallace Conservatory International Festival at Carnegie Hall in New York City next February.

Fifty-five local students will make the trip. They are scheduled to perform on the 126-year-old Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage on Feb. 12, 2018, including participating with members of the other five bands for a premier 8 p.m. concert.

The Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music, which is a liberal arts-based and Methodist-affiliated college located just outside of Cleveland, is sponsoring the concert.

Denham Springs High School Band Director Andrew Hunter leads rehearsal. The band’s wind ensemble will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City in February 2018. (Photo Courtesy of Livingston Parish News)

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH BASEBALL STANDOUT DRAFTED BY CINCINNATI REDS

Mac Sceroler

Former Denham Springs High School baseball standout Mac Sceroler has been selected as the 137th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft by the Cincinnati Reds.  The right-handed pitching ace will forego his senior year at Southeastern Louisiana University to play professional baseball with the Reds.   Sceroler went 9-2 this season with a 3.81 ERA, leading the SLU Lions to a NCAA Tournament appearance.  He is the nephew of former MLB pitcher and LSU Hall of Fame player Ben McDonald.  His mother, Pasha McDonald Sceroler, is a school counselor at Southside Elementary.

 

May 2017

LIVINGSTON PARISH NAMES TOP STUDENTS OF THE YEAR

The 2017 Student of the Year winners for Livingston Parish include High School Student of the Year Eric Forbes from Holden; Middle School Student of the Year Hailey Enamorado from Denham Springs Junior High; and Elementary Student of the Year Daniel Lusker-Whitten from Eastside Elementary. These students will advance to compete in the state’s regional competition.

The 2017 Student of the Year winners for Livingston Parish include High School Student of the Year Eric Forbes from Holden; Middle School Student of the Year Hailey Enamorado from Denham Springs Junior High; and Elementary Student of the Year Daniel Lusker-Whitten from Eastside Elementary.

The Livingston Parish School Board and Superintendent Rick Wentzel on May 4 recognized parish students in grades 5, 8 and 12, who were awarded Student of the Year honors at their respective schools, as well as the parish’s top three students who will advance to compete at the state’s regional Student of the Year competition.

The parish’s top three 2017 Student of the Year winners include Daniel “Carson” Lusker-Whitten, a 5th grader at Eastside Elementary; Hailey Enamorado, an 8th grader at Denham Springs Junior High; and Eric Forbes, a senior at Holden High School.

Forbes will be entering Louisiana State University this fall with 60 credit hours and a 31 on his ACT. He is graduating with a 4.0 GPA and is a noted Bible scholar who has learned more than 2,000 verses of scripture.

Enamorado has a 4.0 GPA and president of her school’s honor society. She recently created Hailey’s Heroes fundraiser for veterans and spoke at the Baton Rouge Fallen Officers Memorial.

Lusker-Whitten has a 4.0 GPA and is active in Cub Scouts. He recently helped to raise more than $60,000 for children with heart disease.

Click here for information on all the Student of the Year winners across the parish, including group photos of the Elementary, Middle and High School Students of the Year.

 

SPRINGFIELD STUDENT ARTIST COOKING UP BUSINESS

http://www.katpigottbooks.com/

Springfield High School Freshman Mason Sibley prepares to flip his edible griddle artwork for a young customer at a recent book fair in St. Francisville. Sibley uses pancake art to promote the book “Green Dinosaur Pancakes,” which he illustrated with author Kat Pigott. Looking on to the right is Sibley’s mother Misti Sibley.

Springfield High School Freshman Mason Sibley’s ability as an illustrator is quickly gaining attention of professionals and pancake lovers! That’s because the young illustrator is now featuring his work on a sizzling griddle.

Sibley is promoting the children’s book “Green Dinosaur Pancakes,” which is written by local author Kat Pigott and illustrated by Sibley, through unique book signing appearances across the region that include him making vibrant colored pancakes in the of green dinosaurs.

“It’s a fun way to promote the book,” Sibley said. “I mix together vibrant-colored baking gels with regular pancake mix and place it in a squeeze bottle that I can use to draw on the griddle.  From there, voila! – green dinosaur pancakes ready for the eating!”

Sibley said he learned how to make the tasty edible mixture from an international food artist. “I learned the right ingredients to use to enhance the colors without compromising the taste of the pancake,” he said.

Sibley said he and Pigott are working on a sequel to the book, which he looks forward to taking on the road as well. But at the same time, he is working on his ultimate goal to become an illustration artist for Disney. He said he has begun working with professional animators and illustrators at Disney who invite him to spend time with them each summer.

 

ALBANY STUDENT RECEIVES INTERNATIONAL AWARD

Gabriel “Blaise” Garland

Gabriel “Blaise” Garland

Gabriel “Blaise” Garland of Albany was recently awarded the 2017 Yes I Can Award at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston as part of the Council for Exceptional Children Convention & Expo.

The international award was presented to only 12 students with exceptionalities in the categories of academics, arts, school and community activities, self-advocacy, technology and transition. Garland was recognized in the academics category.

Over the last two years, Garland has transitioned from a combination of homebound and in-school classes to now attend school every day. He has made huge strides, like reading aloud to the class, earning a spot on the honor roll and trying out for the school football team.

 

THREE PARISH SCHOOLS EARN U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT RANKING

badge-national-rankingsThree Livingston Parish High Schools continue to receive top scores in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best High School rankings.  For the 2017 rankings, Holden High School earned the 13th spot among Louisiana schools and a silver medal, while Maurepas was ranked 29th in the state and Springfield was ranked 40th in the state, earning both schools a bronze medal.

The national magazine’s rankings are based on the school’s performances on state assessments, Advanced Placement tests and graduation rates. More than 5,000 schools were honored nationally.  In Louisiana, four high schools received gold medals, 12 earned silver and 82 were awarded bronze.

Holden High has been a previous bronze medal winner for the past five years in a row. This is the first time any Livingston Parish school has been awarded a silver medal.  Springfield has won four consecutive bronze medals and Maurepas has earned three consecutive awards.  French Settlement High is a past bronze medal recipient.

 

CONGRESSMAN GRAVES AND GOOGLE HOST INTERNET SAFETY SESSION

Students at Denham Springs Junior High participate in a password faceoff challenge to determine who can come up with the strongest possible password. The exercise was conducted as part of a safety presentation to the school by Google and Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves. (Photo courtesy of Google)

Students at Denham Springs Junior High participate in a password faceoff challenge to determine who can come up with the strongest possible password. The exercise was conducted as part of a safety presentation to the school by Google and Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves. (Photo courtesy of Google)

Google and Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves recently visited Denham Springs Junior High School to present the Online Safety Roadshow, an online safety assembly developed by Google for middle school students.

Two Google employees delivered the 45 minute presentation, which  focused on five tips for staying safe and being smart online. They covered topics including: thinking before you share, setting strong passwords, using settings, identifying online scams, and being positive online.

“Technology and the Internet are continuing to reshape how the world operates, and kids growing up right now will be leading future waves of innovation in the years ahead,” Graves said. “It’s important to learn early how to safely use and contribute to the ever-growing amount of information online, and I’m glad to be a part of today’s effort.”

 

FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER SPEAKER DISCUSSES IMPORTANCE OF POSITIVE CHOICES

Youth Speaker Michael Cuestas recently spoke to students at Doyle Junior High School about the importance of making positive decisions. Cuestas also made presentations to Westside Junior High and Albany Middle School as part of a sponsored visit by the Livingston Parish Public School Family Resource Center. For more information about the Family Resource Center, call 225-667-1098.

Youth Speaker Michael Cuestas recently spoke to students at Doyle Junior High School about the importance of making positive decisions. Cuestas also made presentations to Westside Junior High and Albany Middle School as part of a sponsored visit by the Livingston Parish Public School Family Resource Center. For more information about the Family Resource Center, call 225-667-1098.

April 2017

ALL LIVINGSTON PARISH STUDENTS TO RECEIVE FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH THROUGH 2021

Students in cafeteria line. (iStock photo)A U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative called the Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP, is bringing some much needed relief to Livingston Parish families after the devastating flooding in August.  The CEP will allow all Livingston Parish students to receive free meals – breakfast and lunch — regardless of income, through the 2020-2021 school year.

According to federal requirements, a school or school district is eligible to take advantage of CEP if at least 40 percent of its children qualify for free lunches. If 62.5 percent or more do, then the federal government picks up the entire tab.  Prior to the storm, only one of out of 42 schools in Livingston Parish crossed the 40 percent threshold.  Since the flooding, which has left thousands of children homeless, the number of directly certified children has doubled.

Superintendent Rick Wentzel noted that Livingston Parish has been offering free school meals to all of its more than 25,000 students since the flooding. In October, the district adopted CEP for the remainder of the school year and intends to reapply for the program for four more years.

Leah Smith, supervisor of child nutrition, said breakfast participation has increased significantly, up from 160 students a day in December to 600 per day in March.

 

LIVE OAK HOSTS SPECIAL OLYMPICS’ FLORIDA PARISHES MEET

Physical therapist Jenna McMasters assists Westside Junior High athlete Andrew Ingrahm at the Special Olympics’ Florida Parishes Area Track & Field Meet. Photo courtesy of The Advocate, by Photographer David Normand.

Paraprofessional Jenna McMasters assists Westside Junior High athlete Andrew Ingrahm at the Special Olympics’ Florida Parishes Area Track & Field Meet. Photo courtesy of The Advocate, by Photographer David Normand.

Athletes from around Livingston Parish competed in the Florida Parishes Area  Track & Field Meet at Live Oak on March 31. District staff, paraprofessionals, as well as LOHS students, acted as coaches, chaperones and cheerleaders for the athletes.

The event is part of the Special Olympics Louisiana effort to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for all children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

 

 

TALENTED ARTS STUDENTS BRING “ROSIE THE RIVETER” TO LIFE

Holden High School Senior Jessica Litolff played the lead role of Rosie in the Livingston Parish Talented Arts Program’s production of “Rosie the Riveter.”

Holden High School Senior Jessica Litolff played the lead role of Rosie in the Livingston Parish Talented Arts Program’s production of “Rosie the Riveter.” Photo courtesy of Livingston Parish News

Students from Albany, Doyle, Holden and Springfield, who are members of the parish’s Talented Arts Program, recently presented an on-stage look at how a famous icon from World War II came to be.

They presented “Rosie the Riveter,” at the Suma Hall Community Conference Center, April 6-8. The story opens in 1942 with the owner of Eddie’s Auto Parts Factory struggling to keep his business afloat because of a freeze on the manufacturing of car parts. His secretary, Rosie, presents the idea of having the factory secure a government contract that makes airplane parts instead.  From there, the students give their fictional account of how Rosie became the American symbol of “We Can Do It!” during World War II.  The play was directed by TAP theater instructor Melani Glascock.

 

 

LOCAL STUDENT SELECTED TO SADD NATIONAL STUDENT LEADERSHIP COUNCIL

Live Oak High School Student Laurie McCreary selected to the SADD National Student Leadership Council.

Live Oak High School Student Laurie McCreary selected to the SADD National Student Leadership Council.

Live Oak High School’s Laurie McCreary has been selected from a nationwide pool of highly qualified applicants to serve on the National Student Leadership Council for Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) for the 2017-2018 school year.

The SADD Student Leadership Council advises the organization’s board of directors on policies, programs and plans for the implementation of the annual SADD National Conference. McCreary will provide strategic direction to the organization on health and safety priorities and will serve as a national and regional representative of the SADD network. She begins her term in June.

“Laurie’s passion and commitment to issues that matter to her and to her peers makes her an ideal candidate for SADD’s National Student Leadership Council,” SADD President and CEO Dawn Teixeira said.

 

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AWARDS 21 SCHOLARSHIPS

Pictured, left to right, are: (back row) Macy Dufrene, Grace Dugas, Cameron Hood, Tommy Fuentes, Austin Barnes, Evan Bergeron, Reeves Blankenship, Jack Dalbert, Nathan Penalber, Eric Forbes, Caroline Taylor, Gabrielle Chenier, (front row) Jasmine Hendry, Katelyn Prescott, Krysta Mostert, Kaitlyn Rayborn, Haleigh Jones, Emily Beever, and Jessica Litolff.

Pictured, left to right, are: (back row) Macy Dufrene, Grace Dugas, Cameron Hood, Tommy Fuentes, Austin Barnes, Evan Bergeron, Reeves Blankenship, Jack Dalbert, Nathan Penalber, Eric Forbes, Caroline Taylor, Gabrielle Chenier, (front row) Jasmine Hendry, Katelyn Prescott, Krysta Mostert, Kaitlyn Rayborn, Haleigh Jones, Emily Beever, and Jessica Litolff.

The Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce recently awarded scholarships to 21 parish seniors during its annual State of Education meeting.  Each scholarship, valued at $500, is made possible through contributions from member businesses.

Winners of the academic scholarships included Jasmine Hendry, Albany High; Austin Barnes, Grace Dugas, Krysta Mostert and Caroline Taylor, Denham Springs High; Emily Beever, Haleigh Jones and Kaitlyn Rayborn, Doyle High; Eric Forbes, Jessica Litolff and Nathan Penalber, Holden High; Jack Dalber, Live Oak High; Reeves Blankenship and Shelby Chandler, Springfield High; and Evan Bergeron, Cameron Hood and Katelyn Prescott, Walker High.

The Alice Sibley scholarship was presented to Thomas Fuentes, Denham Springs High; Gabrielle Chanier, Live Oak High; and Samantha Hebert, Walker High. The Ability Beyond Award was given to Macy Dufrene, Holden High.

 

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

bb

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.