CLASS TIME ADDED TO 2016 ACADEMIC CALENDAR
The Livingston Parish School Board recently approved a revised academic calendar to add class time to the 2016 Fall calendar in the aftermath of historic flooding throughout the parish. Along with the regularly scheduled classes that resumed on Sept. 12, instruction time was added by changing the following days into full class days:
- Thursday, Sept. 15 (originally a ½ day for teacher professional development)
- Friday, Oct. 7 (originally a Fair Day holiday; the Livingston Parish Fair has been cancelled)
- Thursday, Oct. 20 (originally a Teacher/Parent Conference Day)
- Wednesday, Nov. 16 (originally a ½ day for teacher professional development)
NEARLY ALL STUDENTS RETURN TO DISTRICT POST-FLOOD
More than 95 percent of all students enrolled in Livingston Parish schools for the 2016-2017 school year have returned to school since classes restarted after the flood. “We have been working very hard to have all our students accounted for and back in a classroom,” Superintendent Rick Wentzel said. He noted that most students are back with their original schools. Also, Wentzel said some of the students who have not returned to class in the parish have contacted the school system and expressed an intention to return once they are able to return to their homes. “We are pleased with the numbers and we will continue to work with our displaced families to get every student back before the end of the year,” he said.
SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL SET TO OPEN BY OCTOBER 3
Superintendent Rick Wentzel has announced that teachers, staff and students of Springfield High School will be able to return to the campus on Oct. 3. All the school buildings have been cleaned and restored to working order, he said. “We are very appreciative of the patience and cooperation displayed by everyone in the Springfield community, and we share in their excitement to see the campus reopen,” Wentzel said. He especially thanked the community of Springfield Middle School for platooning with the high school. Wentzel noted that the transportation and class schedules for both Springfield High School and Springfield Middle School will resume their normal times as before the flooding.
SCHOOL OFFICIALS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS TEAM UP TO COLLECT DONATIONS FOR STUDENTS
With thousands of homes flooded and families displaced, some of the greatest needs throughout the parish have been restoring school supplies, uniforms and shoes to students so they can return to the classroom equipped and ready to resume learning. School leaders quickly established a means to request and receive donations so supplies and clothing could be dispersed to students as soon as possible. Juban Parc Junior High Principal Jeff Frizell, Literacy & Technology Center Director Kim Albin and Supervisor Ed Foster teamed up to collect, sort and distribute school supplies that were donated. Curriculum Director Deborah Kropog managed a team of volunteers who collected and correctly sized uniforms and shoes. They anticipate collecting and distributing nearly 10,000 uniforms by the end of the month. Albany Middle School Teacher Joni Smith also used her position as the newly named Louisiana Teacher of the Year to reach out to organizations across the state and nationwide to give a variety donations.
At the same time, Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor quickly responded to the school system’s call for help by reactivating the Assess the Need campaign. Local radio, television and news organizations ran ads asking for assistance for Livingston Parish students. One reply to that call for help came from three former LSU golfers who are on the PGA tour – David Toms, Andrew Loupe and Smylie Kaufman. They recently presented Taylor with a $50,000 check to Assess the Need to help with flood relief for local students.
Some other notable donations include:
- a $50,000 donation to the school system from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation;
- an in-kind donation of football equipment, helmets and shoes for the Denham Springs High School football team from the NFL and New Orleans Saints;
- an in-kind donation of football equipment, helmets and shoes for the Southside Junior High School team from various parents and contributors, most notably Benjamin Watson, Charles Tillman, Dave Roberts and Schutt and Greg Barnett;
- a $5,000 in-kind donation of instruments and an electric public address system for the Denham Springs Junior High Band from the Baton Rouge Guitar Center;
- an in-kind donation of 600 pairs of shoes for faculty and students of Live Oak High School and Denham Springs High School from Varsity Sports;
- an in-kind donation of shoes from Fleet Feet and the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class.
MINI-PARADE BRIGHTENS SPIRITS
The staff and faculty of Gray’s Creek Elementary School took their message of hope and welcome for their students to the street – literally! Led by Marshal Jerry Denton, Principal Melissa Dougherty and her team traveled throughout flood-stricken neighborhoods the week prior to restarting school, tossing out toys, candy and other goodies to their students. They dubbed the mini-parade their “Swamp Tour” in honor of the school’s gator mascot.
TEACHERS DISPLAY COLORS OF UNITY
To help welcome the teachers, staff and students of Denham Springs Elementary to their temporary home at Eastside Elementary, the teachers wore purple and gold – Denham Springs Elementary’s school colors – as a sign of support and unity. The Denham Springs Elementary campus is still closed due to flood damage, so students from grades Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd are attending class at Eastside Elementary.