Learning Center opensJan 19th, 2011 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: top story
New School Board sworn in
Jemi Carlone thought she would be able to retrieve some of her belongings from the old Alternative School in Buras shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The former teacher said she expected items kept in the top drawer of a tall file cabinet would be fine.
What she discovered were desks and chairs hanging from the rafters.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency determined the school would be rebuilt, and in the meantime, classes were conducted in Belle Chasse.
Finally, the work of the Plaquemines Parish School Board, School Superintendant, Yeats and Yeates Architects, Vratcinas Construction Company, construction managers HOV Services, LLC/Meridian, Robert A. Bouchon Consulting Engineers, M-K Engineering, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and FEMA came to fruition on Jan. 10 when the red ribbon on the new building was cut.
“You don’t know the hard work that’s gone into this,” said Stanley Gaudet, principal of the Plaquemines Parish School Board Learning Center. “This is a momentous occasion.”
Carlone, now the new principal of Belle Chasse High School, said the former school had limited space, and the newer building will afford teachers and students more opportunities.
One new feature of the Learning Center is a large kitchen and cooking class program, which was made possible by a $100,000 grant. Stephen Waddell, chairman of Health and Natural Science at Nunez Community College, was responsible for applying for the state grant, and he described the process as very tedious and taking a long time to write.
Culinary class instructor, Carolyn Barrois, said the prior program started about a year ago, as a sanitation class. It then evolved into basic food preparation, operating in a room with one stove and one sink, using pots and pans Barrois brought from home.
Today, the classroom kitchen boasts a walk-in refrigerator and freezer, multiple ovens and ample metal countertops.
The 16,000-square-foot Learning Center stands as the first educational building fully funded by FEMA in the parish, costing the government agency about $6.2 million.
Following a tour of the brand new building, the school board began their first monthly meeting of the year. Below are some of the highlights:
Board Sworn In
To kick off the meeting, the full school board – Rev. Michael W. Jiles, District 1; Nancy LaHaye, District 2; Anthony St. Philip, District 3; Joyce Lamkin, District 4; Carlton LaFrance, District 6; Paul Lemaire, District 7; William Mertz, District 9; and new members Fran Bayhi-Martinez, District 5, and Charles Soileau, District 8 – took their oath of office in unison. While Lamkin was re-elected to her school board seat, she stepped down as board president after a two-year term to a standing ovation from the audience and her fellow board members. The board unanimously voted to have Mertz take over as school board president, but not without comments from some members echoing the sentiment that Lamkin has left big shoes for Mertz to fill.
The remaining officer positions were elected unanimously, with LaHaye chosen to be vice president, Lemaire to be executive committee member and Jiles to be parliamentarian.
Program to Increase Graduation Rate
“This program finally comes to the forefront!” exclaimed Alberta Cousson, the Secondary and Instructional Technology Director for the Plaquemines Parish school system.
The program Cousson is so excited about will cater class schedules and craft online coursework to be done from home for older high school students, expediting their high school career.
Incoming freshman that are 15-years-old or older and meet the standardized test score requirements were eligible to participate in the program, which is currently being piloted by 12 students across the parish.
Alberta said another key aspect of the program is having teacher-mentors in the school to help coach the students along the way.
The program would allow students to complete all requirements to receive their high school diploma in two-and-a-half to three years, as opposed to four years with traditional class schedules.
Belle Chasse High Wins College Readiness Award
Belle Chasse High School won the 2010 College Readiness Award based on the students’ scores on the American College Testing (ACT) standardized assessment. According to the Louisiana ACT Council, BCHS was, “recognized for outstanding utilization of the ACT: significantly increasing ACT composite scores over the past five years, student participating in the ACT, and improving college readiness.”
The next meeting will take place on Monday, Feb. 7, at South Plaquemines Elementary School at 6 p.m.