By Steve Horton, Executive Director at the Louisiana School of Math, Science and the Arts (LSMSA).
Since most of my friends have some sort of tie to Natchitoches and the Louisiana School I wanted to share something about the LSMSA senior class who graduated Saturday. The school is built around traditions, one being between the Executive Director and the Senior Class that began with the first classes…some as far back as 1985.
One of those traditions is the senior class prank. But another involves a simple type of “gift” from each member of the senior class that is exchanged on stage when the students get their diplomas. Over the years former ED’s have gotten ball bearings, rocks, lottery tickets, toilet paper, and action figures…just to name a few. Usually there is some sort of inside humor that justifies the reason for the gift.
This class…..three of the class members completed a ceramics class under the direction of LSMSA’s art professor Chris King…they began by building a replica of the high school building in ceramic…but I understand that it broke. So they started again, and built the replica out of wood..lined the inside with a type of blue velvet, and painted the outside to match the building. It was perfectly constructed, and it was obvious that they took hours to create this for me.
What was the most special was what they each gave me, in addition to this replica that was rolled on stage, a yellow, scrolled piece of paper that included a note to me. It was evident that many held these notes with sweaty palms! Some of the notes documented favorite memories of their LSMSA experience…some used a word to describe their time here…and most of them shared their memories of LSMSA that included me in my first year. I was speechless the entire time I sorted through over 100 of these notes.
These kids are a reflection of what we will look forward to as our future leaders. LSMSA (its faculty, staff, students and alumni) creates one of the most rewarding experiences that will allow its graduates to be successful in whatever they decide they want to do. That point hit me when I testified before the state senate finance committee as part of our request for continued funding for the school. There is no question down in Baton Rouge of LSMSA’s student accomplishments.
I cannot be more proud of a group of students than I am of the entire student body of LSMSA. But my first senior class hit my heart hard with this gift. I will miss them, and I am very grateful to them for validating that my move to LSMSA was the very best decision of my career.