Fans will compete in “Cook-Off” at NSU vs. Grambling game

Fan Cookoff.jpg

As a part of the exciting Northwestern vs. Grambling football weekend, Sept. 7-8, a “cook-off” will be held for fans and supporters of both schools.

Greg Burke, director of athletics at Northwestern, and Paul Bryant Sr., director of athletics at Grambling, will serve as celebrity chefs for the chicken and spare ribs contest.

A $25 entry fee for the contest, prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners. To enter and for more information, contact: Donta Latchie, (318) 471-7922, Rev. Steven Harris, (318) 419-0802 or Van Erikson at NSU Foundation Center, (318) 357-4415.

Natchitoches among top 13 outstanding school systems in Louisiana

School Systems
BATON ROUGE- The Louisiana Department of Education released data on Aug. 29 demonstrating how students in grades 4-12 are progressing toward fully mastering key concepts and skills in English language arts (ELA) and math year-after-year. The release marks a significant step in the implementation of the state’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), in which Louisiana leaders committed to developing a new tool to provide a more comprehensive view of school and school system performance.

Natchitoches Parish ranked among the top 13 parishes according to the new school performance measure that tracks student progress in the state.
The release complements the release of subject-area proficiency rates on LEAP 2025 assessments, and for the first time, will factor into the annual school performance scores that will be published in the Louisiana School Finder later this fall.

“Academic achievement indicates whether students are prepared for the next level of study. Student progress indicates whether students are improving from one year to the next. Together, achievement and progress provide a more complete picture,” said State Superintendent John White. “Now the state’s accountability system measures not only where students ended up, but how much progress they made to get there.”

MEASURING STUDENT PROGRESS
Louisiana public schools and school systems are assigned A-F letter grades every year. The letter grades correspond to a scale of school performance scores, which are calculated using student performance metrics, including but not limited to students’ state assessment scores.

By 2025, as outlined in the state’s ESSA plan, the average A-rated school in Louisiana is one in which students are proficient in literacy and math skills, demonstrated by a score of Mastery or Advanced on state assessments. To ensure students are improving at a rate that will allow them to reach this goal, the state has developed a measurement tool that assigns each student a tailored growth target to meet each year and then tracks how their performance changes over time.

Schools earn an ‘A’ in the progress measure for students that demonstrate top growth by:

showing improvement on ELA and math assessments that is on track to Mastery of key skills and content by 8th grade (elementary/middle school) or 10th grade (high school), and/or
outperforming other similar students statewide, as measured by Louisiana’s value-added model.
The student progress measure will attribute to 25 percent of an elementary or middle school’s performance score and 12.5 percent of a high school’s performance score. In addition to an overall school performance score and letter grade, schools will earn a letter grade equivalent for student achievement and progress on their annual report card.

2018 STUDENT PROGRESS RESULTS
Based on this measurement, the 2018 student progress results show:

Students are progressing at a faster pace in ELA than in math, mirroring recent subject-area state assessment achievement results. About 48 percent of students statewide demonstrated top growth on ELA assessments, compared to 43 percent on math.
Louisiana is demonstrating the greatest growth with students scoring Basic in the prior year. This is followed closely by the most struggling students, those scoring Approaching Basic or Unsatisfactory in the prior year.
Historically disadvantaged groups of students demonstrated top growth statewide, but accelerated progress is needed to close achievement gaps with peers. For example, 46 percent of assessments across all students demonstrated top growth, while 43 percent of assessments among black students, 45 percent among economically disadvantaged, 46 percent among English learners, and 43 percent among students with disabilities achieved that level. However, because their overall achievement levels are lower, educators must support historically disadvantaged student groups to improve at a faster pace than their peers in order to close achievement gaps.
Select schools and school systems statewide made significant gains among all subjects, grades and/or groups of students.

UTILIZING STUDENT PROGRESS RESULTS
The student progress results will be utilized in various ways, depending on the audience. Families, for example, will use the data to understand the extent to which schools in their community are helping students stay on track or catch up, while educators will use the data to identify gaps in learning and instruction, provide targeted interventions to students, set meaningful goals, and implement improvement strategies.

The state will use this information to calculate school performance scores and letter grades this fall, as well as a score and letter grade equivalent for both student performance and student progress, and to identify and support struggling schools.

As part of Louisiana’s ESSA plan, struggling schools are required to submit an improvement plan to the Department, along with an application for funding to support its implementation. Struggling schools include:

Comprehensive intervention required for persistently low performance overall
Urgent intervention required for persistently low performance among specific subgroups of students or out-of-school discipline rates
Schools with low performance among specific subgroups of students in the current year only will be identified with the label “urgent intervention needed.”

School System 2

TEAS Boot Camp to be held Sept. 7 and 14

TEAS boot camp
Northwestern State University’s Office of Electronic and Continuing Education will offer a TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) Boot Camp
Sept. 7 and 14 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The class will be on the second floor of South Hall on NSU’s Natchitoches campus. The fee is $50 for those who pre-register and $75 on the day of class.

Students will receive study tips and a review of TEAS sections on reading, math, science and English.

For more information, call (318) 357-6355, (800) 376-2422 or go to nsula.edu/ece/non-credit-programs.

Ponderings with Doug – August 31, 2018

DougFUMC

This is the one time of year when zero is a good thing. Another time zero is good, is when one is standing on the first tee box on a golf course.

Most of our football teams are zero and zero. Their record is zero wins and zero losses. The professionals who guide us in our understanding of the sport are up and down the dial explaining to us how our favorite team will fare in the coming season. They are making predictions about the final won-loss numbers for the whole year. Their football crystal balls allow them to take a zero and zero team and predict their won-loss record at the end of the season. Then there are folks like me who eat up that prediction stuff. I want to know the final record before a game is played!

Zero and zero fills our hearts with hope. We are looking forward to what might be. We are filling our dreams with hopes of the playoffs and the big game. We know that this is the year. We are certain of it because the pundits made predictions based on our recruiting class from last year. No one has played a game yet. This is all potentiality. Now every team is a potential champion. All the teams have the possibility of lifting the trophy at the end of the season.

The teams have worked hard under the watchful eyes of the coaches. Practice is always a rough time. One grows weary of tackling the same people all week. Besides, practice is just that; practice. We want the real game. We want the scores. We want the celebrations and the perfect season. If we can’t have the perfect season we want a respectable season and just wait until next season.

Every team is even now. Every team has the same record. Every team could be in the playoffs or the dog house. It must be nerve racking for coaches wondering if they have made the right preparations or if they have used the right motivation. How can you know until the game is played?

Then the ebb and flow of the game. Sometimes fans can’t take the stress of watching. Some dogs hide because their humans make funny noises when the team fails to pick up the blitz. Or they scream loudly when the split end is open on the go-route. Some of us have trained our dogs to recognize the run-pass option and make the right call by barking!

This weekend, all the waiting is over. We football fans will be in our chairs or at our grills with a television or two going full blast because football season starts. I know it is serious because I heard the interview Brad Laird did on the Paul Finebaum show. Our coach did a great job with the interview!

Zero and Zero is where every team starts.

Through God’s grace, zero and zero is where we can start again!

NSU Jazz Orchestra to hold Alumni Reunion Oct. 26

Alumni Reunion
The Northwestern State University Jazz Orchestra will hold an Alumni Reunion Friday, Oct. 26. The reunion is among the many events taking place during NSU’s Homecoming Weekend.

“This will be a great opportunity to reconnect with many of our alumni that helped build our Jazz Orchestra over the years,” said Jazz Orchestra Director Galindo Rodriguez. “Many of them have gone on to rewarding careers in music, education and other fields. It’s nice to know that their participation in the Jazz Orchestra helped them build a foundation for success.”

The reunion begins with a rehearsal from 10 a.m. to noon in Varnado Hall. After lunch, alumni will visit campus including Creative and Performing Arts classrooms and observe student ensembles.

At 5:30 p.m., there will be a soundcheck in the amphitheater at the Alumni Courtyard followed by a 6:30 p.m. concert by Jazz Orchestra alumni. Featured guest artists will be Carlos Ortiz IV on jazz trumpet and vocalist D’Nissa Hester.

Northwestern State Jazz Orchestra was rated as an Outstanding Band at the 2017 Loyola Jazz Festival held in New Orleans. The Jazz Orchestra has worked with artists including Ellis Marsalis, Byron Stripling, Jessy J, Mike Williams from the Count Basie Orchestra, Tony Dagradi, Graham Breedlove, Ted Partin, Mike Vax and Matt Niess from the Jazz Army Blues. The Jazz Orchestra has also performed with Daniel Johnson, Mike Tomaro, Bob Kase, Trent Austin, Allen Vizzutti, Bill Watrous, Bill Causey Jr., Rodney Whitaker, Andy Pizzo, Mike Steinel, Ingrid Jensen, Ray Vasquez and Warren Wolf. Rodriguez has also brought to Natchitoches Maynard Ferguson and Big Bop Nouveau, The U. S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, The U.S. Air Force Falconaires, Dimensions in Blue and the Astral Project Jazz Qunitet.

The Jazz Orchestra performs at the annual Christmas Gala along with a full concert schedule.

Celebrate an Incredible Month at the Library

Library Card Month

As students prepare to head back to school, there is one essential school supply that requires no shopping and doesn’t cost a penny – it’s a library card.

This September, the Natchitoches Parish Library (NPL) is joining with the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries nationwide for Library Card Sign-up Month, to encourage parents, caregivers and students to obtain a free library card that will save them money while reaping rewards in academic achievement and lifelong learning.

Whether it’s providing free access to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) programs, educational apps, in-person and virtual homework help or technology workshops, a library card is one of the most cost effective back-to-school supplies. Resources at the NPL are available to anyone with a library card. This includes programming dedicated to children, teens, and adults. Maybe you have seen a few of the NPL’s offerings? With computer classes, art workshops, live musical performances, fitness programs, an anime club, and outdoor movies, there is something for someone of any interest!

Libraries play an important role in the education and development of children. Studies show children who are read to in the home and who use the library perform better in school and are more likely to continue to use the library as a source of lifetime learning.

“Throughout the school year, our library offers a variety of programs to stimulate an interest in reading and learning and we continue offerings into the summer to reduce the chances of a ‘summer slide’ while children are out of school,” says Alan Niette, Community Outreach Coordinator. “Weekly story times expose young children to the joy of reading and encourage school readiness, while older children have access to technology and digital tools such as our children’s computer lab and preloaded Launchpad learning tablets, and the help from library staff to use those resources.”

This year, Disney’s the Incredibles are Library Card Sign-up Month honorary chairs, helping to promote the value of a library card and bring attention to the many ways libraries and librarians transform lives and communities through education. During September, the NPL will be out in the community to promote its services to prospective patrons. The NPL will also be offering free library card replacements all month long for those who have lost or well-worn cards.

Since 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. During the month, the ALA and libraries unite together in a national effort to ensure every child signs up for their own library card. For more information about how to sign up for a library card, visit please the Natchitoches Parish Library in person or online at natlib.org.

FIRE HYDRANT FLOW TESTING STARTS WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 10

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The Natchitoches Fire Department will be conducting fire hydrant flow tests starting the week of September 10, 2018 through Friday, October 12, 2018. The opening of fire hydrants may result in temporary water discoloration that should return to normal within a few hours of the test.

The Natchitoches Fire Department appreciates the public’s patience while these tests are being completed. For more information or questions, please call (318) 357-3860 and speak with the Chief or Assistant Chief on duty.

Natchitoches Parish Grand Jury returns indictment against accused murderer

DA-BJHLOGOWHT

Natchitoches Parish District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington announced the grand jury findings in the July 2018 burning death of a six-month-old infant.

The grand jury returned a true bill indictment of 1st degree murder against Felicia Marie- Nicole Smith, 26, of Natchitoches.

Additionally, the grand jury has pretermitted the case of Hanna Nicole Barker, 23, of Natchitoches, who is the mother of the infant victim. Barker is charged with criminal conspiracy and principal to 1st degree murder.

Harrington stated, “pretermitting of a charge often occurs when the grand jury requests more evidence in a case to proceed, but allows the investigation to continue.”

“These cases are still under investigation. The Natchitoches City Police and the La. State Fire Marshal are continuing with their work on both cases. As additional evidence is obtained and presented, we will proceed accordingly,” said Harrington.

Notice of Death – August 30, 2018

Notice of Death 2017

 

WINN PARISH:

Perlene Ball
August 27, 2018
Arrangements TBA

SABINE PARISH:

Delmer William “Dick” Mitchell
March 31, 1931 – August 28, 2018
Visitation: Thursday, August 30 at 5 pm at Friendship Baptist Church
Service: Friday, August 31 at 2 pm at Friendship Baptist Church
Interment: Friendship Baptist Cemetery

RED RIVER PARISH:

Jeanette Lucille Melanie Pardue
December 31, 1935 – August 23, 2018
Service: Saturday, September 8, 2018 at 10 am at St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Meyersville, TX
Interment: St. John Lutheran Cemetery

New sign welcomes visitors to Natchitoches: Home of Northwestern State University

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Workers installed a new welcome sign coming into Natchitoches from I-49 today, Aug. 30. Last Spring, NSU’s Student Government Association sent a Resolution to Mayor Lee Posey and the City Council expressing the student’s desire to see “Home of Northwestern State University” added to the sign.

“The students wanted this change because we believe that the University is a huge part of Natchitoches,” said SGA President Jacob Ellis. “The new sign means a lot to the students at NSU. It really makes us feel that the City and the University are united! We love to see the city supporting the students at NSU!”

The old welcome sign was deteriorating and needed constant maintenance, so the timing was just right. Gold leaf will be added to the fleur de lis on the sign over the weekend. Colored landscaping flowers will be placed around it until a permanent plan can be developed. Everything should be finished in the next few weeks.

Bus involved in crash on Posey Road

School Bus

A Natchitoches man, 59-year-old Floyd Bynog, an employee of the Natchitoches Parish Government, was cited for speeding after he was involved in a crash Aug. 29 at 4:20 pm on Posey Road at Old Bethel Road with a school bus driven by John L. Blankenship, 31 of Natchitoches. The bus was loaded with kids. Louisiana State Police troopers reported minor injuries.

Driving is Sometimes an Adventure — and I Don’t Mean a Good One

By Joe Darby

joedarbyI think it’s inevitable that as I progress — if that’s the correct word — deeper into geezerhood, I am becoming more of a stodgy driver.

Now, I am not yet one of those pawpaws who drive 31 miles an hour in a 45 mph zone, and I hope I never will be.

But I take care to come to full stops at stop signs, I try not to run yellow lights (although that is sometimes impossible to avoid) and I rarely drive more than 75 on the interstate.

And there are lots and lots of other cautious, sensible drivers out there too. But there are some others, who, well, as a psychiatrist would say, pose a danger to themselves and others.

Mary and I were driving up I-49 not too long ago, with medium to light traffic around us when all of a sudden I spot a motorcyclist in my rearview mirror, quite a distance away. I first picked him up in my vision when he swerved from behind an 18-wheeler. He was probably 300 yards or so behind me at that time.

Well, within almost literally no time, he was up with me and a couple of more vehicles in my immediate area. He (or it could have been a she, although likely not) was switching lanes like mad. There was another 18-wheeler about 20 feet behind me in the passing lane and the Mad Max cyclist weaved in between the truck and me, missing my Challenger by no more than a foot or so as he sped on his way.

The guy had to have been doing 110, at least, because I was doing my customary 75 and he passed me like I was standing still. Within seconds, he was out of sight up the interstate. As he nearly sideswiped my car, I let loose with some expletives that I’m deleting and for once Mary did not reprimand me for my salty language.

The guy either had a death wish or he was really stupid because the biggest danger he was posing was to himself. If he had sideswiped us, I’m fairly confident that I could have maintained control and come out of it okay. That is, unless he had bounced off the 18-wheeler and pancaked directly in front of my car. I imagine rolling over a motorcycle at 75 could have caused some serious problems.

But my point is, if he had lost control at 110 or whatever speed he was doing, the concrete bed of the interstate would not have been very kind to him.

I kept expecting — and to be honest hoping — that as I rode on, I would have seen a police officer preparing to arrest him on the side of the road. But the way he was driving, he probably would have tried to outrun any police vehicle.

I would also not have been surprised to see him involved in a horrible wreck. As it turned out, we never encountered him again. And here’s the thing. Unless he was going somewhere involving a very grave personal emergency and his dangerous antics were a one-time thing, because he got away with his madness on the highway last week, he’ll probably feel himself more or less invulnerable and will continue to drive like that.

And of course he’s not the only person out there who loses all sense of safety when he’s behind the wheel, or in this case, behind the handle bars.

So, be careful, my friends. More than 30,000 Americans are killed in traffic accidents every year. That’s down from 50,000-something annually because today’s vehicles are so much better built. But still, when maniacs are on the road, all bets are off. Stay safe.

American Cancer Society Tribute of Hope: Randy and Becky Green

Randy and Becky Green
The American Cancer Society chose Randy and Becky Green as two of its 2018 Tributes of Hope. Randy and Becky Green met in Monroe, Louisiana, made Alexandria their home for many years while owning a local Pharmacy but now they have retired to Cane River. Both Randy and Becky have battled cancer, Becky being diagnosed in 1997 with breast cancer and Randy battled melanoma and renal cancer. Becky sought treatment at MD Anderson in 1998 where she met her “temporary family.” All of her life she would complain about having big crazy hair. During the summer of 1998, she was bald and living in an apartment in Houston seeking radiation treatment. “Be careful what you wish for” she said. Randy’s cancers were fortunately detected early and surgically removed. Randy said, “We should all tip our hats to the American Cancer Society, through their efforts to provide financial support to research, emotional an educational support for patients, the ACS has benefited untold numbers in the past and will continue to provide benefits to untold numbers in the future.

The Belles and Beaus on the Cane Gala will be held on September 15, 2018 at the Melrose Plantation beginning at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to join us for great Louisiana cuisine catered by Lasyone’s, a live and silent auction and you will dance the night away with Troy Marks No Idea. Most importantly, join us to recognize our very deserving honorees.