Twelve students invited for LSMSA admission after completing EXCEL Program

This summer, the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) completed its 20th year of EXCEL, a special four-week summer program for new students to improve foundational skills and prepare students for success in the school’s rigorous courses. Twelve students were invited for admission into the Louisiana School for the fall of 2022.

The EXCEL Program was created in 2003 following concerns that the LSMSA educational experience was not available to students from under-resourced rural and inner-city schools. Modeled on the federal Upward Bound program, EXCEL identifies potential students who might otherwise fall below the line in the LSMSA admissions process. Each year, students with high GPAs (motivation) but lower than normal standardized test scores for admission (knowledge gaps from an under-resourced home school) are invited to participate in the intensive four-week summer bridge program.

EXCEL students undertake a rigorous academic schedule that mimics a normal LSMSA schedule. They complete non-credit coursework in critical writing, science, visual arts, math, mindfulness, critical reading, and college planning /test preparation. Students also had access to the school’s gym and fitness center, volunteered at the Cane River Food Pantry, learned about the significance of Juneteenth with a visit to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, and traveled to Shreveport’s R.W. Norton Gallery, where instructors connected what students viewed in the gallery to course content.

Faculty and staff leading EXCEL courses were Dr. Jason Anderson, Kim Cain, Co Ceaser, Chris King, Dr. Jocelyn Donlon, Dr. Kelly Lankford, Bonnie Rutledge, Katie Summerell, and Erykah Wells (’16). Teaching assistants included LSMSA and EXCEL/STEMrichment alums Sebastian Guerrero (‘18) of Houma, Izzy Nguyen (’20) of New Iberia, Marissa Ramsey (‘17) of New Iberia, and Dylan White (‘20) of St. Martinville.

EXCEL students collaborated with students in the STEMrichment program to learn team-building skills by solving elaborate escape room-style puzzles designed by Randy Key. The annual EXCEL banquet was held at Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant to celebrate students’ success in the program.

“We are thrilled to graduate another cohort of EXCEL participants,” said Dr. Jason Anderson, LSMSA Lecturer of Biology, EXCEL director, and Board of Directors faculty representative. “The motto on the school’s crest is Praecellemus, which means ‘We shall excel.’ Students from this class who will attend LSMSA have certainly shown their aptitude for excellence and resilience, and we look forward to their future achievements, personal growth, and communal contributions.”