Students at Lakeview deserve the best

That quote by Ms. Karla Renter, who just completed her first year as Lakeview Junior/Senior High School’s principal, summed up the atmosphere at the School Board Town Hall Meeting held at Lakeview Thursday, June 22. Natchitoches School Board members Rev Steven Harris, Reba Phelps, Chad Fredieu, Lela Harvey, and Billy Benefield joined principal Karla Renter and Superintendent Dr. Grant Eloi in addressing a wide range of subjects ranging from dual enrollment to SPS scores. Parish President John Richmond was also in attendance. 

Principal Renter began the meeting with an update of the considerable progress her school has made. Lakeview’s 350 students’ hard work has paid off in a number of areas. Most notably, the school has earned a B rating for the year, a superb achievement and a temporary waystation on the way to an A rating. 

From Air Force Junior ROTC, to sports, extracurriculars, and the classroom the Gator Nation is displaying excellence. The Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet of the year for the state of Louisiana is a Lakeview Cadet. The Lakeview Air Force Junior ROTC also earned a distinguished unit award as well as several wins in marksmanship competitions. The Lakeview Gator Band, under the direction of second year Band Leader Miles Schexnayder, has distinguished itself in state and district competition. From Powerlifting to Football, Basketball, Softball, Baseball, Danceline and Cheerleading, Gator coaches build young men and women on and off the field. Lakeview’s superb Boys’ Basketball Coach, Brian Williams, attends the first college game of every one of his young men who goes on to play in college. 

The district’s Dual Enrollment program is an incredible opportunity that Dr. Eloi and the board wish to make more well known. It is possible for a student in a Natchitoches public school to earn college credits up to an associate degree while still in high school. Board president Billy Benefield pointed out that parents can save the cost of up to two years of college. For those on TOPS, the student can use the two years saved to pursue a master’s degree using TOPS, an outstanding opportunity made possible by early college credit-at no cost to the student or their family.

For those looking for career opportunities not involving college, Mike Stewart, the system’s new Career and Technical Advisor, explained that the school system is starting an industrial manufacturing technology program in conjunction with the mills in Mansfield, and Red River as well as Roy O. Martin, Alliance, and Weyerhaeuser. They have agreed to hire students completing the program after graduation. The new graduates will begin their careers immediately after high school, having already completed a good deal of training and will be placed in jobs with full benefits paying well over $50,000.00 per year. The upcoming year will be the first for the program and will have an initial intake of 10 students. As board president Benefield stated, “the school system is looking to be an economic driver for the parish”. Mr. Stewart comes to the school system with a wealth of real-world experience after retiring from a 41 year career at International Paper at Mansfield.

Both NCHS and Lakeview offer the life changing opportunity of dual enrollment. In the case of the industrial maintenance program, they are the only two high schools in the state of Louisiana to offer that program. Lakeview and the Natchitoches Parish School system have greatly improved over the past few years and are heading in a good direction.