Provencal Elementary School Shows Some Positive Results at an NPSB Town Hall Meeting

Natchitoches School Board members Rev Steven Harris, Reba Phelps, Emile Metoyer, Russ Danzy and Billy Benefield joined Superintendent Dr. Grant Eloi at a town hall meeting held at Provencal School Monday, June 26. The Town Hall covered a wide range of subjects ranging from anti-truancy initiatives to Dual Enrollment Opportunities. Board President Benefield and the other board members present reported on the progress the system has made and their plans for the system’s future. 

First year principal Diana Curtis spoke of the students’ achievements. Provencal’s SPS rating is a solid B and the school is on the way to earning an A rating. Fully 100% of her faculty is certified.  Perhaps the most noteworthy achievement is in the area of K-3 literacy. The young men and women of Provencal Elementary School outscored both the district and the state in this critical area. 

Provencal ’s 450 students may take band classes as well as music and art classes. The school also hosts 4-H as well as a full range of clubs and activities for their students. The Provencal Panthers are a perennial force on the football field and basketball court as well as the base and softball diamonds.

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, the school system is starting an industrial maintenance 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”. The NPSB Career and Technical Advisor, Mr. Mike 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.

Natchitoches Central High School currently has 17 students who scored 30 or above on the ACT, a bottom-line indicator of quality. 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. The Natchitoches Parish School system has greatly improved over the past few years and is heading in an exciting direction.