Natchitoches School Board members Rev Steven Harris, Reba Phelps, Lela Harvey , and Billy Benefield joined Superintendent Dr. Grant Eloi and first year principal Carissa Davis in presenting a town hall meeting to a group of interested parents and teachers at L. P. Vaughn Elementary School Thursday, June 29.
The Town Hall covered a wide range of subjects ranging from anti-truancy initiatives to Dual Enrollment. While the children at L. P. Vaughn are a few years away from high school, getting this helpful information to parents and family members helps them prepare for the future.
Principal Davis began the meeting with an update of the considerable progress her school has made, especially in literacy, one of the key responsibilities of elementary education. L.P. Vaughn’s 617 students are performing admirably, exceeding the state average in reading scores for kindergarten and first grade. When the children are not working on reading skills and math, they take classes in music, art, and P.E. Parent participation has also grown, with over 450 families coming out to the school for parent nights.
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, 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”. Mr. Stewart comes to the school system with a wealth of real-world experience after retiring from a career at International Paper in Mansfield. Their years at L. P. Vaughn are preparing them well to take advantage of these opportunities when they arrive in high school in a few years.
The young men and women currently at L. P. Vaughn will be continuing a legacy of excellence. 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 a good direction.