Rotarian with the Program Lance Lopez introduced Natchitoches Central High School (NCHS) Head Football Coach James Wilkerson at the Rotary Club of Natchitoches luncheon. Coach Wilkerson discussed the new NCHS football facilities and the present and future goals of the program. Pictured from left are Lopez, Wilkerson, and Aaron Johnson (Photo by Dr. Ron McBride).
The belief in guardian angels goes back thousands of years. The Bible mentions several instances in which God sent angels to protect or deliver people from danger. Guardian angels are believed to be able to take on any form and can embody any person at any time. Believers contend that guardian angels are all around us although they are usually unaware that they are guardian angels.
On December 9, 2021, Muskogee, Oklahoma had at least two known cases where a guardian angel stepped in to help. It happened first at an elementary school. A seventh-grade boy was standing by a water fountain holding a water bottle. Wishing to refill his bottle, the boy pushed the button to turn the water on while he held the bottle in his other hand. Rather than releasing the button to remove the lid, he removed the cap with his teeth. When he inhaled, the bottle cap slid down and lodged in his throat. In a panic, he stumbled into the nearest classroom and mouthed the words, “I’m choking. I’m choking.”
It could have been his last breath, but his guardian angel was waiting. The guardian angel sprang into action as if he were placed in the moment for that very purpose. He got behind the seventh-grader and performed the Heimlich Maneuver in a manner that would have impressed most doctors. His only experience with the life-saving technique was what he had seen on YouTube. With a couple of thrusts, the bottle cap shot out of the panic-stricken boy’s mouth. The boy took several deep breaths and thanked his guardian angel. Rather than glorifying the fact that he had saved someone’s life, he humbly returned to what he had been doing before the choking boy staggered into his classroom.
Later that day, a fire broke out in the back of a house in Muskogee. As if by divine providence, a guardian angel was on his way to church with a family member when he noticed smoke and flames coming from the house. He ran from the car toward the home. He knocked on the door and yelled to those inside that the house was on fire. Several people ran from the home while the guardian angel ran into the house. A disabled woman who required a walker to get around, slowly made her way toward the front of the house. Unfortunately, the fire was spreading more quickly than she could move. She was gasping for breath and struggling to walk. The guardian ran to her, put his arms around her, and quickly helped her escape from the flames. The guardian angel remained completely calm through the whole ordeal, which could have claimed his life as well. Had he been a few seconds later, the woman probably would have been consumed by the flames. Once he made sure the woman was safe, he returned to his car and continued on to church.
On a single December day in Muskogee, Oklahoma, the same guardian angel saved the lives of a choking boy and a disabled woman from a house fire. People referred to him as a hero, but he just replied that “it was the right thing to do.” For his life-saving deeds, the Muskogee Police Department and Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office named him an honorary member of their forces. He was also recognized by the Muskogee Public Schools Board of Education during their December board meeting. ‘I don’t want everyone to pay attention to me,” he said. “I kind of did what I was supposed to do.” This guardian angel was Davyon Johnson, an 11-year-old boy.
1. Medina, Eduardo. “A 6th Grader Saves the Lives of Two People On the Same Day.” The New York Times. December 26, 2021. nytimes.com/2021/12/26/us/davyon-johnson-student-saves-classmate-fire.html.
2. Crane, Emily. “11-year-old Boy Saves Choking Classmate, Woman from Burning Home — All in One Day.” New York Post. December 23, 2021. nypost.com/2021/12/23/oklahoma-boy-saves-choking-classmate-woman-from-burning-home/.
Northwestern State University’s Office of Electronic and Continuing Education will offer “Cookie Decorating with Royal Icing for Beginners” starting Tuesday, Feb. 1.
The class will be held on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. through Feb. 22 in the Culinary Arts Building near the Friedman Student Union. The fee is $75.
“Cookie Decorating with Royal Icing” is a beginning class to learn some basic decorating techniques. This course will teach students how to make an amazing sugar cookie dough suited for shaped cookies and then explore different royal icing techniques such as dip tie-dye, outlining and flooding with single and multiple colors, and painting on royal icing. Students will be encouraged to express themselves creatively.
There is a $25 fee due at the first-class meeting (cash or check only made payable to the instructor). This fee will cover all ingredients needed in the course including cookies prebaked for some class dates, food coloring, paintbrushes, cookie cutters to be shared in the class and a set of three piping tips, a coupler, and a reusable piping bag for each student to keep.
For more information or to register for classes call (800) 376-2422 or (318) 357-6355.
POSITION: Finance Director – Finance Department
DESCRIPTION: Performs a variety of complex supervisory, professional, administrative and technical accounting and finance functions in maintaining the fiscal records and systems of the City. Will serve as chief financial advisor to the Mayor and prepare and maintain financial reports and records. Oversees payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, Utility Service Center, Information Technologies and Programming and Promotions Department.
QUALIFICATIONS: The successful applicant shall have graduated from an accredited four-year college or university with a degree in accounting or business related field. A working knowledge in Governmental Financial Accounting and GASB rules and regulations are required. An MBA or Certified Public Accountant is preferred.
CONTACT: City of Natchitoches, Human Resources Department located at 1400 Sabine Street, or P.O. Box 37, Natchitoches, LA 71458-0037. Applications may also be picked up upstairs at City hall, located at 700 Second St., or you may download an application on line at http://www.natchitochesla.gov
DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Applications will be accepted until filled.
THE CITY OF NATCHITOCHES IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER
The Goldonna Elementary-Junior High School is very proud to announce that they have graduated another class in the DARE Program. Deputy Hobley with the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office was on hand to congratulate the students and present them with a shirt for their success.
The Village of Goldonna is very proud to report that Killingsworth Road and Godwin Road are the beneficiaries of road resurfacing with the newly collected sales tax funds. Sales Tax collections began July 1, 2021 and all of the money is dedicated to road repairs. They have collected a little over $11,000 and it is being reinvested.
Mayor Jennifer Smith would like to thank the Natchitoches Parish Government for their efforts in assisting with the road repairs. “Crew members, Dustin Hightower and Marty Cheatwood have been really instrumental in coordinating the recent work.”
This past Sunday was one of the quietest Sundays in Goldonna history. All of the churches were closed, without live services, due to the rising cases of COVID. All three churches had a high number of illness and absences.
Pastor Timmy Harris from Goldonna Assembly of God wanted to share a few words of encouragement with the community.
“It saddens me to say the least, that no live services were held in the town of Goldonna due to seasonal illness and COVID. Please know, the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. Jesus is the one who declared it so and his promises are yes and Amen. My prayers are with all who are sick and or affected by COVID, this too shall pass.”
Goldonna Assembly of God will be having outdoor drive up church this Sunday January 23, starting at 11:00, all are welcome.
If you have news to share please email Reba Phelps at email@example.com
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced plans to release a program that will dedicate $26.5 billion to states for investments in bridge repairs and infrastructure. The Bridge Formula Program, made possible through the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will allocate federal funds over five years to rural and urban bridges that are in need of repair or rehabilitation.
Under this new program, Louisiana will receive approximately $1 billion over five years, with $202.6 million allocated this fiscal year. This funding is available to improve approximately 400 bridges in need of repair or replacement throughout the state.
“Louisiana will be well served by this program, as our funding needs for infrastructure projects are immense,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “I applaud the Biden administration for seeing the transportation needs of our nation, and state, by launching this investment program that will greatly aid our communities. Bridge closures or weight restrictions severely hinder our agriculture, manufacturing and service industries, as well a public transit, commuter travel and school bus routes. Limiting closures will provide a better overall quality of life to our residents, motorists and businesses.”
“This new federal investment comes at the right time as many of our bridges, including those on the interstate system, are 45 to 65 years old,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “The number of bridges falling into poor condition is expected to increase greatly in the coming years and this funding will allow us to make necessary improvements before these bridges deteriorate to the point of closure. Having shared bridge closures with the public for some time, no parish is exempt and problems exist on state and local bridges alike. I am looking forward to using more than the minimum established by USDOT to help locals address their needs as well. This bipartisan bill will allow the state to address many infrastructure needs in the coming years and I am grateful for the work that Senator Bill Cassidy and Representative Troy Carter put in to get this bill passed and for their vision of infrastructure improvement in Louisiana. “
Louisiana has the third largest bridge infrastructure in the nation when the number of bridges and bridge size is accounted for. Currently, there are 7,846 state owned bridges, with 795 needing major rehabilitation or replacement, and 4,736 locally owned bridges, with 793 in need of rehabilitation or replacement.
Some of the bridges projects that will advance this year due to this funding include:
· LA 485 Bridges near Allen Louisiana (Natchitoches Parish)
· LA 1226 over Bayou Chevreuille in Natchitoches Parish
Nationwide, the Bridge Formula Program is expected to help repair approximately 15,000 bridges. In addition to providing funds to states to replace, rehabilitate, preserve, protect, and construct highway bridges, the Bridge Formula Program has dedicated funding for Tribal transportation facility bridges as well as “off-system” bridges, locally owned facilities which are those not on the federal-aid highway system.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure, which will grow the economy, enhance U.S. competitiveness in the world, create good jobs, and make our transportation system more sustainable and equitable.
Bessie Kay Winn
Nov 19, 1978 – Jan 14, 2022
Service: Saturday, January 22 at 11 am at the North Star Baptist Church in Powhatan
Apr 8, 1954 – Jan 15, 2022
Service: Saturday, January 22 at 2 pm at the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel
Pamela Revels Johnikin
Jul 27, 1962 – Jan 15, 2022
Jan 18, 1968 – Jan 17, 2022
Mildred Louise Eckhardt McTyre
March 26, 1935 – January 4, 2022
Service: Saturday, January 29 at 11 am at First Baptist Church of Natchitoches
Melda McKay Pace
August 20, 1934 – January 10, 2022
No services are planned at this time.
By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
Northwestern State’s search for its new athletics director has wrapped up with North Carolina State graduate Kevin Bostian, a highly-accomplished fundraiser with senior-level administrative experience at several prominent Division I athletics programs, hired to take over for longtime AD Greg Burke, effective Feb. 7.
Bostian, 43, has spent the last two years at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as the executive associate athletic director for development. He previously worked at his alma mater’s athletic department as a major gifts officer, after revenue generation and management positions at Georgia Southern Tennessee Tech, East Tennessee State and South Alabama.
Bostian will be introduced in Natchitoches at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Friedman Student Union Ballroom on the NSU campus. Bostian’s hire, announced Tuesday afternoon, is subject to approval of the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System, which governs Northwestern State University.
Bostian becomes just the second NSU AD since 1983, succeeding Burke, who is taking a position as a university fund raiser after 25 1/2 years in charge of the NSU Athletic Department.
A 2000 magna cum laude graduate of North Carolina State in business management, Bostian earned his master’s of business administration and master’s of sports administration from Ohio University in 2002.
He and his wife, Megan, have three children, Ayla, Zoe and Piper.
“We are elated that Kevin will be joining the university as athletic director,” Northwestern State President Dr. Marcus Jones said. “He has impressive credentials and extensive experience in college athletics that will assist him in re-energizing NSU’s intercollegiate sports program and guiding it to new levels of success.
“He has a steadfast commitment to student-athletes and their accomplishments on and off the field, and Northwestern alumni, faculty and staff, and other stakeholders will appreciate his genuineness, enthusiasm, and spirit of collaboration. Kevin and his family will be a valuable addition to the university and community.”
The hire culminated a two-month national search spearheaded by Kyle Bowlsby, founder of Bowlsby Sports Advisors, the search firm that coordinated the process. An alumni-based advisory committee helped hone the candidate pool down to roughly 12 semifinalists and three finalists, who were interviewed on campus in the last 36 hours.
“Northwestern State University has hired an exceptional person in Kevin Bostian,” said Bowlsby, the 34-year-old son of Bob Bowlsby, one of college athletics’ most powerful leaders as commissioner of the Big XII Conference. “He is a transformational leader who will maximize the student-athlete experience and position the athletic department for long-term success. Kevin rose quickly on our list of potential candidates as someone who is passionate and driven to make his mark on the intercollegiate athletics landscape.”
Based on a press release from Northwestern State Athletics
Photo: Graphic by Northwestern State Athletics
By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
The national search for Northwestern State’s new athletic director could culminate as soon as today with an announcement of a hire to replace departing AD Greg Burke.
A field of about dozen semifinalists was pared to three finalists at the end of last week. On campus visits began Monday and the last one should happen this morning, the Journal has learned.
The search has been managed by an outside search firm, Bowlsby Sports Advisors. The process involved an alumni-based advisory committee, steered by search firm owner Kyle Bowlsby, which finished its work by helping trim the contenders to three last Friday. After their visits, new Northwestern president Marcus Jones will consider his choices and make a job offer.
None of the three unnamed remaining candidates have ties to Natchitoches or NSU.
Changing NSU’s approach for athletics became a priority for Jones, largely because the Demons have not had a winning football season since 2008 (7-5), coming close in 2013 and 2014 (6-6 both seasons). But in that span Northwestern suffered its first-ever winless campaign (0-11 in 2009 under first-year coach Bradley Dale Peveto) and Jay Thomas’ third NSU squad went 1-10 (0-9 in the Southland Conference) in 2016. The program’s last FCS playoff berth, along with the most recent conference championship, came in 2004.
NSU announced in mid-November that Burke would shift out of the AD’s office and into a university fundraising role. He is believed to be the longest-tenured Division I director of athletics in state history, having taken the post in late August 1996, and has a long list of accomplishments.
The announcement also cited a 6-8 week target for naming Burke’s successor. Assuming the search comes to fruition, that timeline will have been met. It’s anticipated that the new AD will need 3-6 weeks to relocate to Natchitoches and take over. It’s expected Burke will run the daily operations of the department until the new hire arrives.
While football has dipped, other sports at Northwestern have enjoyed high points and low ebbs over the last decade-plus.
Men’s basketball reached the NCAA Tournament for the third time under venerable coach Mike McConathy in 2013, played in postseason again a year later and won 19 games in 2014-15 before struggling in league play until the last two years.
Lady Demon basketball had NCAA Tournament trips in 2014 and 2015, and played in the WNIT in 2016, but hasn’t had a winning season since.
Baseball (2018) and softball (2014, 2015) have made NCAA appearances and the baseball team owns two recent wins at LSU. Track and field and Lady Demon tennis have been consistently strong over the last 12-14 years with NCAA success. Women’s soccer won the 2021 Southland crown and made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005, and the fifth in the 24-year history of the program.
Volleyball, which had never experienced a successful season in its first three decades, reached the 2014 NCAA Tournament and has been respectable since in the Southland.
Away from competition, NSU Athletics has maintained a sparkling record in NCAA academic performance, graduation rates, NCAA compliance, and community service. There have been no significant state legislative audit issues under Burke’s watch.
St. Mary’s Catholic School and the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Church, in partnership with the Women’s Resource Center, will host a March for Life on Friday, Jan. 21. The day will begin at 10 am with a Pre-Rally concert by the Josh Blakesley Band, followed by a Pro Life Rally with guest speakers at 11 am, and finish with the March at 1 pm. The March shall begin at the riverbank and continue to the rectory lawn of Immaculate Conception.
The Natchitoches March for Life will mirror and take place at the same time as the national March for Life in Washington, D.C. The national March for Life began in January of 1974. Every year, tens of thousands of pro life supporters march in support of life. This has become the largest human rights demonstration in the world. The national March for Life “is an inspiring, peaceful, vibrant, and joy-filled rally of women, men, young people, and children from all across the country.” Together, they “gather to celebrate life, from the moment of conception, to the moment of natural death, and every moment in between.” (See www.marchforlife.org).
Local marches began to occur in cities throughout our nation to further expand this celebration of life into our communities. In Louisiana, rallies occur in major cities during the month of January. This will be the first year for Natchitoches to host a rally and march. The public is invited to attend. If you are interested in becoming involved, please reach out to Jessica Spear (firstname.lastname@example.org), Lisa Guillet (email@example.com) or Jennifer Luna (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Martin Luther King Day weekend in Natchitoches saw a flurry of activities throughout the community to celebrate and continue the legacy of Dr. King. Saturday, January 15, kicked off the commemorations with a “Day of Service” in which NSU athletes, Greek and student organizations were joined by NSU President Marcus Jones, Mayor & Mrs. Williams in making our community a little better.
NSU athletes played games with children at the MLK Recreation Center. Students in NSU’s Helping Hands and African American Caucus cleaned up the city’s Highland Park. Other students packed warm coats and clothing and gift baskets for senior citizens.
The Ben D. Johnson Center’s community garden was also a center of activity and service Saturday. A large contingent of NSU student organizations ranging from sports teams to Greek organizations from every part of the university came together to work in the Legacy Garden and clean up the surrounding area.
What was all the more impressive about the day’s events was that the students led and planned the projects themselves. It was a joy to see young people of every race and background coming together to improve their, and our, community. Well done ladies and gentlemen!
Natchitoches’ second Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration March for Justice and Peace was held Monday, January 17. The march began at the Ben D. Johnson Center and extended to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Triangle Park. The marchers were led by members of NSU’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter. Dr. King was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, joining as a graduate student in 1952 at Boston College. The Alphas were joined by members of NSU Greek organizations. The NSU Chapters of the NAACP and African American Caucus also marched as did NSU head football Coach Brad Laird and the NSU football team. They were joined by fellow athletes from NSU volleyball and other sports teams. Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie Williams marched for the second year. The Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts brought a large contingent of students to the march and celebration. The march ended at the Dr. Martin Luther King Triangle Park where the brothers of NSU’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter placed a wreath at Dr. King’s memorial. For the second year in a row, NSU’s Lifted Voices Gospel Choir gave a truly impressive vocal performance. Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie Williams spoke of Dr. King’s legacy and accomplishments as did several local spiritual leaders. The main speaker was Darin Nixon, NSU NAACP President and NSU NPHC President. The event was organized by the City of Natchitoches, NSU and the Northwestern State University Center for Inclusion & Diversity.
Join the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum for the opening of “Carrying on the Dream”. The exhibition opens with a free reception on Friday, Jan. 21 from 5-7 pm. Libations and appetizers will be provided by FLASH and Raising Cane’s.
The University of Louisiana System’s Reginald F. Lewis scholars in partnership with Raising Cane’s are presenting a statewide tour of the exhibit “Carrying on the Dream” which features a rare display of the hearse that carried the body of prominent civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after his assassination in Memphis on April 4, 1968.
Todd Graves, founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s, led the preservation of the hearse and, through its exhibit, wants to remind Louisianians what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. contributed to society.
Speakers for the opening include Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie Williams, Reginald F. Lewis Scholars Derrick Varnado and Ebenezer Aggrey, NSU Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity member William Roberson, and Dr. Michael T. Snowden Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity at NSU.
The exhibition will be on display from Jan. 20-Feb. 5, 2022.
State regulations require masks in all state museums.
Please visit our website or call (318) 357-2492 for more information.
Free and open to the public.
With the cancellation of the 2021 parade the Krewe of Dionysos is excited to prepare for its upcoming Mardi Gras parade, which will roll through Natchitoches on Saturday, Feb. 26.
Anyone who would like to enter the parade can submit a participation form online at kreweofdionysos.com.
Questions can be emailed to KreweOfDionysos@gmail.com.
SALEM, Virginia – Northwestern State receivers Gavin Landry and Kendrick Price should have spent Sunday afternoon getting ready for the final football game of their college careers.
Instead, Winter Storm Izzy had other plans and accelerated the timetable for the pair of sixth-year seniors who were set to participate in Dream Bowl X, which was set for Monday at 11 a.m. CST.
“The game got moved up because of the snowstorm that was coming, and we ended up playing (Saturday) night,” Landry said.
Landry and Price were teammates again on the Crusaders squad, which fell 20-10 to the Patriots in a game that featured players from the FCS, NCAA Division II and III and NAIA levels.
The Demon pass-catching duo were the first NSU players to participate in the event since JeMarcus Marshall and Tuff McClain in 2017.
Landry and his family found out about the schedule as they were driving from Louisiana to Salem for the weekend, which originally was supposed to conclude with the noon kickoff on Martin Luther King Day. Mother Nature changed that and brought a slightly earlier end to Landry’s and Price’s time as collegiate competitors.
“It was a unique experience, and it was more challenging since the game was pushed up,” said Landry, who caught a team-leading three passes. “We had to adapt and overcome, which has been similar to my career. It was a fun experience, and I met a lot of great people. It was weird being so rushed, but I enjoyed it and made the most of it.”
Price was unable to play in the game after tweaking a knee during a practice, but he remained positive about his experience, especially being able to reconnect with Landry and former Demon teammates Stadford Anderson and Ricky Chatman.
“Me and Show (Anderson) had a moment on the sideline where I was cheering on the guys, and he looked at me and said, ‘Hearing your voice is crazy. We’re on the same team again,’” Price said. “Ricky had an interception. It was cool to share those moments with Gavin and Show and Ricky.
“It was good to be back in a competitive environment. I’d never been to Virginia before. I wish I could have played in the game, but I made the most of my opportunities in practice. We had scouts and coaches looking at us. Everything was cool, and I really enjoyed it.”
Photo: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services
BOM is proud to sponsor the new LSMSA basketball scoreboard project. Pictured: Haley Flynn, Abigail Huddleston, Kat Leblanc, Jordan Hoffman, Tum Tum Adeleye, Diamond Smith, Ashley Green, Aroma Chanda, Brandon Turner, Cami Wainwright, Samantha Dugan, Landry Tucker, Ali Mitchell, Joshua Gillett, BOM’s Claire Mayeaux and Lyn Christophe.
POSITION: Natchitoches Regional Airport – Part Time
DESCRIPTION: Assist the Airport Manager in the day to day operations including maintaining the Airport terminal and grounds, handle fuel drops and fuel sampling, trouble shoot mechanical problems on vehicles, lawn equipment, fuel pumps and other related equipment, fueling aircraft, moving aircraft in and out of hangars as needed, accurately keep fuel sales records and be able to handle other airport related activity. Must be able to work at least one weekend per month and early morning or late evening hours as needed.
EDUCATION: High School diploma or equivalent. Must be a licensed driver.
CONTACT: City of Natchitoches, Human Resources Department located at 1400 Sabine St. or P.O. Box 37, Natchitoches La 71458-0037. Applications may also be picked up upstairs at City Hall, located at 700 Second St., or you can download an application on line at http://www.natchitochesla.gov
DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Applications will be accepted until position is filled.
THE CITY OF NATCHITOCHES IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER.
Nov 19, 1978 – Jan 14, 2022
Pamela Revels Johnikin
Apr 8, 1954 – Jan 15, 2022
Jul 27, 1962 – Jan 15, 2022
Jan 18, 1968 – Jan 17, 2022
Mildred Louise Eckhardt McTyre
March 26, 1935 – January 4, 2022
Service: Saturday, January 29 at 11 am at First Baptist Church of Natchitoches
This past weekend, over 1,000 people attended Natchitoches’ first gun show, held Jan 15-16 at the Natchitoches Events Center. The attendees had over 80 tables featuring a range of knife and firearms vendors. While firearms were clearly the main focus of the event, there was also a popular craft vendor accompanying her husband who was selling ammunition and firearm accessories as well as a company selling rain gutter guards.
From antique military rifles such as a 1903 Springfield, M-1 Garand and M-14 to modern rifles and pistols, there was something for every taste and need. Whether you were shopping for personal protection or a scope to increase your chances next deer season, something was there for you at the Natchitoches Gun Show. There were also ample opportunities to learn and try out new equipment from the friendly and knowledgeable vendors.
The next Natchitoches Gun Show will be held at the Natchitoches Events Center May 7 & 8, 2022.
By Kevin Shannahan/Op-Ed
Say what you will about Dr. Eloi, he does not think small. Were I in my first year as superintendent of the Natchitoches School System, I would have chosen a less ambitious undertaking than a new high school in the parish, say achieving peace in the Middle East or cold fusion. That would have proven a far less daunting project by comparison.
While the prospective new high school seems to be on indefinite hold, one disturbing aspect of the controversy surrounding the proposal I have found unjust, underserved, and just plain wrong was the constant denigration of Natchitoches Central High School by the consolidation opponents. “I’ll never send my kids there!” proclaimed one rather overwrought parent at a school board meeting. That line drew murmurs of approval from the crowd. Her next statement, in which she flat out stated that her family would send their children out of district if consolidation passed garnered actual applause. She is far from the only parent I have heard express such an opinion. Notice she did not say she would move out of the parish, just that she would send her children to a public high school in a neighboring parish, one “…right down the road…”
Let me be absolutely clear. It is well within a parent’s rights to homeschool their children or send them to a private school. I am a kindergarten through high school alumni of the Catholic schools of the Syracuse, NY diocese. My parents made that decision for my brother and me at a considerable sacrifice of money and time. You are free to move to a district with what you believe are better schools. What you are not, or should not be, free to do, the district’s passivity on the subject notwithstanding, is send your child to a school outside of the parish while still a resident here. That is neither legal nor moral. You are also costing the district, and the taxpayers, a considerable amount of money.
This opprobrium directed towards NCHS, often tinged with barely concealed racism, is quite simply unwarranted. I have no ties to the public school system beyond that of a citizen and a taxpayer. What I am writing comes from over ten years of observation as a photographer and writer. It is also based upon years of observation of friends and acquaintances, all solidly members of the middle to upper middle classes, who have sent their children to NCHS.
Natchitoches Central High School is much better than its critics assume. From National Merit semifinalists to an award-winning orchestra, there is much about NCHS that regretfully escapes the notice of the wider public.
Over the 28 years I have lived in Natchitoches since leaving the Air Force, NCHS has produced each of the parish’s several National Merit Finalists or semi-finalists. Consistently placing students in the National Merit Scholarship competition is a nationwide standard of excellence. Our parish is nowhere near that standard, While there is considerable room for improvement, it should be noted that over the past 25 years, NCHS is where the parish’s National Merit Semi-Finalists and Finalists have come from.
Our community has a true gem in the NCHS Orchestra. This talented group of young men and women have toured Europe and have repeatedly performed in Carnegie Hall. The orchestra’s young musicians routinely win all-state honors. One of its alumni went on to earn a degree in music at NSU, is teaching at NCHS and helping with his former orchestra. Other orchestra alumni are succeeding in careers as varied as teaching, engineering, and the military. Music education, and the discipline of mastering an instrument, are valuable preparations for any endeavor.
Natchitoches Central High School’s reputation in certain areas of the parish as a crime ridden repository of ignorance is simply not borne out by even a cursory examination of the facts. NCHS students routinely score each year in the upper reaches of the ACT score distribution with several scoring in the 30’s. The school offers calculus and physics as well as a full range of gifted and talented services. NCHS alumni are succeeding in the military, workforce and in demanding majors in colleges across that state. The school is neither zoo nor Blackboard Jungle.