The Ben D. Johnson Educational Center will participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration’s March for Justice and Peace, organized by the City of Natchitoches and the Northwestern State University Center for Inclusion & Diversity.

On January 18th at 11am, marchers will assemble at the NSU Campus on the corner of University Parkway and Caspari street. The march begins at noon and ends at the Legacy Café where lunch will be available for purchase.

The purposes of this march are to recognize the works of Dr. Martin Luther King, and promote justice and peace in the community. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” Participation in this march speaks to the BDJ Centers commitment to the pursuit of justice and peace for all in the City of Natchitoches.

On Monday, January 18th, The Ben D. Johnson Educational Center is re-opening the Legacy Café located at 441 North Street. The Café is the social enterprise business of the Ben D. Johnson Educational Center and the hands-on training environment for participants in the Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program. The LYWDP serves young adults ages 17-24 who are out of work and school. Participants learn culinary and life skills while receiving support in removing barriers from their path to successful employment. The next cohort is being recruited and classes are scheduled to start in February.

Claire Prymus, Founder and Board Chair, “We are pleased to support young people in Natchitoches as they build life skills and pursue sustainable employment. We appreciate all the support from the community to keep these programs going.”

Natchitoches Parish Technical and Career Center: Testing Letter

Dear Parent/Guardian,

Your child is expected to participate in Leap 2025 state testing. Leap 2025 is a standardized test required by the state for students to test in grades 9th-12th. If your child is in an English, Algebra, Geometry, U.S. History, or Biology class, he/she will participate in testing. This test is NOT optional. Since your child is a virtual student, he/she will be testing January 15th, January 22nd, and January 25th. He/she will complete one test session per day. All tests will begin promptly at 8:00 AM, so it is very important for your child to arrive on time. Any student that is late will not be allowed to interrupt testing once it begins. It is also imperative for students to put forth their best effort as the results directly affect their possibility for graduation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call to the school.

Thank you,

Bobby Benjamin
NPTCC Principal

Stephanie Sewell
NPTCC Testing Coordinator

Chelsea Calhoun
NPTCC School Counselor

Natchitoches Lions Club supports Louisiana Lions Camp

Natchitoches Lions Club presented a check for $900 to the Louisiana Lions Camp. Pictured are Mimi Stoker, Executive Director of Lions Camp, Ray Cecil and Michele Waskom. Mimi and Michele are both members of the Natchitoches Lions Club and serve on the Board of Directors for the Camp. Lions Camp located near Leesville is a camp dedicated to the needs of handicapped children. Campers attend at no cost.

Resolve to Read

Habits. They are, for the most part, what make us or break us. What we have habituated in our lives takes a lot less effort to do and becomes an automatic part of it, meanwhile, we struggle to do those things we haven’t.

Take getting dressed, for example. While you might spend some time picking out what you will wear, more than likely it takes you less than a minute to put everything on. But think of all the steps involved, things we have not had to think about since our parents stopped dressing us… Make sure the clothes are right-side out. Pull your socks onto each foot. Put on your pants. Put on your shirt and button it. Tuck in your shirt and then fasten your pants. Put your belt through each loop, etc… You can see how this is much more involved than we usually think; yet, “putting on my clothes” and “complicated” would never be two things we would utter in the same sentence.

Over the course of our lives, we habitually get dressed thousands of times, and we don’t complain or think about it. So, what does this have to do with reading? Well, with the new year, many people will be trying hard to stick to their resolutions, and cognitive health is just as important as the physical goals often set. And the best way to exercise our minds will involve reading of some sort. To meet those resolutions, without draining our will power and focus, we will need to habitualize the changes we want to see in our lives. The new year is traditionally when we look at what the last year held and say, “This is what I’m going to work on; where I want to be in the future.” Reading will expose you to new ideas and information, other people’s thoughts put into words, and let you be anywhere your mind takes you. Reading gives you the resources you need to change from within. Whether you want to escape from reality, learn more about your present, or our collective past, the Natchitoches Parish Library (NPL) has something for you. Would you join the NPL and make a commitment to read in 2021? It doesn’t have to be anything big either! You could shoot for 10 minutes every other day, 30 minutes each evening, a chapter a week, or a number of books in a year. Whatever works for you. And yes, reading to your kids counts!

The whole point is to pick something that will encourage you as you succeed and to provide some mental enrichment during these stressful times. 2020 is over, and while we wait for the changes time will bring in the new year, let us commit to reading and make it a habit to use our minds for the things we want, taking control of the things we can, and learn something new along the way. Make reading (or listening to audiobooks) something you do without thinking, and your life will be better for it.

Want to know more about making changes that stick? Check out “The ONE Thing,” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, available now on Hoopla. All you need is an NPL card and you can download the audiobook, free.



St. Mary’s Catholic School’s Virtue of the Month for December was Joy. Students from St. Mary’s Catholic School chosen, on front row from left, are Addison Poskey, Vivian Philen, Hayes Harrington, Ava Harper and Asher Hale. On middle row are Cade Solari, Truc Huynh, Sam Deen and Justin McKnight. On back row are Chalin Gandy, Jayd Linebaugh and Lilly Boyd. Not pictured are Malorie LaCaze, Peyton Mitchell, Rachel Walls, Clary Smiley, Jaydyn Jackson and Jessi Lucky. Congratulations to these students!

NSU offers discount on real estate continuing education courses

With the arrival of the New Year it’s a good time for those in the real estate field to get ahead of required real estate continuing education courses.

Northwestern State University’s Office of Electronic and Continuing Education in partnership with The CE Shop is offering 30% off all continuing education courses through the end of January. Enroll today, by visiting and use the promo code JUMPIN to save while finishing your requirements early.

Northwestern State postpones Spring 2021 events

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University has postponed several events planned for Spring 2021 in ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

“With the recent extension of the modified Phase Two order to slow the spread of Covid-19 in Louisiana, we continue to take precautions at the university in the best interest of the health and safety of the NSU community.  In doing so we must, unfortunately, postpone several events planned for the spring 2021 semester,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio.

Flavor of Louisiana and Golden Jubilee Celebrations for the classes of 1970 and 1971 will be rescheduled.  Other events will take place in conjunction with Homecoming festivities. The Long Purple Line luncheon and induction ceremony for the class of 2020 will take place Oct. 22 and the N-Club Hall of Fame induction program for the class of 2020 will take place Oct. 23. The Greek Centennial Celebration has been reset for Oct. 22-24 with nominations for the 100 for 100 open through May 31. 

“Last fall, our staff optimistically set dates for Spring 2021 events in the hopes we would be able to welcome our supporters to campus and celebrate several popular traditions,” Maggio said.  “Logistics for large events take months of planning and because of the uncertainty of where we may be as a state and nation, we made the proactive decision to postpone those events.” 

Although some printed materials, including a forthcoming edition of Alumni Columns magazine, feature invitations to Spring 2021 events, Maggio advised readers that plans have changed since those materials were submitted for publication.

“Information that was prepared this past December is already in circulation,” Maggio said. “We had hoped to move forward with spring programs, but feel the safest course is to postpone gatherings until the spread of COVID-19 is no longer a dangerous public threat.”

Alumni and friends will receive communication as events are rescheduled. 

“Decisions that affect the health and safety of the NSU community are not made lightly and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our supporters as we continue to navigate through uncertain times,” Maggio said.

Up-to-date information will be posted and on the university’s social media channels as it becomes available.

Notice of Death – January 17, 2021

Deacon George Harris
January 15, 2021
Service: Saturday, January 23 at 1 pm at the Greenville Baptist Church in Clarence

Carolyn Jones Jackson
January 15, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Rebecca Walker
January 15, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Ryan Matthew Braud
July 05, 1983 – January 12, 2021
Service: Tuesday, January 19 at 11 am at the Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home

Rodney P. Hoover of Natchitoches, Louisiana
June 28, 1967 – January 16, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Phillip Lyons
January 13, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Brandon Bernard McHenry
December 7, 1988 – January 13, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Troy Vascocu
April 16, 1926 – January 07, 2021
Service: Monday, January 18 at 11 am at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home

Sue Lowe
March 05, 1947 – January 15, 2021
Service: Monday, January 18 at 11 am at Southern Funeral Home

Northwestern State starts indoor season Saturday at Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Northwestern State’s spring season officially kicks off Saturday when the men’s and women’s track and field teams head to Texas A&M for the Ted Nelson Invitational, the first indoor meet of the season. 

Around 40 student-athletes will participate in their first competitions since the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the outdoor track season and the NCAA Indoor Championships. 

Senior jumper Jasmyn Steels was in line to defend her national title in the indoor long jump this past March before those national championships were wiped away as well. 

Steels along other high profile seniors like sprinter Natashia Jackson, jumper LaTyria Jefferson and jumper Quindarrius Thompson won’t participate until the outdoor season, but NSU coach Mike Heimerman said this indoor season provides opportunities for other athletes to step in the spotlight. 

“(Competition) is why we do everything, and it’s exciting to compete again after almost one year off,” said Heimerman, who is beginning his eighth season as head coach and 24th overall on the NSU staff. “We have a very talented group of men and women, and we’re still a young team with lots of freshmen and juniors.  

“We’ve got a great mix of older and younger student-athletes and we’re excited to compete against high caliber opponents.” 

One unit that encompasses both ends of the experience spectrum is the women’s pole vault. 

Reagan Darbonne and Annemarie Broussard each share the program record mark of 13-9.25, which Darbonne cleared at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships to earn second-team All-America status. 

Add in Arkansas transfer Parish Kitto and freshmen Madison Brown and Karlyn Trahan, and the Lady Demons will be aiming for significant points. 

“Our practices are very competitive,” said Broussard, who made her record mark this past indoor season. “We have fun out there, but we push each other. 

“We all can win a conference title, and we’re out there pushing ourselves and pushing each other to do better so we can get on the podium and get those points for our team.” 

The Lady Demons have won the past three titles at the Ted Nelson Invitational, beating similar competition on the first day of the two-day meet. 

But COVID-19 has reduced the meet to one day, and NSU will face the top performers from Texas A&M and Arizona State along with UT Arlington and fellow Southland Conference members Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin. 

“We’re very fortunate that Texas A&M invited us to the meet after restrictions were put in place on indoor meets in terms of how many teams and participants can be involved,” Heimerman said. “We feel like we can mix it up with any of these opponents, and we look forward to that opportunity. 

“We’ve got three meets before the Southland Conference Indoor Championships and we’re fortunate to have that many opportunities. We’ll head down to LSU and then out to Texas Tech, and we want to put our kids in the best facilities.” 

NSU has made a name for itself in men’s sprints, putting a 4×100 relay team in the NCAA Outdoor finals in 2018. 

Juniors Tre’Darius Carr and Kie’ave Harry remain from that 4×100 team, and Carr said he can’t wait to get back on the track. 

“It’s going to be amazing after sitting out because of COVID-19,” Carr said. “Everybody has been putting work in and is supportive of one another. 

“We’re ready to go out there and have some fun.” 

Other leaders heading into the indoor season Southland Conference gold medalists Lauren-Ashley Clarke and Markeit Steverson. 

Clarke snatched gold in the triple and high jumps and Steverson captured the long jump title this past season in SLC Indoors. 

Lynell Washington took bronze in the 60 meters, setting a program record with a 7.44 in the SLC Indoor prelims. 

New standouts include sprinters Aarika Lister, Ebenezer Aggrey, Destine Scott, twins Alexus and Portia Harris among other incoming talent. 

“(Associate head coach) Adam Pennington has done a great job in recruiting, and we’ve got some super talented young people in the program,” Heimerman said.

Representative Marks First Year in Office

Gabe Firment is concluding his first year as a member of the Louisiana Legislature. This week he reflected on that first year.

Firment said, “One year ago today I was sworn in as District 22 State Representative. 2020 was a challenging year in many ways, but I never once doubted that God placed me in this position to serve the people and do HIS will.”

“It has been a true honor and privilege to serve the people of District 22 over the past 12 months,” said Firment. He added, “Thank you and God Bless!”

Southland Conference Shrinks

Northwestern State University President Dr. Chris Maggio said Thursday, Jan. 14, the departure of five schools from the Southland Conference “will create challenges but also opportunities for NSU’s athletic program.”

Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, Lamar and Abilene Christian officially announced this week that they will leave the Southland to join the Western Athletic Conference. Central Arkansas stated earlier that it would move from the Southland to the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Maggio, who will serve this year as Chairman of the Southland Conference Board of Directors, said the league “will retain eight highly respected current members and has initiated a process that will lead to future expansion of the conference.”

With the departure later this year of current members of the league for other affiliations, the Southland will be comprised of five Louisiana institutions and three Texas universities. Remaining in the Southland along with Northwestern will be McNeese, Nicholls, New Orleans, Southeastern Louisiana, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Incarnate Word and Houston Baptist.

Maggio said Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett and presidents, athletic directors and other personnel at conference schools – in collaboration with Eastman & Beaudine, Inc., a trusted and recognized leader in executive search and athletics consulting services – “have already laid the groundwork to expand, reimagine and enhance the Southland.”

He said league schools “are united and extremely proud of the brand, image and history of our schools and conference. We are excited about this new potential for growth and an even stronger reputation and impact on intercollegiate athletics in our geographic footprint and across the nation. Other schools are already expressing interest in membership.”

NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke said the university “has enjoyed and benefitted from its relationship over the years with schools that are leaving the Southland. Our conference affiliation with those institutions resulted in quality athletic competition and lasting friendships.”

Burke said membership shifts and realignments in college athletic conferences have been an ongoing occurrence nationwide.

“Membership transitions often allow for self-assessment as well as the opportunity to attract new members and, ultimately, land in an even better position of strength and stability,” Burke said.

He noted eight of the 13 current members of the Southland Conference have joined the league since 1987 when Northwestern became affiliated with the Southland and 10 other schools that were in the Southland earlier have moved to other conferences.

“That membership pattern reflects the resilience and adaptability of the Southland Conference since it was established nearly 60 years ago,” Burke said, “and all of us who remain in the league look forward to an even brighter future for the conference.

“We are fortunate to have an experienced, dedicated commissioner like Tom Burnett, and athletic personnel at our schools are eager to work with him, our presidents, consultants and others in moving toward expansion and a great new vision for the Southland.”

Goodness Gracious

By Tommy Rush

Snow flurries Sunday afternoon turned into snowflakes Sunday night and a snow day on Monday. Snow Days in Louisiana are pretty rare but when we get one, it brings out the kid in most of us. Sunday night my grandkids and their dad stood on the back porch for hours watching the snow fall. As I listened to them make plans for their snow day, I could see they were as excited as they were before going to bed on Christmas Eve.
Inside most of us is this kid who looks out the window at falling snow and hopes like crazy that school will be canceled. You may have graduated from school years ago, but I saw a lot of snowmen on my street this week. I also saw several adults having as much fun as their children sliding down the hill behind First Baptist on cardboard boxes and pool floats Monday afternoon.

In the Bible there are numerous scriptures that make reference to snow. In Job 38:22 God asked Job, “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of hail?” Basically God was asking Job if he had considered the storehouse of wonders in something as simple as a snowfall. There’s actually some great lessons to learn. I think that was actually what the poet Robert Frost was getting at when he wrote the poem, “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The poem describes the thoughts of a lone traveler who paused his journey as night was falling to observe and think about the beauty of snow falling in the woods.

When we stop long enough to take in the beauty of a snow covered landscape, it can remind us that God is an awesome Creator. Few scenes make for a better picture than an old home place or countryside blanketed in snow. Do you remember the wonder you felt when you first learned that no two snowflakes are ever alike? In spite of the millions of snowflakes that cover the ground, not one of them are exactly like any other! What a beautiful reminder of how God loves to create beauty in diversity. Of the more than 7 billion people now living, not one of them is exactly like another! Every person is created in God’s image and yet each one is as unique as a single snowflake and just as amazing.

It is also interesting how fresh fallen snow makes everything look so clean and pure. Throughout scripture we are told that one of mankind’s greatest needs is forgiveness. Deep down we all long to have a clean and pure heart. Isaiah 1:18 tells us that though our sins are as scarlet, if we turn to God for forgiveness He will make our hearts whiter than snow. God’s forgiveness cannot be earned only received as a gift. It changes everything just like the snow that comes down from heaven!

I hope you took some time last Monday to build a snowman or throw a snowball, but if not, I hope you looked out the window and at least considered the awesome beauty of God’s snow.