RESERVE - Louisiana A+ Schools announced Riverside Academy as one of the first seven schools chosen to represent the program on Tuesday evening during a special awards ceremony at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge.
LAA+ Schools was initiated by a partnership between the George Rodrigue Foun-dation of the Arts and the A + Schools Network. Louisiana A+ Schools is a research-based school network with a mission to nurture creativity in school children through arts-intergrated programs. The program is the
first of its kind in Louisiana.
Dr. Rhonda Perkins, the assistant principal of Riverside Academy, said the application process was rigorous, but her teaching staff was overwhelmingly supportive of taking on the initiative in their school. Perkins said it helped that the school already emphasizes the arts through its cultural festivals and music and theater programs.
“We were perfect, to me, to be chosen because we’re already so much into the arts. Our whole state’s economy is kind of dependent on art and culture. Here, we can begin planting these seeds so that our students will not only appreciate art, but will use it to benefit them and help make them better learners,” said Perkins.
“It’s been my experience that sometimes you have a student that hasn’t found his niche. But when you expose them to art and they achieve success and see that they have talent, it has the overriding of effect of their doing well throughout (school) because finally they see that they are successful. I’ve seen students turn around once their artistic talent has been discovered,” she continued.
Perkins said the staff of the school will attend a week-long seminar at Louisiana State University in June to receive training on how to intergrate arts into the curriculum.
“I was very proud to go up there and receive the award since we were one of seven schools in the state to receive it. It was a great honor,” said Riverside Academy Principal Dr. Perry Dicarlo. “Our overall goal is for our students to be well-rounded and prepared for college or their career.”
Dicarlo also said he hopes the training from A+ will help the school make the arts events they currently hold more cohesive.
The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts and Office of the Lieutenant Governor support the program and believe the method of learning will greatly improve the standard of education in Louisiana — according to existing research by program organizers, schools with arts-intergrated curriculums foster higher academic achievement, better attendance of both students and teachers, decreased discipline problems and stronger community involvement.
The other participating Louisiana schools are: The Dufrocq School, Baton Rouge; Grace Episcopal School, Monroe; Epiphany Day School, New Iberia; Homer A. Plessy Community School, New Orleans; Martin Behrman Academy of Creative Arts and Sciences: New Orleans; and South Highlands Elementary Magnet, Shreveport.