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Noel: Parents were told about move

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / April 10, 1998

LAPLACE – Last April the St. John the Baptist Parish School board approved that John L. Ory Elementary become the parish’s next magnet school.

This April the board approved the type of magnet school it will become, following the magnet committee’s recommendation to have one less grade at the school. Seventh-graders still attending public schools will either go to the Glade School or Leon Godchaux Junior High beginning in the fall, leaving kindergarten through sixth-graders at the soon-to-be John L. Ory Communication Arts Magnet School with more room for a library and other activities.

Currently the school’s library is home to a third grade class.

“I would like nothing better than to keep my children that will be in the seventh grade – even keep them until the eighth grade,” Principal Teri Noel said. “But we felt we had to do what was best for the school as a whole to help our school grow and meet everyone’s needs. We need to open our library and have it fully functioning.”

When the school opened the library was built, but the funds weren’t there to add books. Now funds are available and the school has already prepared for the stocked library, buying about 1,000 new books this school year.

Noel said no parents of future seventh-graders have called to complain about the switch.

“I had prepared them,” she said. “They knew the administration and staff were recommending this.”

Noel said teachers were surveyed in December to see how they felt about the seventh-graders not returning.

“The teachers really felt that at this educational level the seventh grade was difficult to manage,” she said.

The school is already having a difficult time scheduling the sixth- and seventh-graders’ class time, she added.

Noel said they are trying to mesh together the sixth and seventh grades, although they each require different amounts of time for the same subjects.

Seventh grade requires 55 minutes of instructional time a day for each subject, whereas sixth grade requires a different amount of time for each subject. Noel said sixth-graders are required to have 60 minutes of math a day; 120 minutes of language arts, which serves as reading and English; and 45 minutes of science and social studies.

“To accomplish this scheduling and offer pre-algebra and French we had to do some very creative scheduling,” Noel said. “And it seems like every year it gets a little more difficult.”

Noel hopes a decision can be made soon about selection criteria of next year’s students.

“We still are not real clear on that,” she said. “We have to follow what the grant requirements say. And the central office administrators and board members.”

Applications will be available “very soon,” Noel said.

She expects the school will have between 360 and 375 students in the fall compared to the current enrollment of 415. Of those 415, 54 are seventh-graders and 60 are sixth-graders.

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