WSJ working to be Priority One School

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 6, 1999

L’Observateur / March 6, 1999

EDGARD – It was a combination of planning, long hard hours and teamwork which brought West St. John High School to the state championship infootball this year.

That same spirit and work ethic may well make it a “STUDENTS: Priority No. 1 School.” Between four and seven regional high schools will be chosenby Metro Vision as a Priority One School, and each will be awarded a $45,000 grant to aid in the school’s strive for excellence.

This competition is known as “The Promise and the Challenge,” an initiative of Metro Vision and an outgrowth of the superb School to Career efforts at work in Louisiana’s public high schools.

“Priority One is designed to assist in a ‘whole-school change’,” Sue Burge, director of Metro Vision’s School to Career initiative, explained. “We wantevery student to have the chance to participate in programs that involve career pathways. We are seeking Rigor in curriculum, Relevance for thestudents, Relationship building among schools and communities and Results.”Each of the 21 high schools that complete the training processes and an action plan for entry will receive a minimum grant of $1,000 to help in their efforts. Those four to seven schools chosen as STUDENTS: PriorityNo. 1 Schools will receive $15,000 per year for a three-year period.”The Promise and the Challenge” was given to high schools from the seven-parish area served by Metro Vision in early December. The Promisewas to provide training and grant dollars to each of the selected schools.

The Challenge is for each competing school to provide an outstanding action plan of how the dollars will be spent. Twenty-one schools acceptedthe Challenge. Four to seven of them will realize the full Promise. WestSt. John High School is working hard to be among them.Competing schools are required to host a series of workshops to provide staff, students and community members a role in developing their action plan. Three West St. John teachers are spearheading workshops, currentlyunderway.

“We have held two workshops so far,” teacher Chermaine Roybiskie said.

“Our first project was to develop a history of West St. John High SchoolEveryone contributed memories and information. “Next came our ‘Vision’workshop. That was where we looked forward and developed a vision listor set of wishes for our school’s future.”Linda Bailey, also a West St. John teacher, is another of the threeworkshop organizers.

“Many of the students were there for the first workshops. In fact amajority of our strongest visions came from the students themselves.”Roybiskie, Bailey and a third teacher, Therese Favorite, will lead three more workshops before their action plans are complete and ready to submit to Metro Vision.

“On March 11, we will hold two more workshops,” Roybiskie said. “We arecalling the first workshop, ‘Contradictions.’ In Contradictions, we will askthe community to help list every roadblock or objection they can dream of that would prevent us from reaching the visions we listed earlier.””After a short break, we will conduct a follow-up called ‘New Directions,’ Bailey added. “In that workshop, we will take the roadblocks we justlisted and find solutions for each one of them.” Every member of the parish is invited to attend the workshops on March 11. They will meet at 6 p.m. In the school’s cafeteria. The final workshopwill be announced at a later date. At that time, the actual plan of actionwill be drafted.

“We have set May 3 as the deadline for submission of action plans,” Burge explained. “We will then begin a series of school site visits.”The final winners will be announced June 3 and a handful of area high schools will be designated as a STUDENTS: Priority No. 1 School. Withdogged determination and the usual family support atmosphere of West St.

John High School, they are striving hard to be one of them.

“With the STUDENTS: Priority No. 1 School initiative, we are seeking tomake the students’ education more meaningful,” Roybiskie. “We want amore rigorous curriculum and one that is more relevant to what is going on. The kids want this too. The kids are very up on what they expect fromtheir school.”

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