Students ring in new school year

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 19, 2002


LAPLACE – “Dinosaurs are extinct,” a second-grader at St. Joan of Arc School told veteran teacher Margaret Cerami Thursday on the first day of the new school year. “I learned that from TV.”

“When dinosaurs die, when the rain comes down they go underwater and they are covered by dirt,” another student said, attempting to explain fossil fuels to the class. The discussion of dinosaurs is the first unit second grade students in Cerami’s class will discuss – and the students are full of curiosity and anticipation.

This week marked the first days of class for all St. John the Baptist Parish schools, both public and private, and already books are open and academic work is beginning.

“We are planning to learn more new words in reading and we are getting ready to receive the sacraments and first communion,” Cerami said. “They are going to learn to write in cursive and they are going to learn to be kind and loving to each other.”

Cerami and other teachers at St. Joan of Arc School have a number of new in-class learning tools to give students more hands-on experience this year. While most of the students at the LaPlace school said they were glad to be back to school, some students were less than thrilled about it. Jordan Tamplain, 10, said school is boring and he was not ready to start. It is math he dreads most.

Most public school students in the parish started classes Tuesday. There are between 550-600 kindergartners who will attend class next week.

Six-year-old twins Troy and Tre Deggs started first grade at Glade School for the first time Tuesday. The boys attended school in St. Charles Parish last year. Their grandmother said so far they seem to prefer Glade School.

“I like school,” Troy said, kneeling in the grass. “But I like catching bugs better.”

Troy said he wants to be a fireman some day and Tre said he wants to be a policeman.

St. John Parish Schools Superintendent Michael Coburn said the first week of school went smoothly at all locations, despite some minor problems with transportation.

“The only real problem was buses and that is something that happens every year,” Coburn said. “We have had a two principals trying to do some new procedures in dismissal and that has caused some problems getting from point A to B to C quickly. Also, for the fist time we have parochial schools riding with other school kids and that has caused some delays – not a discipline situation, just timing. And we also have a couple of new bus drivers.”

Traffic created by parents picking up students at local elementary schools has also caused some minor problems at schools with limited parking.

“At LaPlace Elementary and John L. Ory we have had long lines of cars picking up students,” Coburn said. “At one of those schools we are looking at possibly allowing parents to do a ‘bus route’ type procedure, picking up kids at the front and circling the building to exit.

“We are tweaking everything to work these things out.”

The education process has started well, with teachers on schedule academically. The Success Academy for seventh- and eighth-graders opened this week and garnered high praise from parents and administration.

Two big goals for St. John Parish Public School System this year are to increase enrollment and get parents involved.

As of the third day of school, about 5,200 students were enrolled in public schools around the parish. This represented more than 127 students from the total at the same time last year. There are some students, currently without uniforms, that schools will work with to bring into the system soon.

A newsletter and large banners printed with the new slogan “Surround Our Children with Support” will help kickoff the parental involvement campaign, Coburn said.