Educators excited about school year

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 23, 2002


LUTCHER – There are always opening-week kinks in any major operation, and the opening of schools in St. James Parish had a few.

Dr. P. Edward Cancienne, superintendent, felt the first days have gone well, even with the air conditioning out in the new Grades 7-8 wing at Lutcher High School. On the other hand, the new Science and Math Academy for seventh- and eighth-graders from across the parish, located at St. James Junior High School, is going great guns, with enthusiastic teachers and eager students.

Cancienne was swamped with calls on his cellular phone, as he talked to teachers here, parents there. Meanwhile, work progressed on the career and technology center in the old Lutcher Elementary School, another program which the superintendent is using to steer the school district into a more success-oriented program, part of his “Blueprint for Better Schools.” The Science and Math Academy, under the supervision of Elvis Cavalier, has only four teachers, but a small cadre of committed students and their parents, all bound together in a partnership for progress.

“This was something badly needed,” Cavalier said. With a student-teacher ratio of 15-to-1, teachers can focus on the educational issues and rein in behavior problems before they worsen. “Parents were just wild,” Cavalier said from the orientation program held Aug. 13. “Just about every parent volunteered to help in some way.”

Seventh-grade math teacher Helen Martinez commented, “You can teach so much more with these resources.”

Angie Laiche, eighth-grade math teacher, added, “The children are motivated by the resources, enough to make a difference.”

Laura Greco, eighth-grade science and social studies instructor, added, “This is the way of the future. We’re immersing kids in technology now, which will help them so much more later.”

Seventh-grade science and social studies teacher Sylvia Beard concluded, “In one word, heaven! I’m doing some of the same things here, but I have more to do it with.”

Contrasting this with Lutcher High School, where a clogged air conditioning coil had seventh- and eighth-graders, some of them hulking 15-year-olds, sweltering in the classrooms.

Some students had already given up trying to pay attention to classwork.

But the A/C is due back on line by now, and it’s a new school year, and it is time to go to work.