Board wants new road built

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 4, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS – Staff Reporter

LAPLACE- Twenty-five students at LaPlace Elementary School have new friends this year, but they didn’t meet them in the traditional way.

The young ladies are members of the Girls With A Good Attitude Club, and their mentors are women from community businesses and organizations.

The club originated at the school in February 2000 and was developed to educate girls on the necessity of displaying a good attitude and self-respect.

“As a member of the support personnel at LaPlace Elementary, I noticed a need for unity and respect among students and teachers,” said club founder Laurie Taylor Francois. “My principal, Courtney Millet, afforded me the opportunity to institute this club.”

Original members consisted of fifth-grade girls. It then expanded to include fourth- and sixth-grade students. “Encouragement was the key to our beginning,” said Francois. “Each club member is to encourage each other daily, as well as a teacher.”

Currently, sixth- seventh- and eighth-grade girls are involved with the club.

When the school year ends, Francois hosts a formal Spring Tea. It is presented as a recognition to the girls for their persistence in displaying a positive attitude throughout the school year. “It also serves as an excellent opportunity to teach formal etiquette skills and appropriate communication skills among the girls and adults,” said Francois.

Part of the club’s program

(See Mentors, Page 9A)

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includes a partnership with mentors from the community.

Attorney Carolyn Patrick is paired with eighth-grade students Mai Leon and Kimberly Keller this year.

Patrick and the other mentors visit with their girls once a month during the girls’ recess time.

The special time they spend together does not have to cover any specific topics, nor is it scripted in any way. “Our conversations are off-the-cuff.” said Patrick. “We talk about things like goal-setting, and they relate school experiences.”

Mentor Valencia Green is visiting with students Jessica Pecquet and Brittany Galvez this year.

Their times together are also spontaneous, according to the trio. “She (Green) is teaching me to be me,” Brittany said of her mentor. Jessica goes one step further in describing Green. “She is helping us with life skills.”

Mentor Ellen Ishmael said there is definitely a mutual benefit involved in the program. When she meets with Shambrika Townsend, she has the opportunity to get insight into the younger generation. And their conversations give Shambrika the opportunity to speak with someone objective, she added.

Francois has some future goals for the Girls With A Good Attitude program. One of those are to develop a mentoring program between club members and girls in the fourth and fifth grades.

This vision goes right along with the basic tenets of positive thinking and action, the core of the program. And the fact that school staff and administration supports the clubs’ efforts is a big plus.

Mentor Monica Brown, who is paired with students Casey Stephan and Brittanyshia Morgan, feels the program is advantageous to all areas of the girls’ lives. “This is like a family,” she said of the program. “And the school is a wonderful support system,” she said.

The girls are keeping a journal of their times with their mentors. They will share these with Francois at the end of the school year, and also send personal thank-you notes.