Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 24, 2005

{fonttblf0fswissfcharset77 Helvetica;}




f0fs24 cf0 Judge Becnel offering CHARM school


Staff Reporter

RESERVE ‘d0’d0 The Golden Rule of Manners: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you, now has new meaning to a group of young St. John Parish ladies who have attended C.H.A.R.M School.

Judge Mary Hotard Becnel of the 40th Judicial District Court teamed up with St. John the Baptist Parish School Board Personnel Director Ann Laborde, LaPlace Elementary School Teacher Laurie Francois and Families in Need of Services (F.I.N.S.) Coordinator Maggie Robert to organize C.HA.R.M. School, which stands for Character, Health, Attitude, Respect and Manners.

The spring 2005 session started in March and ran through this month. The classes were held once a month at the St. John Parish School Board meeting room in Reserve.

‘d2CHARM School is for two different groups of girls,’d3 said Becnel. ‘d2Either they have appeared in court for an offense, like fighting or disruptive behavior, or come from a troubled family environment, for example runaways.’d3

Becnel stated that she came up with this idea after years of seeing these girls in court and thinking to herself, ‘d2these girls need CHARM School.’d3 She said something needed to be done about it and decided she could and would provide this opportunity.

‘d2I put together a proposal,’d3 said Becnel. ‘d2I then contacted Ann, Laurie and Maggie. We structured the classes to where I would be in charge of the basic etiquette like manners and what it means to be a lady, Ann would do conflict resolution through interactive demonstrations, Laurie would be the motivational speaker and Maggie would line everything up and contact the girls.’d3

According to Becnel Laurie has a program at LaPlace Elementary called Girls with Good Attitude, which is like a smaller version of CHARM School.

The class age range is from 10 to 17 years old and their mothers/guardians are required to attend at least one class.

‘d2At least half of the parents continued to show up for the classes,’d3 said Becnel. ‘d2The girls need the support of their parents to reinforce what we teach, at home.’d3

At the end of the course the all the girls receive a certificate for completing the course of becoming a young lady.

‘d2At the last class we gave out their certificates,’d3 said Becnel. ‘d2We also gave each girl a ladybug charm on a pin to help her remember to be a lady.’d3

Becnel said the girls voted on who would receive the certificate for Most Ladylike, most participation and well-completed assignments.

At the end of the course the girls were given a two-page questionnaire on their likes, dislikes and whether or not they would come back to charm school ‘d0 more than half said yes, said Becnel.

The next set of courses will be held this fall. Becnel said she would like to eventually make CHARM School open to the public.

‘d2I think it would be wonderful to have a class like this offered in the schools,’d3 said Becnel. ‘d2This could be done through orientation early on in the school year or even as an extra-curricular course.’d3