Local private schools swelling with displaced students

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 19, 2005

Many new arrivals are packing into area’s private, parochial facilities



LAPLACE — St. John Public schools are nearing to 1,400 new enrollments, but they are not the only ones making room. Private schools have also been rearranging to accommodate new students.

Riverside Academy has currently enrolled more than 60 new students and is continuing to get a calls.

“We have had hundreds of calls,” said Principal Heidi Tomeny-Duhe. “We have created some new sections to accommodate the new students. We didn’t want to overload the classrooms, but we wanted to offer the same education to the students that they were getting before the storm.”

With the new space availability, Riverside Academy is able to continue accepting new students. The process includes either calling, stopping by the office or emailing enroll@riversideacademy.com.

Reserve Christian has enrolled a total of 24 students and St. Joan of Arc has accepted 175 more students. Both schools are still accepting students, but there is limited space.

Boutte Christian Academy started back on Wednesday with a smooth, normal day.

“It was nice to come back and have a normal day of school,” said Administrator Kim Babineaux. “We are in a position where we want to accommodate as many students as we can in our area, as well as the displaced students. We are doing all we can to make the transition as smooth as possible. The community is welcoming the new students and their families. Our teachers are so generous they are taking care of their families and other families as well. It is nice to be a part of such a caring community.”

Babineaux said they have currently had only six displaced students on the first day back to school, but there will be more coming in over the next couple of days. BCA is still accepting applications for pre-school through eighth grade.

“We should know more by Monday,” Babineaux said.

St. Charles Catholic Director of Admissions Don

Fernandez said they have enrolled 180 students.

“We had to make some adjustments to accommodate the new students,” Fernandez said. “We hired one new staff member for now and we are waiting to see how everything pans out. We have asked our students and teachers to be patient, and reminded them that they are our first family, but we have added a few more members.”

Ascension of Our Lord enrolled 182 new Crusaders. The school named its outreach “Crusaders Hand-to-Hand” and supplied the new students with school uniforms and school supplies.

“We are so blessed to have our school and our school families survive the storm, and this was the least we could do for others,” said Ascension of Our Lord Principal Amy DiMaggio. “To see all of these students, both old and new, together is such a wonderful sight. We are truly blessed.”

At Sacred Heart School in Norco, principal Cheryl Orillion commented the school was “very fortunate” in not sustaining any significant damage. An estimated 200 students are expected to swell the student body, including some 75 displaced students. “We’re doing our best to accommodate,” she said.

The new students come from Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes.

At St. Charles Borromeo Elementary in Destrehan, Dr. Donalyn Hassenboehler is adding one section per grade to handle an estimated 350 displaced students. Prior to Katrina, the enrollment stood at 522 students.

“We have to maintain integrity and provide a quality education,” she said.

An additional help has been two schools from northern states which sent textbooks, uniforms and supplies for the displaced students.