Students in St. James Parish really going places

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 18, 2010

By David Vitrano


LUTCHER – Some lucky St. James Parish students will get the opportunity to travel well beyond the parish’s borders during the current school year.

Felix Landry Jr., who teaches agriscience at the St. James Parish Career and Technology Center, came before the St. James School Board Tuesday to tell members about the upcoming trip to the 83rd National Future Farmers of America convention in Indianapolis and request a $1,000 donation. Landry and 11 student members of FFA will be attending the convention from Oct. 20-23.

Said Landry, “The biggest benefit of the convention is the networking.”

According to Landry, the convention will afford attendees to meet representatives from more than 150 agricultural colleges and more than 55,000 FFA members from across the nation.

The board voted unanimously in favor of the donation.

Next, Lutcher High School Spanish teacher Meionkca Brown and her colleague Zack Miller told about a trip they were organizing for students to Costa Rica in the spring.

“As a student I studied abroad,” she said, “and I’d like to give my kids that opportunity.”

Miller added, “You can only do so much in the classroom.”

According to the teachers, the trip will give the students valuable world experience and vastly improve their Spanish-speaking ability.

Additionally, students who participate in the educational tour have the opportunity to earn college credit.

The board unanimously approved the trip, and Board President Charles Nailor Sr. pointed out the pair did not request the $1,000 usually awarded to groups planning major excursions. The board then voted to grant Brown and Miller $1,000 to help defray trip costs.

After the meeting, Superintendent Alonzo Luce said, “We’re very supportive of our kids having opportunities.”

The board also approved the purchase of a tract of land adjacent to Paulina Elementary School for a price of $9,900. The parcel is one of the final two-sixteenths of a piece of property on which the district plans to build a new cafetorium and new classrooms as well as more parking areas.

The district had previously bought the other seven-eighths of the land. The remaining one-sixteenth is owned by the brother of the person who owned the just-purchased land, but he is estranged, and his family members do not know how to contact him. Nonetheless, the money for his parcel is in escrow, so the board can move ahead with construction plans.

Also Tuesday, board member Patricia Schexnayder said she was concerned with what she has been hearing from some employees of the school system.

“The board needs to look at the ways some of our employees are being treated,” she said.

Nailor noted, “I think we have a lot of unhappy bus drivers.”

While Luce was clearly concerned with the situation and vowed to look into it, he acknowledged that some of the cause may have to do with increasingly heavy workloads being placed upon some district employees.

“We’re doing a lot more with a lot less,” he said.