Speakers teach west bank students value of hard work

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 14, 2012



EDGARD – In an effort to get students focused in the second half of the school year, faculty at West St. John Elementary on Wednesday organized a series of guest speakers to address topics such as classroom behavior, respect and possibilities for the future.

In two separate sessions, one for the girls and one for the boys, men and women from the west bank community shared stories with the students and encouraged them to work diligently as they continue their education.

“Take it seriously,” said Grant “Frog” Walker of Edgard. “You are the future of this community, and we want it to be strong and carry on.”

Walker explained to the students that he finished high school at West St. John but didn’t go to college, instead choosing to work at Avondale Shipyards. He encouraged they boys to not follow in his footsteps.

“It was hard work,” Walker said. “You don’t want that as your future. Go out, go to college and get a good job so that you can provide a quality future for your family.”

Larry Sorapuru Jr., also of Edgard, talked about the sacrifices he made for his family in working nights and weekends at jobs at industrial plants in the area. He tried to make the students understand their parents were making the same sacrifices for them. He also talked of the time and effort spent by teachers and faculty at the school.

“Many people worked to build this school up for you,” Sorapuru said. “Treat it with respect. Stay focused on what you are about and what you need to do to succeed. Nothing is going to be perfect in your life, but don’t make it worse than it has to be.”

Sorapuru encouraged the boys to speak up when things bother them. He encouraged them to ask questions and talk with their parents and teachers.

“Every teacher here wants you to do your best in everything you do,” he said. “No teacher is going to let you do something that’s not right.”

The students also heard from Art Smith, newly inaugurated council member for the west bank. Smith talked about how life can be too short sometimes and that when there is an opportunity to take advantage of a positive, do it.

“Make hay while the sun is still shining,” Smith said. “Prove to your teachers that you are not a zero student.”

West St. John Principal Serina Duke explained the presentation was part of the school’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program. She said the school gives rewards for positivity in the classroom. She said Wednesday’s event was the first of its kind, but it won’t be the last.

“People in this community care very much about the community, and they want to see it succeed,” Duke said. “They are a family and the students here are part of that family.”