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Opportunity, challenge await ESJ

There is change coming to East St. John High School.

Some has already taken place, and the rest is planned for the weeks and months ahead.

The news this week came with the arrival of Cory Butler as principal.

An accomplished educator with close to 20 years experience, he comes to the parish from outside the St. John the Baptist Parish School District.

His hiring follows a trend set earlier this calendar year when Alden Foster was named the school’s football coach and athletic director.

Butler is joining the school following successful stints as principal at Ellender Memorial High School and Schwarz Alternative School, among many other stops.

Foster compiled an impressive record in his seven seasons at Amite, his team finishing as state runner-up in 2011 and 2014. He also led St. Helena to a state finals appearance in 2004.

Butler and Foster will help lead a new era at East St. John High School, which will see the school’s students and staff return to their refurbished campus on Airline Highway this fall, following years of exile at the Leon Godchaux campus following Hurricane Isaac’s trek across the River Region.

Butler and Foster, and the man who hired them, Superintendent Kevin George, have a unique opportunity to lead East St. John as each will be gifted with a rare fresh start on a new campus in August.

“The change with the athletic director, that was an enormous change,” George said this week. “You have a change with the principal, that’s a monumental shift. However, we have a vision of where we want the school to go. Mr. Butler and Mr. Foster will help us in that vision.”

George envisions the school district ascending to top-10 status in the state. East St. John, as the school district’s largest school educating more than 30 percent of the District’s students, is the key to that growth.

“We’re excited about the new people we have on board, because they are going to continue to push our schools forward,” George said. “There is a lot of excitement right now, a lot of movement, a lot of action, and we’re ready to put the bow on this year and start next year.”

The challenge is laid out, the competition field has been selected and the players are in place. Next school year is an important one for East St. John High School and all of St. John Parish Public Schools.