High school magnet program accepts overflow students

Published 12:15 am Saturday, May 5, 2018

RESERVE — St. John Public Schools was looking for 180 high-performing students to launch the District’s first magnet high school program in 2018-19.

More than 250 answered the call.

And, they’ve all been accepted, 261 in total.

“Instead of screening kids out, we felt we needed to buckle down and make sure we can take care of every kid that applied,” Superintendent Kevin George said. “I don’t want to turn any kid away that wants to be involved in the program. The numbers came out almost perfect, where eighth and ninth grade were pretty much even at about 90 kids each and the rest fell in tenth grade. It’s a pretty good start.”

District leaders say the program focuses on college preparatory mathematics, science and English language arts courses to serve students focused on a STEM career path.

The program begins in August and is open to eighth, ninth and tenth graders in St. John the Baptist Parish before expanding a grade level each year thereafter.

Not to be confused with an ongoing charter school effort by Louisiana Premiere Charter School, the magnet program is open to any student who lives within the School District and includes a selective-admissions policy.

Accepted students had to meet at least ONE of the following criteria:

• Score mastery or advanced on any math or science LEAP from the prior school year

• Score good or excellent on any math or science EOC exam the prior year

• Have a minimum 3.0 GPA in math and science

• Be classified as gifted according to IDEA regulations

• Have completed a magnet program at John L. Ory or Garyville-Mt. Airy Math and Science schools

Classes will take place on the former Leon Godchaux Junior High School campus at 1880 River Road in Reserve.

Garyville-Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet Principal Terran Perry is heading the magnet program as its chief administrator while also remaining in his principal role at the elementary school in a setup District officials say closely mirrors a successful one in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Perry recently addressed School Board members, sharing many of the questions he receives about the program focus on the teachers who will lead it from the classroom.

Perry said he is interviewing and recruiting certified teachers and those who possess special skills from industry that he wants students to exhibit.

“Out-of-the-box thinkers” and “creative people” are also targets in teacher recruiting, Perry said.

“The pathways that we are going to offer upon opening are pre-engineering, digital design and emerging media,” Perry said. “They are very popular. Pretty soon, within the next school year, we are hoping to offer biomedical sciences, and we are expecting a bunch of kids to take advantage of that program.”

Although going to class fulltime at Leon Godchaux, magnet program students are considered members of East St. John High or West St. John High, depending on their home addresses. Students also remain eligible to participate in extracurricular club and sports programs at the various high schools.

Bus transportation to and from school is provided.