Gold & Silver program celebrates 30 years ; Triche reflects on generations of local impact

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

LAPLACE — Clarence Triche has enjoyed all the handshakes and hugs that have come from operating the St. John the Baptist Parish Gold & Silver Program for the past 30 years, but the biggest motivation is knowing that he has made a difference in the education of generations of students.

Triche became an educator in 1964, and he has served on the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board since 1987. However, his life did not always revolve around school. Growing up, he opted not to study and skipped every course that he wasn’t required to take. Starting college at Southeastern Louisiana University provided a much-needed wake-up call that made him realize the importance of a quality K-12 education.

“I didn’t have the education I needed. I decided I was going to try to encourage the kids to do a little bit more work in school. What seemed to be the only way to encourage them was to give them something for working hard,” Triche said.

The Gold and Silver program was founded on the idea of rewarding students for their academic success. Offered to all public and private schools across St. John the Baptist Parish, the program gives students access to freebies and discounts at participating local businesses. All ‘A’s qualifies a student for “gold” level rewards, while all ‘A’s and ‘B’s qualifies a student for silver rewards.

What the student receives is at the discretion of the participating business. The card could open doors to a 25% discount at Sonic, a free drink at a local restaurant or even a free haircut at a St. John Parish barbershop.

A few of the businesses including Formal Connection and Hymel’s Florist have supported the Gold & Silver program for decades. There have also been new additions, including NOLA Driving Institute, V’s Café and the Garyville General Store.

“My biggest problem today is the number of stores that are not open or got damaged by the storm. I lost some of my favorite businesses that were owned by former students of mine,” Triche said.

Yet, year after year, Triche works with his wife, Marcia, and son, Randall, to keep the program afloat. Pitching the program to community partners and printing countless posters of participating businesses can be expensive and time-consuming, but every minute and dollar spent is worth it when Triche meets someone who fondly remembers growing up with gold and silver cards.

Those encounters happen roughly once a week. This past Monday, Triche spoke to a St. John Parish bus driver who shared how nice it was to get discounts from different places. A recent Rotary Club scholarship recipient told Triche she has gotten the card for the past 12 years.

One memorable testimony came from a local mother who gave Triche a big hug before sharing that her two daughters at St. Charles Catholic use their silver and gold cards just as she did as a child.

Even School Board President Nia Mitchell-Williams and School Board member Charo Holden are former participants of the Gold & Silver program.

Every testimony leaves Triche on cloud nine, and he’s determined to find a way for the Gold & Silver program to continue for another 30 years.

“I’ve lived 81 years, and I don’t know how many more years I’m going to have. I’m hoping to have one of the clubs or organizations handle this from now on. There’s nothing else like this in the state of Louisiana,” Triche said.

He also encourages parents to take their children to participating businesses.

“They are the ones helping our school system. I want to give them as much business as possible,” Triche said.

This year’s Gold & Silver cards are good through September 2022. The full list of participating businesses includes: Buddy B’s, Cajun Grill, Chinese King, Chung’s Heavenly Sweets, Church’s Chicken, Da’ Sweet Shop, Dominoes Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts, El Mexicano, El Paso Mexican Grill, Fatty’s Restaurant, Fine Cakes by Cora, Frenier Landing, Frisco’s Deli, IHOP, The Jambalaya Shoppe, Lacarreta Mexican Cuisine, Mabile’s, PJ’s Coffee of LaPlace, Pier 51, Popeyes Chicken, R.J.’s Snowball & Grill, Raising Cane’s, Sam’s Southern Eatery, Siciliy’s Pizza, Smoothie King, Snoballs to Creams, Sonic Drive In, Todd’s Snowballs. V’s Café, Wayne Jacobs Smokehouse, Waffle House, Wendy’s on Highway 51 and Highway 61, ZoraChristina Café & Catering, Avo’s Jewelry, Carmouche Jewelers, Children’s World, Donnelly Jewelers, Formal Connection, Garyville General Store, Gelly’s Unique Designs, Hip-Notik Clothing, Hymel’s Florist, LaPlace Beauty Market, Maddie Gear, Oh So Cute Monograms & Boutique, Saint Optical, Southern Stylz, Stop & Save, A Cut Above, Cosmopolitan Hair Co., Cutters Town LLC Barbershop, Da Beauty Bar, Distinctive Cuts, Kuttin Korner Barber Shop, Lady T’s Barberspot, Metamorphosis 180 LLC, Nail Salon & Spa, Princess Nails, Salon Experience, The Hair Bar, Throne Barbershop, Wonder Cuts, Anytime Fitness, Elite Affairs, J. Albert Car Wash, NOLA Driving Institute, The Shakita Kae Show and Tri-Parish Trophies.