Evangeline Parish Clerk of Court employee Tina Fontenot (left) receives a Certificate of Appreciation from Evangeline Parish Superintendent Darwan Lazard (center) and a chocolate drip cake from Mike Morris (right) with Acadiana Works during a special luncheon held last Wednesday. The event was held to honor local businesses that worked with the Evangeline Parish School District on implementing their new Work-Based Learning program this year. (Gazette photo by Elizabeth West)
By: ELIZABETH WEST
The Evangeline Parish School District was all about the businesses on Wednesday.
A special luncheon was held at the Northside Civic Center for local businesses who played a major role in making the school district’s new Work-Based Learning program a success.
Director of Special Education Roxane West said, “We are so thankful to the businesses in our community for opening up their places of business to bring our students in so that they can learn skills that will be necessary for them to proceed on in life.
“We just want to offer our gratitude to all of you because you have been so gracious to our schools.”
The Evangeline Parish School District, along with assistance from Louisiana Rehabilitation Services and Acadiana Works, first implemented this new learning program at Ville Platte High School at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. The Work-Based Learning program was then offered to qualifying students at Mamou High and Pine Prairie High during the second semester of the current school year.
This program allows students being assessed on the Louisiana Alternative Assessment (LAA 1) an opportunity to earn a high school diploma for the first time by accumulating high school credits and real world experience through working at local businesses. In the past the students that qualify for this program could only earn a certificate of completion upon leaving high school.
The businesses that made the dream of earning a high school diploma a potential reality for LAA 1 students in the district are Ville Platte businesses Champagne’s Market, Doug Ashy Building Materials, Evangeline Parish Library, Evangeline Parish Clerk of Court’s Office, Evangeline Parish School Board, and Ace Hardware. The Pine Prairie businesses that took part in the new program were Deville’s Grocery, Prairie Manor Nursing Home, and the Village of Pine Prairie.
These businesses according to West have helped make this new program “very successful” in its first year.
“We have recognized that this success is because the local businesses in our community believe in and support public education, and they support our students,” said West. “The opportunities that you have given to our students, we have seen have helped them build relationships with other adults, learn soft skills in the job market, and also promoted self confidence in our students.”
Some of those in attendance at the luncheon showing their appreciation to these nine businesses were the Work-Based Learning students, Special Education Supervisor for Evangeline Parish Kelli Lafleur, Mike Morris with Acadiana Works, Nichole Tate with Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, Evangeline Parish Superintendent of Schools Darwan Lazard, Assistant Superintendent Mike Lombas, Chief Financial Officer for the school district Amy Lafleur, MHS Principal Liz Chatelain, PPHS Principal Anita West, VPHS Councilor Emily Reed, Work-Based Learning teacher Tracey Jagneaux, and Evangeline Parish School Board Member Nancy Hamlin.
Lunch was served at the event by students from the Culinary Arts Program at MHS.
After enjoying the jambalaya dish, Lazard and Morris presented each business owner at the luncheon with a Certificate of Appreciation and a chocolate drip cake.
Before the luncheon ended, the superintendent took a minute to address the audience.
Lazard said, “I am so grateful for the businesses that backed this program and helped make it happen. There are so many hidden treasures at our schools like Work-Based Learning. We are proud of what our students are doing and we will continue to showcase the wonderful things happening here in Evangeline Parish.”