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Pictured are Superintendent of Schools Darwan Lazard (left), Ville Platte Elementary Principal Katrina Ardoin (third from right), Mamou Elementary Principal Troy Fontenot (second from right), Rotary President Peter Strawitz (right), and (in no particular order) teachers Sandrine Ndongo Toto, Coralie Feron, Jessica Marie-Capseta, Marion Jacob, Camille Robin, Vincent Martin, and Melissa Wilmart. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)

Rotary of VP gets immersed

The French Immersion programs at Ville Platte Elementary and Mamou Elementary had to overcome a hurdle if they were going to continue this school year. The hurdle was a presidential travel ban that was imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
With help from Wanda Verrette and Evangeline Parish Police Juror Eric Soileau, Evangeline Parish Superintendent of Schools Darwan Lazard was able to send a letter to President Donald Trump.
“Congressman Mike Johnson agreed to hand deliver it to the White House,” Superintendent Lazard told the Rotary Club of Ville Platte on Tuesday, September 22.
“We were able to get a J-1 visa exemption so new fine people can come and be a part of the program we have here.”
He continued, “With all that’s going on in the world, they were willing to still come to Louisiana and to our community. I think that’s a testament to the kind of people who have come to help us and work with the children of Evangeline Parish.”
Katrina Ardoin is beginning her second year as principal at Ville Platte Elementary and told the Rotary Club her school added a fourth grade immersion class. “It is becoming a wonderful and beautiful thing to walk through the halls and hear the little students speak another language, and they’re enjoying it.”
She then introduced Sandrine Ndongo Toto, Coralie Feron, and Jessica Marie-Capseta.
Mamou Elementary, as well, added another grade level to its program.
“Bon jour, comment ça vas,” said Mamou Elementary Principal Troy Fontenot. “Unfortunately, that’s all I know, but I’m learning from our French Immersion teachers. This is our fourth year, and we added a fourth grade class this year. It’s an experience.”
He introduced new teachers Marion Jacob, Camille Robin, Vincent Martin, and Melissa Wilmart.
All seven of the teachers then told the Rotary Club where they are from and about their teaching backgrounds.
Superintendent Lazard concluded, “Our French Immersion programs in Evangeline Parish are doing quite well. Without these seven people, it would have been devastating to our children, our schools, and our communities that are looking to have this program because it preserves the culture that we have here in Evangeline Parish which is very important.”

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