St. John The Baptist Parish Public Schools

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Schools help students plan for the future

St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools helped students focus on their future during the month of September.

Because it’s never too early to start learning how to attain goals, several elementary schools participated in college visits. Both Emily C. Watkins Elementary and Garyville-Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet School students visited Dillard University. The field trips allowed students to observe and explore activities on a college campus. The trip also helped students tailor their career paths, meet people and ask questions. They were also able to identify personal, career and educational goals and learn what performance levels they will need to achieve to attain those goals.

A representative from the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) attended the September open house at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School and met with junior high parents and students to start discussing ways to pay for a post-secondary education. Information about financial literacy and scholarships was distributed. LPE is excited to be working with the LOSFA office, which is sponsoring the Field Outreach Services and Gear-Up programs with LPE this year.

West St. John High School juniors and seniors explored several post-graduation options. Aileen Landry and Sgt. Robert Gregoire, of the Louisiana National Guard, spoke to juniors and seniors at West St. John High School on Sept. 13 about the AS ASVAB Career Exploration Program. This program is designed to help students identify their interests and assist in better understanding their abilities.  It also allowed students to explore different career opportunities. The next day, Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance Representative Brittani Williams spoke with all juniors, seniors and parents about TOPS and financial aid. On Sept. 21, LOFSA Representative Juterh Nmah came to West St. John High School to assist all seniors with creating a FSA ID, which gives students access to the Federal Student Aid online systems to be able to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Fifty East St. John High School seniors traveled to Grambling State University for their Fall 2017 High School Day on Sept. 16. Students received information about admissions requirements, scholarship opportunities and the more than 40 degree programs Grambling State University offers. The students met academic faculty and learned more about their chosen field of study. They attended the football game, where Grambling State University faced off against Jackson State University. The excitement and exposure to the college campus experience was priceless in transitioning to the next level in their future college aspirations.

Other elementary schools focused on positive behaviors.

Kindergarten through third-grade students at LaPlace Elementary School discussed telling vs. tattling and learned that telling happens when something of importance needs to be conveyed, such as someone being hurt and needing an adult to help, while tattling is when you want to get someone in trouble. The school’s counselor Mechelle Terrio also discussed safe and unsafe touches and read “Care-ageous Kids: Keeping Your Body Safe.” Students also completed a “Tell a Grown Up!” coloring sheet and viewed the video “Seven Little Monsters, I’m Telling.” Fourth- and fifth-grade students focused on bullying, while seventh- through eighth-grade students worked on their career folders by learning about the different types of careers offered.

East St. John Preparatory Academy taught lessons on bully behaviors and prevention during the month of September.

“The students thoroughly enjoyed these lessons which consisted of a song titled ‘Don’t Laugh at Me,’” counselor Jennifer Russell said. “We started the lesson by listening to the lyrics of this song and picking verses that stood out to the students such as ‘don’t call me names,’ ‘don’t get your pleasure from my pain,’ ‘we are all the same,’ ‘someday we will all have perfect wings’ and discussed what these verses meant to them.”

Russell then introduced the three parts of a bullying situation: the bully, the victim and the bystander, what each meant and the important role of a bystander. Russell then discussed what harassing behaviors looked like and how it can tear someone up on the inside, which led to her next activity.

“I held up one apple and let the students say sweet compliments and really anything uplifting and kind to this apple,” Russell said. “Then I held up another apple that looked the same and asked the students to tell this apple cruel, insensitive comments.”

The students discussed how the two apples that looked the same on the outside might feel different on the inside and what kind of damage the words could have caused. She then cut the apples open. The apple students were nice to was clean, fresh and juicy on the inside. The other apple was brown and bruised on the inside.

“The students really started to see what kind of damage their words can do to someone even though they can’t see it on the outside,” Russell said. “It was a great lesson.”

Newly appointed Judge E. Jeffrey Perilloux and officer Rafael Neil also spoke to fifth and eighth-grade students about bullying, the importance of getting a good education, making good life choices and how the criminal justice system works.

During the month of September, Fifth Ward Elementary School focused on fostering relationships and being good citizens. More than 150 guests turned out for the school’s annual open house. Parents, students and community members were able to meet the staff, view the school and sign up for the Parent Teacher Organization. Visitors were also able to hear and see how the school is creating a more student-centered environment focused on literacy. To encourage students to take ownership in every aspect of the school, students lead the morning announcements daily.

Also during September, students in pre-K through second grade learned about fire safety. The fire safety presentation was provided by the SJPB Volunteer Fire Department. The students were extremely excited and were able to climb aboard and view the inside of a fire truck.

Life Skills were also taught throughout the month. A great lesson by Ms. Horne included asking students, “Why is it important to set goals?”

Sixth-graders in Deedra Spurlock’s class at West St. John Elementary School got a tasty lesson in argumentative essays. The activity guided them through the process of developing a claim for an argumentative essay. They maneuvered through the writing process one step at a time, starting with an Oreo cookie taste test. Students tasted two different flavored Oreo cookies and then took an opinion poll to determine which flavor is the most popular in their class. This led to very engaging discussions with a blend of various high-level questions that forced them to use their thinking caps. They then developed a claim using the data from the survey/poll and their discussion notes.  Several standards were addressed in this lesson, as was the incorporation of anchor charts, resulting in some well-written, multi-paragraph argumentative essays. 

John L. Ory Communication Magnet School focused on philanthropy. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, John L. Ory Communication Arts Magnet School students and staff decided to Go Gold for Childhood Cancer. Everyone was allowed to wear a gold shirt on Tuesdays for $1.  During the month of September, the school raised more than $1,000 to donate to the school’s philanthropy, Perry's Posse. Ory’s service continued with “Clean-Up Tuesdays.” The school’s Beta Club students volunteered to stay after school on Tuesdays and clean up the buildings and campus.

September is also Suicide Awareness Month and middle school students who visit the volunteer ambassadors were able to listen to a guest speaker about suicide prevention, as well as a guest speaker about bullying in observance of Bullying Prevention Month. Counselor Amanda Bourgeois taught lessons to kindergarten, first, and second graders on managing anger, bullying, and conflict resolution through books, songs, and activity books about a character named Henry B. Wigglebottom.