Riverdale Graduates Fourteen

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Riverdale Academy held its commencement ceremony last week. The graduates heard inspiring thoughts from classmates and school administrators. And they passed the torch on to the Junior Class.

The Devotional speaker was Bro. William Hall of Abundant Life Worship Center in Coushatta. Hall summarized what was on the graduates mind when he said, “Will the old people stop talking so I can get my diploma.” Hall promised to be brief. Hall talked about the super power each graduate has. He called it “the power to decide your life for yourself, the power of free will, the power of choice.”

Hall spoke of the greatness inside of each one, “I believe there is greatness planted by God in you. The tragedy is that some will decide there is no greatness. That your situation is what it will be.” Hall added, “Each of you decide I am going to produce something that is great.”

The Salutatory Address was by Jake LeGrande. He said, “I am calling this The Great Escape. If you work hard enough and eventually figure it out. I am not talking about breaking out of prison, but escaping into the real world.” He thanked the school for his education. “I have learned so many life lessons from Riverdale Academy. I will continue to use them along my way.”

Co-Valedictorians for 2018 are Madelyne Greer and Nicole Williams. They spoke of making friends at Riverdale. Greer said, “Riverdale became my home away from home. You provided family I never knew I needed.”

Williams thanked her parents, “My Father always pushed me. My Mother showed me a lot. My church family helped me know Christ.” Then speaking to the Junior Class, Williams said, “You are the people the underclassmen will look up to.” And Williams encouraged them to provide the good image.

Riverdale’s Honor Graduates for 2018 are Madison Nicole Aleander, Shealy Grace Almond, Brandon Tyler Gay, Madelynne Marie Greer, Allen Michael Jones, Benjamin Jacob LeGrande, Kamden Lane Messick, Reagan Tyler Prosperie, Jamie Nicole Swayze, and Carmine Nicole Williams. Other graduates are Josey Elizabeth Cobb, Jered Zakree Cook, Payton Michael Thornton, and Ryan Matthew Tomerlin.

The senior class motto is “If you do not think about the future, you cannot have one.” From John Galsworthy.

New School Proposed

RRPJ-Charter School-18May23A new charter school has been proposed to operate in Red River Parish. It would be under the direction of Crystal Cummins. This school year Cummins operated a home school co-op called Catfish Bend Academy out of her home on the Catfish Bend Road in south Red River Parish.

The news release from the group said the group “has several board members, and will be looking for more board members. At present, board members are: Hardrick Rivers, Mary Adkins, PhD; Katie Murray, and Debbie Williams.

School Director Cummins (pictured above) told The Journal they made application to the Red River Parish School Board recently. Cummins says they have been notified by the school board that a third party reviewed their application and recommended the board deny it.

The school board, at the May meeting announced a special called meeting will be held Monday, June 4th at the board office. Superintendent Alison Hughes confirmed the purpose of the meeting was to consider a charter school application. Cummins says she has not been informed by the board that the meeting would be held June 4th.

Here is the media release issued this past weekend by the charter school group.

Press Release:

Advantage Charter Academy has applied to the Red River School Board to open a K – 8 Charter School in Red River Parish. If the Red River School Board approves the Charter School, this means that families in Red River Parish could soon have another public school option. The charter school would be open to all students in the parish from grades K – 8 and would be funded by state and local sources, which means families would not need to contribute any tuition. In the event that more students want to attend than the school has seats available, enrollment will be decided via a public lottery. There will be no special qualifications necessary to apply.

According to Crystal Cummins, the Advantage Charter Academy school director, opening a charter school in Red River Parish would be “An incredible opportunity to greatly increase the educational opportunities for students of the parish.” Currently, a number of local children attend public schools out of the parish, attend private school, or elect to homeschool. Mrs. Cummins hopes an alternate, public school option in Coushatta would draw many of these families back into the district. She also believes school choice will empower families currently in the district to become more involved in the school system and may even help bolster the local economy.

Advantage Charter Academy will use a different approach than the current public schools by utilizing a Montessori – style education methodology which is characterized by multi-age classrooms, hands-on experiential learning, and individualized instruction. Montessori based instruction helps students understand concrete concepts using specially selected tools and manipulatives. This methodology helps students understand more complex, abstract concepts. In Montessori classrooms, students seldom sit at a desk and passively listen to a teacher, rather students take an active role in their learning and exercise personal responsibility in selecting jobs (specific learning tasks) to do throughout the school day and are afforded a great deal of flexibility to move about the classroom. Montessori classrooms have low student to teacher ratios, and students are encouraged to cooperate together, think critically, and solve problems.

Traci Schmidley, who currently uses Montessori instruction in her home and will teach at Advantage Charter Academy, has seen the tremendous success of her own children and students who use the Montessori curriculum. Many of her students are working multiple grade levels ahead of their peers who attend traditional schools. According to Mrs. Schmidley, “The Montessori method is not just about achieving high performance standards but is also about teaching our children to love the process of learning. The Montessori materials make concepts come alive and students can immediately touch and see the tangible results of their efforts.”

Charter schools that are authorized by the local school board, are granted permission to make their own decisions in terms of budgeting, staffing, curriculum, etc, but are also held to high accountability standards. The students will be tested at the end of each school year by the state standardized tests. Then, the school is given a school grade of A-F. Test scores earned by Advantage Charter Academy students will count towards the parish’s overall performance scores and could bring a real bolster to the parish as well.

 

Although charter schools are increasing rapidly across the state, there are still relatively few charter schools in northwest Louisiana. Most of the top 15 schools in the state of Louisiana are charter schools.

Therefore, it is important that if you would like to see another public school option in Red River Parish for grade K – 8 that you get involved. Contact your elected school board representatives, and the superintendent’s office, and let the district know you would like to see Advantage Charter Academy open in Coushatta. You can visit Advantage Charter Academy Facebook page, like it, share it, and add your name to the growing list of parents who would like to see school choice in Red River Parish.

Moving on Past Fifth Grade

 

They don’t call it graduation, but it is an End of Year Celebration. The class of 2025 is moving up to sixth grade. Their motto, “It doesn’t get easier, we just get better.”

It was a gala celebration held at Red River Elementary School last week as the fifth grade class was treated to Salisbury Steak and all the trimmings for lunch. Then parents and friends came into the gymnasium for a great celebration capped with a slide show titled “We Came, We Saw, We Showed Out.”

The video above is the class song performed by Caitlyn Jones, Anyla Young and Adrianna Bradford accompanied by Cameron Jones on keyboard. The students put on the end of school program including poems by Jemarcus Latson and Shamiya Henderson.

The students received an abundance of awards from their teachers. There were certificates for everything from excellent penmanship to exceptional academic achievement. Many of the students were also awarded medals to wear around their necks.

Closing remarks were offered by Principal Shenell Deville. She thanked friends and family members for coming to help their children celebrate moving from elementary to the sixth grade. Deville told them. “I know you are ready for junior high. Now let me hear your cheer.” To which the kids responded in unison, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, We’re on our way to Junior High.”

 

Service to Schools Celebrated

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The Red River Parish School Board recognized their employees who have served the board five or more years. Each five-year increment was celebrated with an award. Pictures with this article show school employees who attended the May meeting. After the awards were presented, they were the honored guests at a reception during a recess in the meeting.

Employees with five years service are Josh Alexander, Denise Darsey, Changela Kirts, Steven Long and Kenyotta Williams.

Marking ten years service to public schools are Nicole Eason, Jeffrey Edwards, Russell Gray, Linda Harris, Chevron McDonald, Marsha Miller, Robin Owens, Dedric Smith, Samantha Sullivan and Fredrika Taylor-Mosely.

Employees with fifteen years service are Ricky Cannon, Jan Emerson, Intha Fields, Betty Gray, Jimmy Stokes and Kelly Yelverton.

Twenty year awards went to Deborah, Babers, Trina Brown, Renee’ Hester, Sonia Hogan, Alison Hughes, Wanda Lemoine, Demetrice McDuffy, Milton Monroe, Fonda Moseley, Shelia Peter, Janette Smith, Lisa Stevenson, Christy Suggs, Rachel Urda, Paula Walsworth, Heather Wren and Kyle Wren.

Recognition for twenty-five years of service are Sequita Chatman, Ross Gamble, Margie Kirts, Debbie Lawhorne, J W Moore, Dan Pickett, Donna Prosperie, Carey Prosperie, Mineola Richmond and Glenn Wood.

The employees marking thirty years service are Rodney Bagley, Shirley Longino and Fleeter Taylor.

Note that there are employees who have served more than thirty years in public education. Each year the board salutes those employees with service in five-year increments. Also note that the recognition is for years service in public education, not necessarily all in Red River Parish.

An Armed Forces Day Remembered

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The Coushatta VFW Post and Auxiliary joined the local Burger King restaurant in observing Armed Forces Day last Saturday. Members of Post 7287 and Auxiliary 7287 went to breakfast to say “Thank You.”

Burger King restaurants support the Veterans of Foreign Wars Unmet Needs program by contributing over $5,000,000 nationwide. Unmet Needs has provided more than $10,000,000 in assistance to nearly 9,000 veterans and military families who came face-to-face with unexpected financial difficulties. The program began in 2004.

On Saturday the VFW went to say thanks to the local Burger King restaurant. They met Assistant Manager Elise Ivy and had a delicious breakfast. The delegation was headed by Post Commander Barry McCoy and Auxiliary President Dawn Brewer.

The next meeting of the Coushatta VFW and Auxiliary will be Thursday, June 28th at 7:00 pm. The meetings are held at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church on the Ashland Road. For more information, call 932-6557.

“FINDING FREEDOM” Part 3

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“Hello, my name is A. P. I struggle with addiction to drugs.”

I learned about Celebrate Recovery (CR) through the local newspaper. The church section listed the place and times. I had recently completed a drug addiction program in a local facility and was looking for a recovery group in my community and decided to check it out.

CR has brought me closer to God. I realize there is no shame in asking for help. I have learned tools to use to help me make better decisions. I also have people to call for guidance and help. I have learned to use the steps outlined in the program to help me cope with my addiction, as well as life issues.

I want to use what I have learned to encourage others. Although we are all naturally bad, the Bible tells us that with God all things are possible. Freedom from your hurts, hand-ups and habits is possible. I am learning every day to be honest, open and willing.

Celebrate Recovery meets every Monday evening at the Red River Cowboy Church. A meal is served at 5:30 p.m. Our large group starts at 6:00 p.m. Small group starts at 7:00 p.m. We are usually adjourned by 8:00 p.m. Childcare is provided.

Come out and join us because “it works if you work it and you’re worth it so work it.”

Click it or Ticket Comes Home

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We have all heard the slogan of the traffic safety campaign “Click It or Ticket.” Here in Coushatta those who have not heeded that advice may have been issued a citation.

The Coushatta Police Department is participating in a nationwide effort to get motorists to buckle-up. It is happening now because the long Memorial Day weekend is approaching and so are the hot summer driving months.

Coushatta Police Chief Kevin Stafford said his officers are out in force every day. You may have observed the blue lights flashing and motorists pulled over.

Law enforcement agencies across Louisiana and the nation are cracking down on drivers and passengers who are not securely buckled in their seats. So be safe on the roads and buckle up. Otherwise it could be costly.

ETC… for May 23rd

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This is the day students have been looking forward to since last August. Today is the last day of school.

Coushatta resident Keava Turner made the President’s Honor Roll at LSU. She maintains a 4.0 or higher average in the College of Science.

Mt Zion Baptist Church on Highway 71 North of Coushatta is holding Vacation Bible School May 29th through June 1st. Sessions are at 6:00 pm daily. For information and transportation call 318-349-2754.

Freshman Connection is Northwestern State University’s freshman orientation program. NSU will hold seven sessions beginning May 24. Four sessions will be on the Natchitoches campus on May 24-25, May 31-June 1, June 20-21 and July 10. The program will be held on the Alexandria campus June 5, and on the Leesville/Fort Polk campus June 7 and on the Shreveport campus June 13. The fee is $100 for the sessions on the Natchitoches campus and $60 for the sessions on the Alexandria, Shreveport and Leesville/Fort Polk campuses.

Recently the Red River High Pro Start program treated the faculty and support staff to lunch. Below is a picture of a couple of the students and instructor Wanda Lemoine serving lunch to teacher Keith Johnson. This week Pro Start is packing up their equipment for a move to the Springville Education Center campus. Their kitchen is being moved as part of the rearrangement of classroom buildings to clear a path for new construction on the west part of the high school campus.

The first time was a winner. Northwestern State University’s Lyric Choir won a Gold Medal in the Female Choirs category at the 3rd Budapest International Choral Celebration and Laurea Mundi International Open Competition and Grand Prix of Choral Music. The Lyric Choir is conducted by Director of Choral Activities Dr. Nicholaus Cummins. Other winning choirs in the Open Competition were from the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Taiwan.

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Body found in Bayou Pierre, officials working on identification

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Two LA Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries agents spotted a body floating in the water while they were patrolling on Bayou Pierre May 16 at 1:13 pm, one mile South of the Hwy. 174 bridge near the Natchitoches-Red River Parish line in the Jordan Ferry Community.

Deputies and Investigators from the Natchitoches and Red River Parish Sheriff’s Offices and the Natchitoches and Red River Parish Coroners Offices responded to the scene. The body was recovered and sent for autopsy to determine positive identification, and cause of death.

The NPSO is the lead investigating agency. They request the public call the Criminal Investigations Division with any information regarding missing persons in the area.

Investigators believe the body to be that of a female, however at this time it’s not believed to be the body of the missing woman Cynthia Osborn. Additional details and body markings will be released after the autopsy is completed. Officials did say that it appears the body has been in the water for quite some time.

UPDATE:

NPSO: PRELIMINARY AUTOPSY FINDINGS RELEASED ON BODY FOUND FLOATING IN BAYOU PIERRE NEAR JORDAN FERRY AREA

Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Detectives and the Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office have received preliminary autopsy findings on a body found by LDWF Agents in Bayou Pierre on Wednesday afternoon near the Jordan Ferry area according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones.

After an autopsy was performed by Forensic Pathologists at University Health -Shreveport it was determined that the body discovered is possibly a white female approximately 5’4” with what appears to be butterflies tattooed on both lower legs, flowers on front of left thigh with a star beneath it and a tattoo of some sort on underside of right forearm with an unknown word.

The victim wearing a tee-shirt with a tri-colored pineapple on front is possibly between the ages of 30-40 and deceased approximately 2-3 weeks. Anyone with a missing person matching these descriptions please contact the NPSO-CID Division at 318-357-7830 Detective Jonathan Byles or the main SO at 318-352-6432.

The investigaton is active and ongoing by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office with assistance from the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office and Red River Parish Coroner’s Office.

Seniors Receive Awards in Special Ceremony

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It was the first time graduates of Red River High School received their scholarships and other awards at a special ceremony. In prior years presentation of awards was part of commencement. The special awards ceremony was held Tuesday night.

Principal J.C. Dickey III told the gathering of parents, relatives and friends that the ceremony would be lengthy but “I want everyone to know everything the students had achieved.” He added, “The big picture goes way beyond a diploma. Red River High has done a great job of preparing students for whatever comes next.”

Every graduate present received some recognition. Many students were the recipient of multiple awards, certificates, certifications. Then there was the presentation of numerous scholarships. Here are some of the highlights.

There were awards in English, writing, social studies, music and band, Spanish, small engine repair, and Beta Club.

Band Director Yasmine Jason presented the Outstanding Musician awards to Steven Williams, James Putek, Bobby White, and Shantwaine Lewis. Jason announced that the four students had been accepted into the NSU School of Music. She said never before had four Red River students received music scholarships.

Bulldog Awards were given to Kaylee Antilley, Karla Ashworth, Skylar Blow, Dominique Burton, Mickael Lewis, Shantwaine Lewis, Jasper Miller, Christopher Moore, Pierre Mosely, Brian Price, James Putek, Jacob Session, Bobby White ad Steven Williams.

The Leadership Award went to Adriana Bradley. Mrs. RRHS is Tianna Rock and Mr. RRHS is Waylon Washington. Principal Dickey said that award reflected everything Rock and Washington had done in high school, their accomplishments and contributions over the past four years.

The Air Force Junior ROTC program presented graduates with certificates of completion of the program. Those were awarded to Kaylee Antilley, Karla Ashworth, Jaclyn Bone, Tyneisha Callihan, Shemarian Demery, Pierre Gant, Kyara Iverson, Mickael Lewis, Thomas McCoy, Kiarra Rock, Tianna Rock, Kami Sharpley, Joseah Warren, and Abudllah Yafai.

National Society of High School Scholars awards were presented to Kaylee Antilley, Adriana Bradley and Tianna Rock. Trailblazers were Tianna Rock and Kaylee Antilley. Awards for participants in Girls State went to Tianna Rock and Adriana Bradley.

The award for the student scoring highest on the ACT test went to Angel Baird.
The highest dollar amount awarded was a scholarship from the Louisiana National Guard. James Putek has already enlisted and he was awarded a full four-year scholarship worth $102,000.00.

RRHS Black History Scholarships were presented by Billie Sue Mosley and Phyllis Calhoun. They were given to Skylar Blow, Adriana Bradley, Dominique Burton, Demontae Calhoun, Lazaria Clark, Ladaja Demery, Shemarian Demery, Pierre Mosely, Randarius Murphy, Shacoby Perkins, Shakeem Perkins, Joesph Smith, SheReddrion Smith, Waylon Washington, Bobby White, and
Oksonna Williams.

Some of the other scholarships awarded include the Louisiana Sheriff’s scholarship presented to Caty Mahfouz. Alternate on that scholarship was Wilmer Gene Williams. The Louisiana State Troopers Association scholarship was presented to Kaylee Antilley. The American Legion presented two scholarships to Tianna Rock and James Putek. The Cox Development Foundation scholarships went to Lazaria Clark and Pierre Mosely. The State Representative Kenny Cox scholarship was presented to Adriana Bradley. Upward Bond DeSoto presented a $1,000 scholarship to Tianna Rock. Another $1,000 scholarship went to Kiarra Rock.

Two universities presented scholarships. Louisiana State University Shreveport presented a 4-year, $8,000 scholarship to Cody Edwards. LSUS also presented a 4-year, $12,000 scholarship to Angel Baird.

Northwestern State University presented a number of opportunity scholarships. A total of three scholarships were presented to Kaylee Antilley. Three scholarships were also presented to Lazaria Clark. And two scholarships were presented to Tianna Rock.

To conclude the awards program, Principal J.C. Dickey presented each graduate with his or her Certificates of Commitment. Some students committed to a particular course of study at a college or university while others committed to go to a trade or technical school or go directly into the workforce.

In closing, Dickey said, “It was long, but I wanted you as a community to understand what our kids have gone through in high school.” He thanked the crowd for attending and supporting this years graduating class.

Commencement will be next Tuesday, May 22nd at 6:00 pm. It will be held on the football field, weather permitting.