Winter Arrives

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Winter blew into Red River Parish Tuesday as temperatures dropped. There were reports of snow all around, and some sleet fell at the Journal office.

The National Weather Service at Shreveport said, “Strong cold air advection will continue to penetrate Deep East Texas into all of Northern Louisiana such that freezing temperatures will be possible across these areas late tonight through mid morning on Wednesday.”

We have experienced lots of rain in recent days. The Red River and those streams flowing into it are near bank full. Some water is even higher in places. For the next day or so there is forecast to be no rain but it will be very cold. As you are waking up this morning (Wednesday) the temperatures should be in the low 30s, possibly dropping to freezing before the sun comes up to warm the day. Wednesday night-Thursday morning lows are forecast to dip into the upper 20s.

Red River Schools Make Progress!

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By Superintendent Alison Hughes

All schools in Red River Parish increased in performance points for the 2018 school year in both the old and new formulas for classifying school performance.

Red River High School, the flagship school of the district, is now labeled a “B” school in the state. Their progress of more than 9 pts in several indicators is admirable. We are very proud of the work they are doing to help students graduate with meaningful diplomas.

Red River Parish School District increased and now has a letter grade of a “C” in the new formula. In the old formula, the District grew by more than 5 pts. The District was given letter grades of “A” in graduation rate and strength of diploma. The greatest area of concern is the K8 & High School Assessment index, which purely measures the level of achievement of individual students on the LEAP 2025 exam. Although the District grew in the old formula by more than 5pts, in the new formula, while still showing growth, the District scored a 42.4. However, a “C” grade was awarded in the new formula for progress toward mastery which means that although some students did not score mastery on the LEAP test, they did make projected growth.

Although the state has once again changed the formula by which schools are rated, the comparison of the old 2017 formula to the old 2018 formula allows a true picture of growth.

Red River High grew 9.4 pts in SPS.

Red River Jr. High grew 2.6 pts in SPS.

Red River Elementary grew 4.4 pts in SPS.

This growth is reflected in the ratings of “B” awarded to Red River High School and Red River Elementary in student progress toward Mastery. This significant increase proves that these schools have implemented powerful change that positively impacts individual students on a daily basis. Red River Jr. High was rated a “C” in this category and shows improvement with each benchmark.

The solid growth shown by our schools can be attributed to sweeping changes in expectations, curriculum, and professional development for all teachers. Teachers and Administrators are now more acutely aware of the expectations of the new high stakes testing and are addressing individual student needs in progressing toward proficiency.

Change is difficult and overwhelming change takes time but the work of the past three years is now paying off. We have implemented a new curriculum in ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies. We have changed the grading system for all students to reflect true mastery of content. We are spending more time in professional development than ever before and our staff of now highly trained teachers are performing expertly in the classroom. While we are not where we would like to be as far as school ratings, we know that our dedicated, professional, and caring staff at Red River Parish Schools are working to achieve this level of growth for the next 5 years.

Mabile’s Open House

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Come join the exciting open house this Friday & Saturday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at Mabile’s Corner Pharmacy. It is Mabile’s annual Open House.

If you haven’t visited us lately you are going to be amazed at the different items we now have available. We have reinvented the pharmacy with the addition of new candles, clothing, jewelry, purses, gourmet food and much more.

Mabile’s Corner Pharmacy is located on Ringgold Avenue at Gulf Street. The Open House is tomorrow and Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

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Community Thanksgiving Services

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For the first time in several years there will be a community thanksgiving service. It will be held at First United Methodist Church on Front Street Sunday evening.

Bro Nathan Davis of First Baptist Church will bring the message. He shared some of his thoughts on the occasion with The Journal:

According to God’s Word, we are to be thankful in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18). So, as a community, it is important that we give thanks in all things, that we gather together to express our gratitude to the Lord for His faithfulness to us and love for us.

As a community, I think we should be thankful for the spiritual leadership in our community. The pastors I know have a genuine love for their congregations and want to see them grow close to the Lord. Without strong spiritual leadership, we would not see the blessings of God on the Lord’s Church.

As a community, I think we should be thankful for the freedom to worship. Often in life we don’t realize what we have until it is gone. God honors our faithfulness to Him. We should be thankful that we can worship Him freely.

Similar gatherings that I have been apart of have been great. When pastors and churches come together to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it is a preview of Heaven. In this day and age, it is important that we focus more on the things that unite us and not divide us. Jesus loves the whole world.

I cannot say with certainty what I will be preaching on, but I am praying about Psalm 100. It is a psalm of thanksgiving that puts emphasis on our attitude about being thankful. Gladness is the key to thanksgiving.

Looking forward to it!

Coach Weir Begins 13th Season

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At the end of last basketball season, Riverdale Academy Head Coach Steve Weir remarked that most of the seniors that were graduating had been in the first grade when he first arrived at Riverdale.

Now, Coach Weir is beginning his 13th season. Weir reflected on his career at Riverdale in a recent Facebook post:

“I’ve been blessed to have coached some wonderful young men and women during this time and the accomplishments have been incredible at our very small but great school. I’m very proud of our program not only of all the championships and titles but even more proud of always doing it the right way.

“Our girls also begin defense of their amazing State Championship last season under the leadership of last seasons “Coach of the Year” Morgan Garrett. Our boys are beginning their defense of Back-to-Back State Championships. Last year was arguably the greatest year in Riverdale Basketball history with both teams winning State Championships on the same day in grand fashion.

“Both teams lost some very talented and great kids to graduation from last year, but as we say proudly at Riverdale “Tradition Never Graduates” so starting at 6 o’clock tomorrow night (Friday, November 9th) we begin our next journey with another group of great kids. Hopefully everyone will come out this year and support our young people as they represent our school and community again this basketball season. Go Rebels !!”

The Journal adds it’s congratulations to Coach Weir for a job well done.

Accident in the Rain

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A two-vehicle accident in Coushatta Monday night tied up traffic. It happened around 7:00 pm at the intersection of Cutoff Road and US 71/84.

Coushatta Police worked the accident. Officers at the scene say neither driver was injured in the crash. The vehicles had to be towed from the scene.

US 71/84 was blocked Eastbound and Westbound. Traffic going East had to detour through the Conoco. Eastbound traffic had to take the Cutoff Road through Coushatta.

Veterans Day Program at Red River

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The Air Force Junior ROTC program at Red River High School put on an impressive and moving Veterans Day tribute Monday morning. Area veterans were the honored guests for the program.

The Cadets ran the program. With precision they posted the colors while the Red River High Band and Choir performed the National Anthem. There were video tributes to veterans while the band performed “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and the choir joined in on “My Country Tis of Thee.”

Two highlights of the tribute were the presentation of the POW/MIA table. It is a remembrance of American’s missing and prisoners of war. The theme is “Remember” until all soldiers from all wars are finally accounted for.

Another highlight was the folding of the flag, with full explanation of the significance of each of 13 folds of the flag. This is the ceremony usually performed at a vet’s funeral before the folded flag is presented to the spouse or family members.

Major Thomas Edwards, commander of the ROTC squadron, told the gathering “We are here today to honor our vets. I want to congratulate our cadets for the outstanding job they did. They demonstrated loyalty to the veterans gathered here in this tribute to honor and thank them.”

Principal JC Dickey said, “I am impressed how many vets have come through Red River High School. Each and every year this community answers the call to serve our country. I am proud to be a part of this community and I am more thankful every day for the service you give to our country.”

Red River’s program concluded with a slide show featuring graduates from the parish and others who have served our country. The slide show is a project of Darlene Martin and it gets better and better each year.

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ETC… for November 14th

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Back on Friday the Thirteenth of November in 1998 Rivertown Market opened for business. The first days of operation were recalled Tuesday morning by owner David Coffey and three employees who have been at Rivertown all along. It was the 20th anniversary of the store. And it was a time to raise a cup of coffee in toast to the first 20 and the hopes of many more anniversaries. Then Coffey scurried off to the loading dock to help (or whatever) unload another truck of groceries.

Sewing God’s Love celebrated Veterans Day by making afghans for the 16 veterans who attend Open Door Fellowship. Susan Taylor said, “We make something for vets every year. This year we gave them to Open Door.” Sewing God’s Love is a group of ladies who sew, crochet, knit, and create items that are distributed throughout the community.

Here’s a note from Hickory Grove Baptist Church: December 16th, the Southern Plainsmen Quartet will be at HGBC .

The Journal’s friends at Big Easy Emporium are having a Kimono Giveaway. Details on their Facebook page. Brenda reminds you “So many people think our business closed when we moved locations. If anybody asks, just tell them to drive north of Coushatta on Highway 71 for about 3 miles and look for the green signs! You can’t miss it! If you pass up the first entrance, you are sure to see the second one at Gus Smith Road. And like mama says, “Call if you get lost!” 318-471-3171.

Report Card Shows Significant Progress

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The Louisiana Department of Education released School Performance Scores Thursday afternoon. The report shows Red River schools are making significant progress in educating children.

Superintendent Alison Hughes was just looking over the reports when The Journal caught up with her. Hughes said, “The school district grew overall. There was phenomenal growth at Red River High. The Junior High and Elementary schools showed growth as well.”

The district grew overall a full letter grade, from a “D” to a “C.” Red River High grew from a “C” to a “B.” Red River Elementary and Junior High schools have an overall grade of “D.” Hughes said, “The letter grade shadows growth that actually happened at both the Junior High and Elementary school. When you dig into the data, it shows our students are making great progress toward “Mastery” or toward becoming proficient in each subject.”

“For the first time, new state standards make it possible to see how much progress students are making,” said Hughes. She added, “Our teachers are actually growing kids. They are learning. We can demonstrate the progress kids are making from start to finish.”

Hughes said they would dig more into the report in the coming days. She expects to issue a more in-depth analysis early next week.

About a year ago the Louisiana Department of Education shuffled the deck, so to speak, changing the requirements for students to reach the various levels of achievement. Hughes explained to the school board at that time there would be some quirks because the basis for school and district performance evaluation was being changed. On Thursday Hughes told The Journal that the new performance scores have good news on every page and in just about every category. “Growth at the High School was phenomenal. And student progress at the Elementary and Junior High schools is great as well.”