Easter Observances Planned

For Christians, this is the most special season of the year.  Last Sunday churches observed Palm Sunday, remembering the triumphant arrival in Jerusalem by Jesus.  This week joy turns to sorrow and then sorrow turns to unspeakable joy.  The crowd turns against Him as Jesus is crucified on Friday.  But joy breaks out on Sunday morning with His resurrection.

Several sunrise services are planned in the area.  First Baptist and other churches will gather at Grand Bayou at 6:30 Sunday morning for sunrise.  Bro. Benjie Colvin will speak at Grand Bayou.

At Abbie Lane Retreat, Wayne Spears reports:  “I need to let you know that Easter Sunrise Service with be at 7 am on April 21.  Bro Olan McLaren from Davis Springs Southern Methodist Church (Fairview) will speak at Gethsemane, Bro James Hester from Social Springs Baptist (Ringgold) will speak at Calvary and Bro Roland Smith from The Church on the Hill (Campti) will speak at the Empty Tomb.  Bro Caleb Willis from Fairview Baptist Church will lead music.  We will provide rides for those who are not able to walk the grounds.  The whole service should not be any longer than an hour.”

Open Door Fellowship is holding a special Easter service.  There will be an observance of communion, baptisms, and Contemporary Worship. It begins at 10:00 am Sunday at Open Door on Esperanza Road.

First United and Wesley Chapel Methodist churches have several observances beginning tomorrow. Maundy Thursday service will be at First Methodist at 6:00 pm.  Wesley Chapel will have Good Friday service at 6:00 pm. Easter Sunday services are at 9:00 am at Wesley Chapel and 10:50 at First Methodist on Front Street.

In addition to the Sunrise Service on Grand Bayou, First Baptist Church is holding their Easter Service Sunday morning at 11:00 am.

First Methodist Church will hold an Easter Egg Hunt at the church Friday morning at 10:00 am. Then from 5:00 to 7:00 pm Friday afternoon will be the Easter Egg Hunt at First Baptist Church.

April’s MVPs at Red River Elementary School

From Shenell R. Deville, Principal, Red River Elementary School

Every month, we are recognizing staff members as our “Most Valuable Players” MVP.  These faculty members are recognized for their attendance, positive spirit, team effort, and their motivation to do above and beyond.

For the month of April we have selected five staff members who serve in various capacities. For the past couple of months, we have observed them do more than expected with a gracious and humble spirit.  If one way does not work, then they try another way; they do not give up on what is the best for our students and staff.  Our MVP staff are Jessica Logan,  Bookkeeper, Joey Miller, 4th Grade Math Teacher, Katie Williamson, Kindergarten Teacher, Vanessa Lloyd, Kindergarten  Paraprofessional, and Susan Williams,  School Psychologist.

RRES Staff Recognition Committee  will award the staff with a treat bag with their favorite snacks, a duty free lunch, a certificate, and picture on the MVP spotlight bulletin board.   In addition, our wonderful PAW Parents  will present them with sweet treats from a local baker.

Mother-Son Dance at Red River Elementary

Friday night was the first Mother-Son Dance held at Red River Elementary School.  Mothers of students and their sons turned out to fill the gymnasium at the school.

Doors opened at 6:00 pm and everyone filed in.  Many got tickets for pictures.  Everyone was dressed for the formal occasion.  And many sons enjoyed a dance with their mom or grandmother Friday evening.

Principal Shenell Deville told The Journal over 80 students bought advance tickets.  The gate workers said more than that showed up for the dance.

The gym was decorated in the same “Under the Sea” theme as the Father-Daughter Dance the prior Friday night.  The balloons had been refilled and were mounted on tall towers bracketing the dance floor.  By 6:30 the balloon towers had been disassembled by the boys and balloons were being tossed about.  Deville said, “I thought the balloon towers would have lasted longer than they did!”

Participants formed a long line to have their photos made to commemorate the occasion.  And there was a long line at the buffet table so dancers could dine on Swedish meatballs, sausage rounds, chips, cookies and lots of gummy bears.

This is the first year the Father-Daughter and Mother-Son dances have been held at Red River Elementary. They were fundraising events put on by Beta Club to fund an upcoming trip to the National Beta Convention this summer.  Judging from the comments of organizers, workers and participants they were huge successes.  It appears that a new tradition has been born at Red River Elementary.

Red River Band Has Had a Busy Spring

High School Band Director Yasmine Jason’s program continues to reach new heights.  She told The Journal, “Just wanted to let you know that the red River Band has been rolling these last few weeks! The whole band program and danceline performed at the Shreveport Mudbugs game under invitation only. The band performed for halftime and helped keep the crowd roused during the game.

“On March 30th, the Red River Band Trumpet players traveled to LSU to
participate in the 2019 Trumpet Festival where multiple trumpet players from across the country gave performances, gave practical playing tips and ideas for success on the trumpet.

“On April 6th, select members of the Red River band attended the LSU Tiger Band Day. On this day, the band learned stand tunes that the LSU band plays and played it with them in the stands at the LSU Spring Game. The students got to perform and learn from collegiate level musicians on the topics of musicality, showmanship and basic rhythm reading.”

And Jason adds, “The Red River Band is not yet done! They still have a Spring Concert performance that will be every bit as amazing as their other performances this Spring semester!”

Health Fair at the Council on Aging

There will be a Health Fair in our community next Thursday.  It will be at the Council on Aging on Front Street from 8:30 am until 12:00 Noon.

Many important health screenings will be offered at no or reduced cost.  Christus Coushatta Healthcare will be doing  blood work.  The HEART Program will be there providing screenings also.

The Council said, “Come by and get your blood pressure checked, your weight and height, and your blood sugar checked.”  Jordan Ring of the HEART Program said that BHP has paid for all clients to receive free A1c’s via blood draw. Fasting from midnight the night before would give a more accurate reading, however fasting is not required for people getting blood work.

In addition, Ring said, “HEART will provide blood sugar testing and BMI testing.  A dietitian will be available to answer any nutrition questions.”  And Ring added, “We will be signing women up for mammograms.”

Other vendors include Home Health, Resource Center, Medical Technology, Rehab Centers, Hospice, LaChip, and Acadian On Call.

The health fair is presented for the community by Red River Council on Aging.  It will be held at 1825 Front Street.

Detailed Plans of New Education Facilities Unveiled

Members of the School Board got a briefing on new educational facilities to be constructed on the Red River High School campus.  Superintendent Alison Hughes said the facility plans have been updated for the new Sixth Grade Center, the new Vocational Building, a new Music Building and the new Junior High Gymnasium.

The set of plans presented to the board is attached to this article.

“It is all state of the art,” said Hughes.  She added, “The new sixth grade wing on the Junior High will include a new entrance to the Junior High building and a new secured lobby.  There are plenty of classrooms and a nice science lab.”  The sixth grade building will be located where part of the old gym now stands.

There will be a new Vocational Building to be constructed in the open space just south of the Ninth Grade Academy building.  Hughes described the classrooms and lab spaces for Certified Nursing Assistant, Pro Start (Culinary Arts), Welding, Carpentry, Art and Micro-Business.

The new Junior High Gym will be built on the vacant lot recently acquired by the School Board just south of the present t-buildings that house 6thgrade classes. Hughes said, “It will seat about 550 spectators, not much smaller than the high school gym.”  The facility will include locker rooms for home and away teams, a weight room and concession stand.

The band is getting a new building.  Instead of getting a couple of rooms on the side of the old gym, the new building will be built just south of the high school gym. Hughes described the facility as “set up for choral as well as band. There will be practice rooms for instrument and vocal solos with plenty of room for the band.”

The board was told that bids for the new construction would go out very soon and bids will be due back by May.  The plan is for construction to begin as soon as school is out.  Improvements at the school is being funded by a $29,000,000 bond issue approved by voters a couple of years ago.

Baseball Senior Day at Riverdale

It was the final home game of the season for the Rebel Baseball team last Friday afternoon.  The graduating seniors were honored prior to that contest with Tensas Academy.

Riverdale has two seniors graduating from the baseball team.  They are Kyle Cason and Matthew Shaver.  Each was presented a bat with their name on it and a ball along with other mementos of the occasion.  Proud parents and Coach Nick Williams stood with them as the crowd gave a round of applause.

Tensas Academy came to play. They took home a 10 to 3 victory over the Rebels.

ETC… for Wednesday, April 17th

Bro. James Hester notified The Journal that Social Springs Baptist Church will be hosting their annual Resurrection Revival beginning Easter Sunday at 11 am, with services at 6pm nightly Sunday, 4/21 through Thursday, 4/25. Evangelist will be Benjie Colvin and music will be provided by Lindley Creek. Meals will be served following every service.

Nominations for Northwestern State’s N-Club Hall of Fame 2019 induction class are being accepted until the end of April through the NSUDemons.com website, where visitors can also find the new NSU Athletics policy regarding jersey retirements.  Anyone can use the online nomination form to submit potential candidates to be considered for the N-Club Hall of Fame. Members of the N-Club, the association of former athletic letter winners at NSU, will be able to review the ballot in May and cast their votes to help select the Class of 2019.

On Monday, April 15th, the state highway department reopened LA 155 in Bienville Parish.  It had been closed due to high water.

The regular monthly meetings of the local VFW Post and Auxiliary are being delayed so members may take part in Easter week observances.  VFW Post and Auxiliary 7287 will meet next Thursday evening, April 25th.  They meet at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church on the Ashland Road at 7:00 pm.

The Journal thanks our many readers for sending us pictures and details of various events.  We love to see them all!  There is a favor we would ask.  Please turn the phone sideways to take your pictures.  It is called “landscape” mode.  That makes it easier to include them in The Journal. Thanks.

Curbing School Staff Absenteeism

The Red River Parish School Board heard at the meeting Monday night that there is a big problem with staff missing more days a year than they are entitled to.  Moves are planned to curb habitual absenteeism.

Nicole Eason told the board, “Teachers and employees are abusing our policy.  Each gets 10 days sick leave with other amounts depending upon their position.  After extended leave some qualify for leave with pay, 65% to 100% of daily salary.  And some then take leave without pay.” 

Superintendent Alison Hughes said to the media present, “I want you to report that it is not just teachers we’re talking about.  We have an absentee problem with staff and support personnel too.”

The board was presented with a chart showing that as of the end of February this school year personal sick leave was 60% of absences or 1023.5 days.  Nineteen percent was annual leave, bereavement, extended sick leave, jury duty and personal leave for 324.5 days; 16% sick leave and family for 272.5 days; and 5% was personal leave for 94.6 days.  Note that figures were not presented on what percent of the abusers were teachers and what percent are bus drivers, support staff and other personnel.

Finance Director David Jones summed it up, “The big problem is employees taking too many days off, that they don’t care if they take extra days off without pay.”  For teachers there is the additional cost of $67,000 for hiring a substitute teacher.  And Jones said, “All together we spend about $100,000 a year on substitutes for teachers, bus drivers, and support personnel who are absent.”  This is above the cost of the salaries for those staffers who are not on the job.

Board Member Susan Taylor said there was more than the dollar cost.  “When the teacher is not in the classroom it has a negative effect on the students.  Students do better when their teacher is there every day,” said Taylor.

So what is planned to correct the situation?  Superintendent Hughes told the board, “We’re getting our attorney in to set up procedures for following our attendance policy.  We have a policy but over the years we have allowed small abuses to become the norm.  Now employees are extending it and extra abusing it and missing many days.” Hughes added, “We’re not changing the system but looking to strictly enforce what is already in our policy. This won’t affect those doing the right thing already.”

Red River Choir Members Entertain School Board

“A viable choir program” is how Superintendent Alison Hughes termed Red River’s vocal program.  She presented Band Director Yasmine Jason and two students to the board Monday night. 

Addison Bounds and Adrianna Bradford are members of the Choir who recently were invited to a choir competition.  Jason told the superintendent, “I am so very proud to announce that today, Red River made history. First, we were recognized as a viable choir program and we were invited to have selected students perform. We traveled this morning and we had two students sing solos. Both students stunned the judges and Red River got superior ratings across the board.” That competition was held in Alexandria.

“This makes Red River history because we have never been invited, and in our first assessment we made superiors (the highest score you can get),” added Jason, “I am so proud of all the hard work these students have done and wanted to share this amazing accomplishment with you.”

Bounds and Bradford performed a song from Beauty and the Beast for members of the board.  They were rewarded with a round of applause from the board and those in attendance at the meeting.