By: Charli Stanley
With so many high schools in the Vernon and Beauregard parish area, schools have to work hard to stand out from the rest, and you have to work hard to find that information, all while adjusting to moving to a new area. Luckily, I’ve taken the time to scrape together the information, so you don’t have to. Here, we will be taking a look into Leesville High School.
Leesville High School’s simulated performance score for last year was quite impressive at 97.7. This score is calculated using average grades and attendance rates. Their average ACT score is 23, showing students excel at standardized testing. With a 74 percent proficiency, and 48 percent of those students proving above proficient, your children are sure to receive a satisfactory education at LHS. Advanced placement classes are offered, with a 49 percent participation rate. Dual enrollment is also offered through Northwestern State University, including the opportunity for students to earn associate degrees before their high school graduation. Speaking of graduation, their graduation rate is also satisfactory, at 95 percent.
When asking what extracurricular activities are offered, I thought the list would never end. They offer a wide variety that is sure to encourage your children to get involved. To list only a few, they offer: Art Club, Bible Club, Black History Club, Drama Club, Environmental Club, 4-H, JROTC Color Guard & Drill, Physical Fitness and Rifle team, Quiz Bowl, Spanish Club, Student Government, Yearbook, and much more! They also offer S.T.E.M. enrichment with their Cybersecurity and Computational Thinking classes, as well as an incoming robotics course.
Awards and Achievements:
As far as sports go, their powerlifting teams prove themselves at the competitive level, with the girl’s team winning 2nd place at state, and the boy’s team producing a state champion at the individual level. Their football team gets a taste of gold as well, having been the district 3-4A champions for 4 out of the last 6 years. LHS has had independent state champions on their track team as well. Leesville High was also ranked 31st in the state according to the list of best high schools by state by U.S. News.
Leesville High also participated in the Louisiana Forest Festival Woodsmen Skills Competition, resulting in many students bringing home first and second place in various categories such as rope climbing and match splitting.
Their true shining star achievement is the perseverance the school has shown as a whole through the trying times of the last few years. It was made abundantly obvious to myself that the faculty and staff at LHS are overwhelmingly proud of the resilience their students have shown, through the many trials they have been put through, as then principal Mark Mawae tells me here:
“Our students have seen their share of hardships during the last two years. From pandemics, hurricanes, tornados, ice storms, and quarantines, our students have shown perseverance through it all. They are true Wampus Cats. Unique and unlike any other. They stand out, they thrive, they dare to excel, for once a Wampus Cat, always a Wampus Cat, and I am so glad that I am a Wampus Cat.”
A school that acknowledges their students’ hard work and holds their well-being and education above all, Leesville High School has proven to be an ideal community for your children to thrive in.
By Tammy Sharp
Fort Polk Progress
FORT POLK–An Intergovernmental Support Agreement (IGSA) between the Vernon Parish Police Jury and Fort Polk could save taxpayers upwards of $20 million over the next 10 years and provide a source of revenue for the parish totalling approximately $1.3 million, said Vernon Parish President Jim Tuck. Congress authorized the development of IGSAs among military branches and local and state governments for installation support services in 2013.
Officials signed the agreement at Fort Polk on May 24, renewing an expiring five year agreement for another 10 years.
“It has been a successful IGSA, benefitting both the community and the Army,” said Tuck.
The parish executes the agreement through its contract with the local business Waste Connections. The agreement ensures daily servicing of municipal waste throughout the installation, the collection of recyclables, and supports each rotation of soldiers through the Joint Readiness Training Center by collecting and hand-sorting field waste, according to an email from Nathan G. Jernigan, P.E. Chief, Operations and Maintenance Division at Fort Polk’s Directorate of Public Works.
“These tasks were successfully performed through two major hurricanes, two tornado events, a major winter storm, while working in a COVID environment!” Jernigan wrote. “In all of this, no Mission impacts were realized due to Solid Waste Service concerns. These results reflect the team’s exceptional leadership and commitment to the partnership.”
Officials began working on the original five-year IGSA in 2016 and executed the contract in 2017.
IGSA’s ensure that Fort Polk remains competitive and the most cost-effective installation in the Army, said Senator Michael Reese (R-Leesville), who was instrumental in creating the first agreement. In addition to the cost savings, soldiers training at the JRTC can focus on combat readiness training, instead of trash sorting, he added.
At the time, the Vernon Parish IGSA was recognized as one of the most cost-saving agreements of its kind.
“Initially when we did that IGSA, it was the biggest, greatest savings of any other IGSA,” said Tuck.
In fact, Fort Polk’s three IGSA’s were the first major ones the Army and the Department of Defense undertook, said Chief of Army Partnerships, Ivan Bolden. “Those three resulted in an annual savings of several million a year. That was huge. Right now we’re averaging about $30 million a year. That’s a significant amount that the Army is saving.”
“Johnny Bevers (then deputy garrison commander) and Col. Thomas (then garrison commander) for having the intestinal fortitude to bring those across the goal line,” said Bolden.
“They are still significant,” Bolden said of the current Fort Polk IGSA’s. “If they’re averaging $6 million in savings, that’s 20 percent. The three IGSA’s at Fort Polk are providing 20 percent of the savings for the whole Army.”
Bolden added that he was glad to see the 10-year agreement initiated between the parish and Fort Polk and indicated he’d like to see agreements go up to 20 years.
“It’s better to amortize assets over a 20-year period as opposed to a 10 year period,” he explained.
In addition, he’s pushing the idea of partnerships involving non-appropriated funded (NAF) projects, he said. Cities and states could help run the Army’s MWR businesses and projects, such as golf courses, parks and recreational amenities.
“We could save money and create efficiencies with that,” he said.
Of the 186 or 187 Department of Defense IGSA’s, the Army has about 107 of them, he said. “We have clearly leaned forward and pushed and encouraged. Our communities have taken the call and said yes, we want to do these.
“I understand Rosepine had to hire 30 plus people for the contract, so that was a win for the community. These things are very beneficial to the communities and the soldiers. I love being able to put these together.”
By Kimberly Wallis
With the rising cost of secondary education, anything that helps students complete college faster and at a lower cost, has appeal. Dual Enrollment (DE) can do just that, while also helping smooth the transition to college.
For those who plan on using the GI Bill, it’s important to know dependent children must be 18 or younger when the GI Bill benefits are transferred to them, but must also be over 18 or a high school graduate to use them. However, DE can still be useful as many majors take more than the standard four years of college. Having extra benefits available for tutors if your kids are having trouble with a class is an option as well. If you decide you want to transfer your benefits, get started by logging in here.
DE allows students to receive credit for the same course on both their high school and local technical, community, or four-year college transcripts. Students qualify based upon the academic requirements/guidelines set forth by the post-secondary institution. Their high school counselor helps them complete registration and select appropriate classes that meet Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) graduation requirements.
All schools in the Beauregard Parish School District offer dual enrollment through McNeese State University, Upper Iowa University, Pelican Chapter ABC, and Sowela Technical Community College. DE students here pay a reduced price for courses they take, with free and reduced lunch students paying even less. The Beauregard Parish School Board (BPSB) assumes the additional cost for this tuition reduction. Beauregard Parish School District Test Coordinator and Acting Curriculum Director Larry Hollie said courses typically provide entry level math, ELA, and supplementary courses that allow a graduating senior to enter university as a sophomore. He reported his district had 387 dual enrollments throughout the 2021-2022 academic school year.
All schools in the Vernon Parish School District offer dual enrollment through Northwestern State University (NSU), Sowela Technical Community College, and Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC). Lisa Lohman, dual enrollment coordinator for the Vernon Parish School District, says tuition fees are currently offset by the district through the use of Supplemental Course Academy (SCA) funding so the only financial obligations are the cost of textbooks and/or lab fees. DE enrollment here is open to all “qualifying” juniors and seniors and only to sophomores who make a full commitment to pursue the Associate Degree program. She also reported that Vernon Parish School District currently has 260 students participating in the DE program, with 91 students pursuing the Associate Degree. The graduating class of 2022 has 14 seniors who will graduate having already earned an Associates Degree from NSU!
If you’d like more information about the dual enrollment program, start with your local school district website. You may also want to check out the dual enrollment online portal recently launched by LDOE and the Board of Regents or the LDOE Fast Forward initiative.
A dual enrollment graduate smiles onstage while receiving his degree in Vernon Parish. Photo credits: Vernon Parish School Board
Fort Polk Public Affairs Office
FORT POLK, La. – The Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk FreedomFest takes place June 11 with fireworks, food vendors, a salute to the nation, static displays and musical guests Kylie Morgan and Jason Derulo on the JRTC and Fort Polk Headquarters Field.
Derulo, considered a multi-platform powerhouse, ranks among the top pop and urban artists with 11 Recording Industry Association of America platinum certified singles.
Morgan is an Oklahoma native who gained national attention from music producers and television executives after releasing her music independently.
If you’re interested in attending this event, which is open to the community, please take note of the following considerations:
For non-Department of Defense identification card holders, a visitor’s pass will be required. Pre-vetting is available by visiting https://visit.gvt.us/?b=usa&i=fort_polk&e=6Z7MFPZ9 and inputting your information. You will receive a text with your visitor-pass approval and directions to pick up your pass from the Visitor’s Control Center. Military police will be on-site to assist with parking, vetting and loading the shuttle buses (which are air conditioned).
Additional ACP information:
*ACP 5 (La. Hwy 467 – south/ Post Office gate) – will be open for extended hours in support of the Freedom Fest Event and concert June 11. The ACP will open for both entry and exit, at 9 a.m. and close when all guest have cleared the concert field. The ACP returns to standard hours of operation on June 12.
*ACP 2 (Parkway Elementary School gate) – will be open for exit only, in support of the FreedomFest. The ACP will open at 7 p.m. and close when all guest have cleared the concert field. The ACP will return to standard hours of operation on June 12.
Please have a government or state issued ID card, for anyone over the age of 16, when you arrive at Honor Field for parking. Parking is $10 per car, and only cash will be accepted. All persons entering a federal installation are subject to search. Any non-DOD ID card holders who approach an access control point gate for entry will be directed to the Honor Field parking area.
DOD-ID cardholders can access Fort Polk from any gate. They will be directed to the nearest shuttle-bus parking lot at the following locations:
Allen Memorial Library; Education Center; Fort Polk Commissary; The Exchange; The Berry Mission Training Center; Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital (no shuttle bus from this location)
Shuttle buses will begin transporting attendees at 4 p.m. from all locations. All event-site entrance gates open at 4:30 p.m.
What to bring:
Cash (automatic teller machines will be on-site) Sunscreen Strollers Small, insulated coolers for infant formula or water and diaper bags only
What NOT to bring:
Outside food or beverages
Backpacks or large bags
Professional cameras with telephoto lenses
For more information, call (337) 531-1959 or visit Fort Polk MWR at http://www.facebook.com/fortpolkmwr
By: Charli Stanley
With how broad the selection of high schools is in Vernon and Beauregard parishes, I’m sure it can be a little daunting choosing the correct one for your students, especially while juggling all of the things that come with moving to a new area. My hopes are that I can alleviate some of that stress by informing you about some of the schools in the area and showcasing what they have to offer. Here, we will be taking a look into Rosepine High School.
Rosepine High School, being one on the list of many, works hard to stand out among the crowd, and all of that hard work has definitely paid off. U.S. News recently published a list of best high schools in Louisiana, ranking Rosepine as #17 in the state and #1 in the area. With an A overall school rating from the Louisiana Department of Education and exemplary test scores, your children are sure to receive a proper education at RHS. Scores on the ACT average at 22, and 95 percent of their students score gold or higher on their ACT Workkeys Test. Proficiency rates are also satisfactory, with 67 percent proficiency in math and 75 percent in reading. All of this culminates at an impressive graduation rate of 96 percent.
Advanced Placement courses through CollegeBoard and dual enrollment classes through Northwestern State University are offered for students looking to get a head start on earning college credits. On average, 57 percent of eligible students participate in the Advanced Placement Program, equipping students with the knowledge needed to prepare them for taking their next step in education.
Many extracurricular activities are offered at Rosepine High School, including baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, track and field, powerlifting, softball, band, and cheerleading. Starting in the new 2022-2023 school year, RHS will also be introducing S.T.E.M. enrichment with the debut of their drone and robotics team.
Awards and Achievements:
Rosepine not only excels in academics, but also in sports. The RHS baseball team currently holds the class 2A state championship title for two years running, while the girls basketball and softball teams are both recognized on the LHSAA top 28 list.The football team was recently ranked top 10 for the 2021 season.
A word from Principal Joey Bartz:
“Rosepine High School is such a special place, but why? The answer is simple. Rosepine High School is made up of the most eagerly competitive people in the state. The faculty, staff, students, and community want to win in everything they do, whether it is academics, athletics, or any other competition. If they cannot win, they want to be the example in which others strive for. The school is heavily teacher led and has tremendous community involvement, which is a recipe for excellence.”
Rosepine is a school that leads its students to success with a principal that strives to maintain adaptability to ensure your childrens’ needs are met. It is a great option for your children to settle into after the commotion of moving.
By Kimberly Wallis
Often, our transitioning military families aren’t even aware that everyone is encouraged to apply
for early childhood education programs (ECE) at Fort Polk. Although local public programs are
specifically geared toward lower income families, there may be additional spaces available for
children from families with higher earnings, potentially making the time spent on the application
process well worth it!
While we may hate the thought of our babies growing up too fast, early childhood education
(ECE) allows parents to provide financially while still being part of a team working to put their
child on the path to success during their entire educational journey. Many dual earner and single
parent families alike take advantage of the affordable, high quality daycare programs offered
locally to get help with providing the basic skills their children need before entering
Studies show long-term benefits of ECE include being more likely to graduate high school,
attend college, less likely to be incarcerated, less likely to require public assistance, and earning
higher wages. Recognizing the importance of early education as a long term solution towards
combating low education rankings and high poverty levels, Louisiana legislators recently
advanced a bill making the Early Childhood Care and Education Commission permanent and
Governor John Bel Edwards’ agenda called for more funding at every level of education,
Socialization is another benefit to enrolling, especially if you’re new to an area! It’s always nice
to get to know others in the area with kids the same age as yours.
Just as children are presented with socialization opportunities they might not otherwise have,
parents gain access to information about other beneficial community services through
interaction with both school staff and other parents. For instance, children are monitored to
ensure they are meeting developmental milestones in order to help parents seek early
intervention when necessary. Special needs children are also served in these programs.
There are two programs offered at the two school districts that service Fort Polk. Louisiana’s
primary preschool program, Cecil J. Picard LA4, provides full day pre-K in public schools to four-
year-olds from disadvantaged families. Head Start is a federal program that promotes the
school readiness of children aged birth through five from low-income families.
Vernon Parish Head Start and Beauregard Parish Head Start both offer child development
programs for children from age 3 to 4 years old and Early Head Start for children from birth to 3
years old. Please note that transportation is not available in Beauregard Parish School District
and Vernon Parish School District only provides school buses for 4 year olds.
Filling out the application does not guarantee your child will be able to attend. However, an
incomplete application or lack of required documentation may lengthen the process or even
disqualify your child. Be sure to check with each program for which you are applying about what
you’ll need! The links to each district have been provided in the preceding paragraph to make it
easier to check out what you’ll need and where it’s offered.
In the Vernon Parish School District, applications are conveniently located outside the office at
1409 South 4th Street in Leesville. You can fill it out at your convenience but must turn it in
between 8:30-11:30 AM, Monday through Thursday. For more information, call the VPSB HS &
B5 office at 337-239-6899.
In the Beauregard Parish School District, rated highly proficient for overall measures of
classroom quality by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), you complete this online application. For more information, call (337) 463-5905.
Sending your child off to school can be hard on some parents (especially first timers!) but
parental involvement is actually encouraged and helps with fostering a lifelong love of learning
in your child. So when you apply, be sure to check out the volunteer opportunities available for
parents as well!
So you found out your family will be headed to Fort Polk and you’re wondering how this will impact your child because Louisiana ranks among the last in the nation on education. Let’s put those fears to rest real quick; Louisiana as a whole may rank low on education, but you’re actually headed to a great area for public school systems!
Unlike many of you reading this who are assigned to this area, I had a choice and made a conscious decision to move back here mainly because I liked the public school system so much. At the time, I worked in San Antonio, Texas and while the schools there weren’t exactly bad, I was still concerned about the quality of education my children were receiving. I felt strongly enough about it that I was willing to take a massive pay cut to move back and can honestly say I never looked back on that decision with any degree of regret. Not only was the education better but communication with the staff was much easier and more personalized here than in a larger city.
I’ve created a bar chart to better illustrate how good the public school system is here, and I must admit that I was even pleasantly surprised by the results! For comparison purposes, we’ll use the two school districts that service Fort Polk (Vernon Parish School District and Beauregard Parish School District) with some that service posts most people hope for: Fort Bragg (Fort Bragg Unified School District), Fort Carson (Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8) and Fort Belvoir (Fairfax County Public Schools). On Niche’s website, Fort Belvoir is highly rated and the other four public school districts are all rated above average.
You may notice that ACT scores were slightly lower here (only one point from the other two above average schools we compared). Many colleges require a 17, so this isn’t a bad average. However, what the chart doesn’t show is that all Louisiana students are required to take the ACT test, whether they are college bound or not. This requirement impacts district scores significantly! Consider this: would you, as a high school junior or senior, do your best on a time-consuming, challenging test when you knew the results didn’t matter in your life? An acquaintance’s son in the Vernon district took the ACT twice during his junior and sophomore year when he was considering going to college. Both times he scored a 17, everything he needed to receive the Taylor Opportunity Scholarship (TOPS) for technical school, but not quite what he needed to receive TOPS for a four year college. He took the ACT again his senior year, after he’d already determined he wasn’t going to college but instead technical school. He told his mom before he left the house he was not even going to try. He scored a 10. So when comparing Vernon and Beauregard ACT scores to the district scores in states where only those who are college bound take the ACT, remember the comparison is skewed. Fort Bragg and Fort Belvoir have no such requirement, although Fort Carson does require all students to take the SAT.
The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) reports graduation rates in Beauregard Parish maintaining a rate above 90 percent for eight consecutive years. Vernon Parish graduation rates increased 10 points over a five year period. Both of these districts now have a 95 percent graduation rate.
In all fairness, let’s talk about where Fort Polk’s two school districts could stand for some improvement. Dual enrollment is available for students in both districts, and many students here do take advantage of the program, but, much like the rest of Louisiana, we are still low on the total number of highschoolers utilizing dual-enrollment to gain college credits while in high school. Dual enrollment can actually help save money on a college education in most places, yet only about a quarter of eligible students are currently participating across the state! If you’d like more information on this program you can visit your particular school district’s website. Alternatively, the Louisiana Department of Education and the Board of Regents recently launched a new dual enrollment online portal.
Hopefully, this information helps to assuage any fears you may have about Louisiana being ranked so low on education. Simply put, the state average does not do justice to the quality of education offered here.
By DANIEL GREEN
SULPHUR – The top-ranked Rosepine Eagles left absolutely no room four doubt.
The Eagles pounded out 12 hits in a five-inning, 14-0 triumph over the No. 5 Many Tigers in the Class 2A semifinals on Wednesday at McMurry Park in Sulphur.
The barrage began in the first inning for the Eagles and it didn’t let up as they scored at least two runs in each of the first four innings.
It all began with Braden Trull on the mound. He retired the side in order in the first inning, bringing the Eagles to the plate for the first time.
Jake Smith tripled to deep centerfield and scored on a single off the bat of Logan Calcote for a 1-0 lead. Calcote took second when Grant Ducote was hit by a pitch and the bases were later loaded when Trull legged out a single.
Calcote scored on a sacrifice fly by Dalton Keel and Cole Donahue followed with an RBI-single for a 3-0 lead. A little later, Aden Cline smacked a 2-run single down the left field line to open up a 5-0 lead.
The lead grew to 7-0 in the bottom of the second. Ducote doubled to left center and scored when LSU signee Ethan Frey absolutely crushed a Jack Deville offering well over the wall in the power alley.
Smith added a 2-run blast in the third, while Calcote and Ducote both scored as Rosepine opened up an 11-0 cushion.
Three more runs in the fourth sealed the deal for Rosepine as Cline drove in a run with a single and Smith added a 2-run double for the final margin of victory.
Trull threw only 52 pitches in four innings to earn the win on the mound. He gave up just one hit and struck out four. Casey Tilley worked the final inning, giving up no runs on one hit with a strikeout.
Smith was 3-for-4 with a double, triple and a home run, along with four RBIs, while Cline was 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Donahue also had a pair of hits, including a double, and an RBI. Frey’s lone hit was a homer and he drove in two runs.
Deville suffered the loss for the Tigers, lasting only one and a third innings. J.C. Hendrickson and Trevor McLendon each had a hit for the Tigers.
By DANIEL GREEN
SULPHUR – Baseball games aren’t won or lost in the first inning.
But sometimes a play or two makes a huge difference.
Instead of escaping the first inning with a double play ball, the Hornbeck Hornets watched Hicks score four runs, leading the third-ranked Pirates to a 9-0 victory over the No. 4 Hornets in the Class C state championship game at McMurry Park early Friday afternoon.
With the victory, the Pirates claimed their second straight Class C state title as they will embark to Class B next season.
Hornbeck opened the game with a Jaren Mitcham double and he reached third, but was stranded their as Hicks starter Zach Haymon got out of the inning with a strikeout and a lineout.
It appeared as if the Pirates were going to go scoreless in the bottom of the frame. After loading the bases with a double from title game Most Outstanding Player Aiden Coffman and a single by Haymon, along with Brad Pelt being hit by a pitch.
With Connor Helton at bat, it appeared as if he hit the ball to Hornbeck starter JoJo Weeks, who flipped the ball home for one out, with Mitcham firing to Tristen Welch at first for the double play.
However, the ball was ruled foul and Helton blasted the next pitch he saw to deep left center for a 3-run double and a 3-0 Hicks lead. Helton later scored on a single from Hayden Doyle, allowing Hicks to take a 4-0 advantage.
The Hornets managed to load the bases in the second inning, but a defensive play by Dakota Edwards off a Mitcham grounder ended the threat.
Hicks pushed three runs across in the bottom of the second as Pelt had an RBI-single, as did Edwards. Helton also drove in a run with a hit to push the lead to 7-0.
The Pirates added some insurance runs in the fourth and sixth innings to seal the deal.
Haymon worked six and a third innings, giving up no runs on five hits with nine strikeouts, while Pelt closed the game with back-to-back outs.
Coffman was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a pair of doubles, while Helton had a triple, a single and three RBIs. Haymon also had three hits and an RBI.
Weeks suffered the loss, going the distance for Hornbeck, giving up nine runs on 11 hits. Cole Richardson had a pair of hits to lead the Hornets offensively.