Indians fall in extra innings to defending champ Choudrant, 5-4

By DANIEL GREEN

BWS Sports

SULPHUR – Don’t tell the No. 11 Anacoco Indians they are too young to make the state baseball tournament.

Don’t tell them they don’t belong. Don’t tell them they don’t know what they are getting into.

Photo courtesy of SAMANTHA GOODWIN
Anacoco first baseman Chase Taylor had three hits, including two doubles, and two RBIs as he led the 11th-seeded Indians in a 5-4 extra-inning loss to the second-ranked Choudrant Aggies in the Class B semifinals on Wednesday in Sulphur, 5-4.

The Indians, which started a quintet of junior high school players in their lineup, had the Class B defending champion and second-seeded Choudrant Aggies on the ropes only to fall in the bottom of the eighth inning of the state semifinals at McMurry Park in Sulphur on Wednesday, 5-4.

The Indians worked their way out to an early 3-1 lead, scoring all three of the runs in the second inning. After falling behind after one inning of play, Kaleb Goodwin was hit by a pitch with one out and advanced to second on a single by Trey Lewing. Xzavier Matthews loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch.

Goodwin scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Landon Goodwin and Caleb Taylor singled to load the bases again.

Anacoco took the lead when Chase Taylor singled to center, allowing both Kaleb Goodwin and Matthews to score, pushing the Indian advantage to 3-1.

Choudrant managed to battle back in the bottom of the third with a pair of runs off of a 2-run double by Jackson Case, knotting the game at 3-3.

The game remained tied until the top of the seventh inning when Anacoco pushed a run across. Chase Taylor doubled with two outs and scored on a single by Reid Rodriguez, giving Anacoco a 4-3 lead.

But once again, Choudrant responded with a run in the bottom of the frame. Kaden Bradshaw tripled and later scored to tie things up at 4-4.

After Anacoco was retired in the top of the eighth, the Aggies managed to score off of a couple of Indian errors to escape with the win.

Chase Taylor took the loss despite not giving up a hit in two-thirds of an inning. Rodriguez worked the first seven innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts.

Taylor was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs, while Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Bryce McQuire worked five innings to get the win, giving up one run on five hits with four strikeouts. Gavin Murphy had two hits and an RBI, while Bradshaw had two hits, including a triplek with a run scored. Case added a double and two RBIs for the Aggies.

STARBASE Polk Launching August 2022

By: Charli Stanley

FORT POLK, LA.–Moving to a new area shouldn’t mean you have to deprive your child of learning about the fundamentals of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). That’s why Fort Polk pushed to become one of the many DoD STARBASE program locations. STARBASE Polk is scheduled to launch in August of 2022, debuting with a fifth grade program designed to provide curriculum, materials, and equipment otherwise not offered in the average school. It will become one of many locations under the STARBASE Louisiana sector of DoD STARBASE.

Science, technology, engineering and math have always provided a foundation for innovation. The importance of STEM enrichment can be seen all around you, from the machine you use to brew your coffee every morning, to the jets you see flying high in the sky. 

Students show off the results of their latest group experiment.
Photo courtesy of Laurie Ilgenfritz

STARBASE is a Department of Defense youth program designed to serve students without access to STEM learning opportunities. There are many locations stationed at National Guard, Marine, Air Force, and Army bases throughout the U.S. Their goal is to educate by using “hands-on, minds-on” activities designed to pique interest in fields such as engineering and robotics. Students are encouraged to perform in a team-centered environment and work together to learn how to solve real-world scenarios, such as extinguishing a chemical fire or launching a rocket.

The curriculum covers many topics such as physics and chemistry, energy, technology, engineering, and mathematics applications. The program, taught by accredited military personnel, offers 25 hours of rigorous learning that promote enthusiasm in students. 

“The collaborative project-based, hands-on investigations foster curiosity and ignite a passion for learning that spills over into the regular classroom. We strive to provide a place where all students can feel welcome, valued, and capable of doing great things,” said Laurie Ilgenfritz, executive director of STARBASE Louisiana. Many testimonials state that the students were surprised to find they had a fun experience while learning important principles, and teachers loved the hands-on learning opportunities their schools were not equipped to offer.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on February 1, 2022, announcing the Child Development Center as the new home to STARBASE Polk. 

Once established, the program is expected to expand from fifth grade to also being offered to sixth through eighth grade in an after-school program. During the off season, summer camp is to be offered for kindergarten through fourth grade students as well. 

Fort Polk continues to push for progress in education, ensuring your children are provided with the tools they need to build a successful future. With improvements such as this, your children’s time at Fort Polk is promised to be a fun and educational experience. To learn more about what STARBASE has to offer, you can visit their website.

Ausbun: False Narrative about Fort Polk based on the Box

By Tammy Sharp

LEEVILLE, LA.–Chris Ausbun, former garrison command sergeant major at Fort Polk and originally from Colorado, just recently retired after serving 23 years in the Army. 

Faced with the decision of where to spend his retirement, he and his family didn’t hesitate to choose Leesville, despite the reputation that being stationed at Fort Polk has among soldiers and their families. 

“Fort Polk is not looked on as a good assignment,” he said. “It’s a false narrative based on soldiers’ experiences in the Box.” 

The Box, short for “sandbox,” at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk tests battle strategies and the readiness of Army soldiers before deployment. Basically, it’s the best training in the world for a soldier on the cusp of being sent to battle. But there’s nothing pleasant about it. 

“Soldiers don’t like the Box,” said Ausbun, “because it’s designed to be difficult.” 

For most months of the year, soldiers from other installations across the nation travel to Fort Polk to receive training at the JRTC. Brig. Gen. David S. Doyle, commanding general of JRTC and Fort Polk, in a recent trip to Fort Hood, explained that the United States has an Army to fight and win its wars. 

The Ausbuns are shown here, from top left: Chris Ausbun and his wife Jennifer Ausbun along with their two school-aged children Ariana Ausbun (lower left) and Anthony Ausbun. Not shown are the Ausbun’s two adult children, Alyssa Gooden and Jordan Ramirez.

“That’s why we exist, and in order to do that we have to be prepared for any type of operation in any type of environment,” he said. “At the Joint Readiness Training Center, we predominantly train infantry brigade combat teams in large-scale combat operations so that, if they are called upon to go forward and deploy, they can use combined arms tools … to fight and win.”

But not all soldiers who come to Fort Polk will work in the Box, said Ausbun. Instead, some soldiers stationed at Fort Polk will typically support the rotations at the JRTC and, because of the leadership at Fort Polk, will also receive the best training possible. 

Who wouldn’t want their soldier to receive the best training possible? 

“They’re going to be the highest trained in the military,” said Ausbun, of soldiers stationed at Fort Polk. And their families will benefit as well. “The families will be taken care of very well because of the phenomenal garrison team.” 

Ausbun said he and his wife weren’t thrilled when they received their orders for Fort Polk. 

“We did have misgivings,” he said. But the reality is so much better, he said, speaking of an incident that helped his wife: a community crawfish boil at Anderson Farms where everyone was breaking bread together and smiling.  

“It’s not too often you get to see that, local, hometown professionalism,” he said of the experience.  

As the garrison command sergeant major, Ausbun had a lot of opportunity to interact with mayors, chambers of commerce and the school systems, he said. “We’re just surrounded by good people who want to make a difference.” 

“My kids love it,” he added. 

The Ausbuns have four children, a daughter, 22, who lives in Virginia with her Navy wife; a son, 21, who is a combat medic in the Army and stationed in Georgia; another son, 18, who attends Leesville High School, graduating May of 2022; and another daughter, 13, who attends Leesville Junior HIgh School.

Both of his school-aged children are doing well in school, Ausbun said. “The teachers truly care about students and will sit down one on one. 

“In fact, the principal at LHS, Scott Mawae, personally walked my son around,” he added. 

In addition, the support that the community offers veterans in the area is stellar, he said.

“For a lot of places, it’s a slogan, but here, it’s true. You feel it [veteran support] every day.

“We’ve been all over the United States,” Ausbun said. “The people here, the way people are treated is the reason my wife and I chose to stay here.”

Leesville sweeps Vernon Parish Relays; Rosepine claims runner-up

By WILL NORRIS

BWS Sports

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo Anacoco eighth-grader Sophia Swinney (left) and Leesville freshman Keeton Johnson were the Outstanding Track winners recently at the Vernon Parish Relays. Johnson won the three distance events, while Swinney won the 800-meter run and the 300-meter hurdles.

LEESVILLE – The Leesville Wampus Cats flexed their muscle on the track recently in the annual Vernon Parish Relays, easily running away from the field to win the team title.

Sparked by Outstanding Track performer Keeton Johnson, Leesville finished with a total of 242 points, easily outdistancing Rosepine, which was runner-up with 89 points. Anacoco was third with 79 points, while Hornbeck and Hicks were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Johnson claimed first place in the 800-meter run, the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200-meter run to lead the Wampus Cats to the team title. Additionally on the track, Caleb Gallashaw won the 100-meter dash, Derek Beebe claimed the 200-meter dash, Taj Jackson won the 400-meter dash, Frank Ford was the winner of the 110-meter high hurdles and the 400-meter, 800-meter and 3,200-meter relay teams were victorious as well.

The only other schools to claim first place on the track in the boys division was Rosepine in the 1,600-meter relay and the 300-meter hurdles, which was captured by Evans runner, Caleb Williams.

On the girls’ side, the Lady Cats were able to claim the team title with 168 points, with Rosepine and Anacoco coming in second and third with 148 and 106 points, respectively. Hornbeck took fourth overall, while Pickering claimed fifth place.

Rosepine’s Amaya Shine took first in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes, while finishing second to Leesville’s Ariyah Green in the 400-meter dash.

Anacoco’s Sophia Swinney, the girls’ Outstanding Track winner, won both the 800-meter run and the 300-meter hurdles, while Leesville standout Lina Mills-Zacapa won both the 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters.

Leesville’s Felisa Robinson won the 100-meter hurdles, while Leesville won the 400-meter and 800-meter relays. Rosepine claimed top honors in the mile and 2-mile relay.

In the field, Hicks standout Conner Harper won the high jump, long jump and triple jump titles to take home Outstanding Field honors. Rosepine’s Austin Puckett won the pole vault, while Lance Grafton of Anacoco won the boys discus. Leesville’s Trey Marsh took the javelin title, while teammate Jaymeion Henderson won the shot put.

In the girls’ field events, Leesville’s Arrianna Leonard was the Outstanding Field performer as she won both the long jump and triple jump. Her teammate, Blyss Ault, won the high jump competition, while Anacoco Lauren Hunnicutt won the discus.

The girls’ pole vault title went to Rosepine’s Hanzel Cortez, while Pitkin eighth-grader Natalee Nolen won the javelin. Pickering’s MyKia Freeney was the winner in the girls’ shot put.

Lady Cats claim state runner-up; Haug, Robinson win titles

By DANIEL GREEN

BWS Sports

MONROE – It was a performance to remember.

After falling short just a season ago, Leesville senior Seth Haug was determined to come back and make an impact.

He did just that.

Haug lifted a total of 1,315 pounds to edge out Bolton’s Burt Bullitts by five pounds to win the 242 weight class in the Division II State Powerlifting Championships held last weekend at Fant-Ewing Coliseum on the campus of Louisiana-Monroe.

Haug was the lone Wampus Cat to make the podium as he claimed the gold in his division. However, the Lady Cats not only brought home a state runner-up trophy for a second straight year, but they also had five lifters make the podium as Chloe Robinson was a state champion in the 181-pound class, while Celine Chavez, Rebecca Fournier, Lyasia Holloway and Rylei Taylor were all runners-up in their respective divisions.

As a team, the Lady Cats racked up 35 points in the meet, finishing just three points behind state champion Tioga, which finished with 38 points.

Courtesy Photos by TARA BEEBE Leesville senior Seth Haug is a picture of concentration and grit as he prepares to power up the bar during the squat competition at the state powerlifting championships last weekend in Monroe. Haug won the 242-pound class in the Division II meet. The Leesville Lady Cats, sparked by a gold medal from Chloe Robinson and silvers from Rebecca Fournier, Celine Chavez, Lyasia Holloway and Rylei Taylor, claimed the Division II state runner-up trophy for a second straight year.

Robinson garnered first place in the 181-pound class with a total lift of 820 points. Fournier, competing at 105, lifted a total of 490 pounds for second place, while Chavez was the silver medalist in the 114 class with a total weight of 625 pounds.

Holloway was the runner-up in the 165 division with a total weight of 715 pounds, while Taylor rounded out the top finishers for Leesville with a total weight lifted of 750 pounds as she competed in the 220 division.

The Rosepine Eagles were also represented during the 3-day event in Monroe as they finished seventh as a team in the Division IV competition, which was won for a second straight year by the Many Tigers.

Tristen Nolen, Collin Gill and Jesse Parker all won bronze medals in the respective weight classes. Nolen lifted a total of 1,085 pounds to take third in the 148 class, while Gill hoisted a total of 1,250 pounds in the 275 class. Parker rounded out the Rosepine finishers by taking third in the superheavyweight division with a total of 1,230 pounds.

Photos courtesy of TARA BEEBE

Leesville senior Seth Haug is a picture of concentration and grit as he prepares to power up the bar during the squat competition at the state powerlifting championships last weekend in Monroe. Haug won the 242-pound class in the Division II meet. The Leesville Lady Cats, sparked by a gold medal from Chloe Robinson and silvers from Rebecca Fournier, Celine Chavez, Lyasia Holloway and Rylei Taylor, claimed the Division II state runner-up trophy for a second straight year.

Vernon and Beauregard Parish Private Schools: Learning Through the Word of Christ

By: Charli Stanley

Moving to a new place with kids can be challenging. Some would argue that the most challenging task is doing so without interrupting your child’s path to a good education. In a world so full of varying values, finding somewhere that fits your lifestyle is paramount. If you want to ensure your child is taught in an educational Christian environment, Vernon and Beauregard parishes have some great options.

Cornerstone Christian Academy

Photo by Lisa Causey Cornerstone Christian Academy in DeRidder offers an education that aligns with Christian and family values.

Serving students ranging from Pre-K to 8th grade, CCA is a Louisiana Department of Education approved non-public school dedicated to providing effective education that aligns with Christian and family values. By using BJU Press curriculum and materials, students are guided by their teachers to become better equipped for upcoming high school standards. 

Academically, Cornerstone’s standardized test scores are above average. After taking the ACT Aspire exam, proficiency was proven with an average of 90 percent in reading and 85 percent in math. Students are also given the IOWA Assessment to study growth and achievement.

Along with weekly chapel and daily Bible time, CCA offers a plethora of extra curricular classes and activities such as: family and consumer sciences, Spanish, art, library, P.E., and opportunities for STEM enrichment year-round. 

If tuition assistance is something you’re interested in, Cornerstone Christian participates in the Louisiana Scholarship Program as well as ACE Scholarships

A word from Principal Lisa Causey sums up what CCA is all about. “Cornerstone Christian Academy is a Christian school based on a biblical worldview with Kingdom Education as a priority. Our children come first, and we strive to ensure that the school works in partnership with the family and church to grow Ambassadors for Christ and to spread the gospel along with utilizing rigorous curriculum and highly effective teaching to equip our scholars for the future.” 

You can check out CCA’s  website for enrollment and application information, or make the short drive to Deridder (approximately 20 minutes from Fort Polk) to check things out for yourself.

Faith Training Christian Academy

If you’re looking for somewhere that serves students through high school, look no further. FTCA, located in Leesville a few miles from Fort Polk, is a K-12 school with a goal to “provide a sound education based on the biblical worldview” through utilizing Abeka curriculum. 

FTCA academics present strong, with an overall average ACT score of 23 and a 99 percent graduation rate. Yearly competition in regional and state literary rally gives the students a chance to display their gained knowledge through a series of tests competitively compared to those of other schools and has yielded placement for many of their students.

The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) offers scholarship opportunities for the 57 percent of their graduates who decide to continue their education at a college or university.

Along with mandatory Bible class, there are many other extracurricular enrichment opportunities available such as athletics, fine arts, and music. As a part of the Association of Christian Educators of Louisiana, their athletic teams hold multiple state championships in basketball, softball, and track.

“We are very blessed to have many Fort Polk families in our facility,” said principal Deana Cole. FTCA’s mission is to educate students while equipping them with the knowledge to fulfill God’s purpose and glorify Him, she added. 

You can learn more on their website.

Finding a school that prioritizes your family values and education doesn’t have to be hard. Cornerstone Christian Academy and Faith Training Christian Academy strive to ensure they meet even the highest of standards.

Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program

By Kimberly Wallis

Does your child want to finish high school but also feel the need to leave a traditional school setting? Are you interested in an optional education program that has a little military structure thrown in? Then maybe YCP is for you!

The Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program (YCP)  completely supported by federal and state funds, provides education, meals, housing, and uniforms in a tuition-free alternative school setting. Other expenses, such as high school memorabilia (think senior ring) and supplemental food and comfort items are the responsibility of the cadet’s family.  For instance, you might  want to plan something fun for visiting days, such as bringing your cadet a favorite takeout or a barbecue grill to cook out on!

Cadets at the Gillis W. Long Center in Carville, Louisiana stand at ease shortly before they are released for a visiting day with family and friends. Photo by Kimberly Wallis

YCP is a highly structured military style program, with 24 hour a day supervision, where students will learn about self-discipline, leadership, and responsibility. The program encourages teamwork, personal growth, and development through eight core components: academic excellence, life coping skills, job skills, responsible citizenship, leadership, community service, physical fitness, and health/hygiene. 

For five months, students live on-site at one of the three campuses: Camp Minden, Camp Beauregard, or the Gillis W. Long Center. They work at their own pace academically under the supervision of certified instructors and receive individual counseling. Both male and female students are given the opportunity to obtain a High School Equivalency Diploma and take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). 

Qualified students may simultaneously earn up to 15 college credit hours through a collaboration with Bossier Parish Community College. Additionally, those who are eligible to earn a basic skills certification through the workforce development program may choose from courses in welding, industrial manufacturing, drafting and design technology, or patient care technician.

When students return home, after completion of the program, the post-residential phase begins. For one year, they will have both a case manager and community mentors conduct follow-ups to assist them in continuing on a positive path. Mentors will help former students explore their options so they can make informed decisions on whether they want to enter the workforce, continue their education, begin job training, or enlist in the military. Although YCP is administered through the Louisiana National Guard, those who meet eligibility requirements may join any branch of the service they prefer.

Each camp offers two sessions per year and accepts students from all over the state and all walks of life. To become a cadet you must be a legal citizen, a Louisiana resident determined by current address, and between the ages of 16 and 18 on the first day of the program. However, start dates vary between camps. Closest to Fort Polk is Camp Beauregard in Pineville, which has classes beginning in January and July. Camp Minden, near Shreveport, has classes beginning in February and August. The Gillis W. Long Center, near Baton Rouge, begins classes in April and October. 

Students will need to fill out an application to bring with them when they schedule an interview. To print an application, go here or call the recruiting office at 1-800-CAMP-KID (1-800-226-7543) to request that one be sent to you.

$7.5 Million Campus Connections and Learning Spaces Underway

By Tammy Sharp

February 28, 2022

LEESVILLE, LA.–According to Tim Ward, finance director of the Vernon Parish School District, construction has begun on a $7.5 million project to develop technology-enhanced learning centers at five Vernon Parish schools. 

In the fall of 2020, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the U.S. Department of Defense had awarded Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP) funds to build the centers at schools that serve thousands of families supported by the U.S. Army’s Fort Polk.

“There has been work done on all 5 campuses within the project,” said Ward. 

A pilot program, DCIP addresses quality of life enhancements in military communities. 

The Campus Connections and Learning Spaces project will provide children of military and civilian families with state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor learning environments that feature wireless communications, digital displays and interactive learning tools.

Louisiana Economic Development provided a 10 percent match for the Department of Defense award, which will enhance Leesville High, Leesville Junior High, Pickering High, Pickering Elementary and Vernon Middle schools.

Ward said that Leesville High School has the two pads in place for the technology and the STEAM building. STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The contractor is waiting on delivery of the building materials which is scheduled for early March, Ward added. 

Leesville Junior High has the two pads in place for the technology and the STEAM building as well and is awaiting the delivery of building materials. Also the pad has been poured for the outdoor learning center at the Junior High.

Dirt work has begun at Vernon Middle School and at Pickering High and Pickering Elementary for their pads for the two buildings. Also preliminary work on the access road for parent dropoff has started at Vernon Middle School.

Security cameras have been installed at all five locations and the sign for Leesville Junior High has been ordered.

The $7.5 million Campus Connections and Learning Project is the most significant Fort Polk education investment since the establishment of Parkway Elementary. That $20 million school replaced South Polk Elementary and opened in 2016 following a $16 million commitment by the Defense Department’s Office of Economic Adjustment, a $3 million match from the Vernon Parish School Board and $1 million from the State of Louisiana.

Fort Polk Progress Grants More than $102,000 to Local School Districts

February 23, 2021

Vernon Parish Superintendent of Schools James Williams (left) and Anne Smith (right), curriculum director, accept a check for $94,300 from Fort Polk Progress Chairman Rick Allen.

LEESVILLE, LA–During regularly scheduled meetings of their respective boards earlier this month, the Vernon Parish School District and the Beauregard Parish School District each received grants from Fort Polk Progress as part of the organization’s Education Initiative.

Fort Polk Progress Chairman Rick Allen presented a check for $94,300 to Vernon Parish Superintendent of Schools James Williams and a check for $8,200 to Beauregard Parish Superintendent of Schools Timothy Cooley.

Williams acknowledged his district’s long-standing partnership with Fort Polk Progress and indicated that the funds would be used in his district to enhance curriculum and technology directly in the classrooms.

Fort Polk Progress Chairman, Rick Allen (center) with Beauregard Parish Superintendent of Schools Timothy Cooley left and Instructional Supervisor Larry Hollie right. Allen presented grant funds to the district totalling $8,200 earlier this month.

Allen commended both school districts for their efforts in providing a quality education for military families that is competitive with other districts that serve military bases in the nation.

Funds for the grants come from Louisiana Economic Development.

Allen expressed gratitude to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards; Senator Mike Reese (R-Leesville); Representative Chuck Owen (R-District 30) and Representative Rodney Schamerhorn (R-District 24) for their continued support in both the Education Initiative and other quality of life initiatives of Fort Polk Progress.

VPSB Quick on the Funding Draw

By Tammy Sharp

February 28, 2022

LEESVILLE, LA–The Vernon Parish School District has been quick on the draw when it comes to taking advantage of funding made available to help school districts tackle issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the end, the district has secured enough funding to provide state of the art technology and connectivity not just to every classroom and school, but to every student and teacher in the district. 

In March 2021, a third pandemic stimulus bill dubbed the American Rescue Plan was signed into law, providing public school districts across the country $122 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (or ESSER III) funds. 

The School Board decided to perform a major upgrade to Classroom Teaching technology using its ESSERF3 funding, according to Bill Lohman, technology administrator for the Vernon Parish School Board.   

“Activboards and Projectors are being replaced in 500 classrooms and 550 classrooms will receive a Hovercam Pilot X,” Lohman said. “We were also able to purchase 300 new laser jet printers to replace old outdated printers in the classroom.”

Courtesy photo North Polk Principal Brandy Sanders and VPSB IT tech Kelby Geroge move one of the new 75″ interactive panels into the school. Every classroom in the Vernon Parish school district will be getting one of these, soon.

The 75-inch Newline RS750 panels will bring the classroom display technology into a new age. They are an ultra-hi definition LED multi-touch display with twenty points of touch and built-in android operating system. 

“Multimedia, interactive lessons, and student engagement in the classroom should be at an all time best,” said Lohman.

Teachers can roll their Hovercam Pilot anywhere in the classroom and teach or remove the tablet and walk anywhere in the classroom and it will still transmit, wirelessly, to the interactive panel.

The Hovercam Pilot-X is a self-contained teacher station which consists of a podium, touchscreen Windows 11 tablet, built-in document camera, and wireless image and sound to the new panels.  Teachers can roll their Hovercam Pilot anywhere in the classroom and teach or remove the tablet and walk anywhere in the classroom and it will still transmit, wirelessly, to the interactive panel. The tablet has a full day battery as well and the podium has an additional battery for more time unplugged.

“These two additions to our classrooms will help our teachers innovate and bring teaching and learning to new heights,” said Lohman.“The district has invested substantially to address the needs of our students as 21st century learners.” 

The Federal Communication Commissions (FCC) ‘s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) is a $7.17 billion program that will help schools and libraries provide the tools and services their communities need for remote learning during the COVID-19 emergency period.

The Vernon Parish School District used ECF funds from the FCC to purchase teacher chromebooks to perform classroom planning at home. These chromebooks, along with the district’s 3-year 1:1 project, give each teacher and student a device for use whether at home or at school. 

“The district can now provide instruction through pandemics, hurricanes, or ice storms,” said Lohman.

“All of this technology is great, but, without connectivity, there are difficulties,” he added. “Vernon Parish has been traditionally ignored by the telecom giants when it comes to connectivity to the home, businesses, and schools.” 

However, the Vernon Parish School Board recently awarded a proposal to rebuild its Wide Area Network (WAN) to schools. 

“This network will be a diverse ring design which increases bandwidth, uptime, and speeds to each school while saving us money in the long term,” said Lohman. 

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) is another FCC program designed to close the digital divide in the United States by investing billions of dollars in the construction of rural broadband networks.

A Louisiana program, Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO), also aims to help applicants facilitate the deployment of broadband service to unserved areas of the state.

The Vernon Parish District will use the new WAN proposal, along with RDOF funding by the FCC, and GUMBO funding from the state to bring Vernon Parish light years ahead of its current connectivity, said Lohman.