Taking Advantage of Dual Enrollment In High School

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.

Cassie McKenzie smiles while showing off the Associate of General Studies degree earned through the Vernon Parish dual enrollment program.
Photo credits: Vernon Parish School Board

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. 

Two of Vernon Parish’s dual enrollment participants strike a smiling graduation pose.
photo credits: Vernon Parish School Board

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’s June 11 Freedom Fest fast approaches, features live music, food, fun

Fort Polk Public Affairs Office
Chuck Cannon

 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:
Lawn chairs
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
Glass bottles
Video cameras
Backpacks or large bags
Professional cameras with telephoto lenses
Personal fireworks

For more information, call (337) 531-1959 or visit Fort Polk MWR at http://www.facebook.com/fortpolkmwr

Head Start and LA4 – Early Education at Fort Polk

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!

Photo Credits: VPSB HS & B5
A child, participating in a Vernon Parish early childhood educational program, plays outside.

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,
including ECE.

Photo credits: VPSB HS & B5 Josiah enjoys his treats during snack time at the early childhood education program he attends in Vernon Parish.

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

Photo credits: VPSB HS & B5
Layla smiles about the books on display at her Vernon Parish School District early childhood education program.

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.

Photo credits: VPSB HS & B5
A child enjoys a Hatch tablet utilized as part of the early childhood educational program in the Vernon Parish School District.

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.

 Photo credits: VPSB HS & B5
Myles partners with a friend to create a colorful garden scene at their Vernon Parish early childhood education program.

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.

photo credits: VPSB HS & B5
Charlie sports a huge smile on the swings during outside play time at his Vernon Parish early childhood education program.

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!

photo credits: VPSB HS & B5
A child plays with different toys as a fun way to work on building his gross motor skills at an early childhood education program in the Vernon Parish School District.

How Are The School Districts Serving Fort Polk? Better than you think…

By Kimberly Wallis

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. 

A bar chart compares three school districts serving other Army posts with the two that serve Fort Polk.

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.

Eagles have no mercy in win over Many, 14-0


BWS Sports

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.

Photo courtesy of DANIELLE CALCOTE
Rosepine outfielder Aden Cline had a pair of hits and three RBIs in leading the Eagles to an easy Class 2A semifinal win over the Many Tigers on Wednesday at McMurry Park in Sulphur.

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.

Leesville sweeps Vernon Parish Relays; Rosepine claims runner-up


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.