New freshmen academies open at AP schools

Halen Doughty
Members of the Dutchtown High School band perform.

The Ascension Parish School Board cut the ribbons on two new freshman academies in the past week. Freshmen at both East Ascension and Dutchtown high schools will enjoy brand new learning facilities when they return from the holiday break. School Board Superintendent David Alexander called the academies a great Christmas present for the students.

"These beautiful new buildings that we have the blessing to provide the resources to open are just some of the ingredients that are necessary to make Ascension Parish a great place to go to school and a great place to work," said Alexander.

Alexander noted the ninth grade year is critical to students reaching graduation. When incoming freshmen experience success in their first year at high school, it puts them on a path for success throughout their high school careers. He said it's vitally important for the community to support these students because while they are our future, right now we are theirs.

"We know that it's making a difference as our graduation rate continues to increase year in and year out," Alexander said.

Officials cut the ribbon on the East Ascension freshman academy in a ceremony on December 15. The EA upgrade also includes a new cafeteria with increased capacity for students, as well as a stage that will provide a great venue for the school's performing arts. EA principal Tracie McCorckle said the facility has been in the works for years, and she's thrilled to see the hard work of school officials come to fruition.

"My heart is full, and I am so grateful to all of the people who have worked for so many years to make this vision become a reality," said McCorckle.

The ribbon was cut at the Dutchtown High freshmen academy in another ceremony just days later on December 18. Alexander said this new learning environment will bolster the continued success at DTHS, which already has a graduation rate above 90 percent.

"We know these buildings will be well-used. They're going to continue to lay the foundation for strong education and strong opportunities and ensure that our students have an opportunity to graduate on time," said Alexander.

Dutchtown HS principal Carli Francois said the most important people in the building are the students, and this new academy is all about better preparing them for success in high school and beyond.

"This eagerly-awaited facility will help us continue our efforts to meet the needs of every Griffin," said Francois. "This state-of-the-art structure will have a positive impact on student achievement for our freshmen because they will learn in large capacity classrooms, and they will inquire and discover in modern labs."

Local elected officials were on hand for the ceremonies, where they had the chance to tour the new facilities along with the students. These celebrations were the last of three new freshman academies that were opened in the parish, after the ribbon was cut on a new facility at St. Amant high school as well. Classes will officially begin in the new academies when students return on January 9.

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