When North Central High School first opened its doors in 1990, it was the first consolidated high school in St. Landry Parish. The first years were chaotic, to say the least. Students from four separate communities and rival schools in grades seven to twelve had been suddenly thrust together in a building meant to house a smaller high school population.
We had a new building, but that was it. With grant money our principal was able to buy new furniture, copy machines, equipment for the teacher workroom , audio-visual equipment etc. .Also, new textbooks had to be bought in all areas. What we had before was outdated and worn out. Our BETA Club led by Mrs. Velma Hendrix purchased new furniture for the teachers' lounge and an amplified lectern for use at assemblies. These are just a few examples of what had to be done to provide what was missing
The first year we operated without a principal for most of the school year. Student discipline was out of control, and suspensions and expulsions were high. Teacher and staff morale was exceeding low. LEAP, CAT and ACT scores were embarrassingly low and below every school in the parish. Since then we've made significant progress towards becoming an effective school. Last year LEAP scores were at the top of the parish and scores on the CAT and ACT have showed significant improvement.
There are far less discipline problems at our school than the public imagines, and suspensions and expulsions have declined significantly. On the whole it is a quiet school as most visitors can attest. The majority of our students are polite and respectful, and concerned about getting their education. Our teachers are concerned and dedicated professionals who have the students' interest at heart, and students respond by becoming involved successfully in many clubs, organizations, and activities.
Although public perception of our school is negative, we have been combating that with positive news releases to the Daily World, KNEK, KSLO and Channel Ten. Our Effective Schools Committee has tackled the difficult issues that confront our school, formulated our mission statement, and we have gone forward to make our school one of the finest schools in St. Landry Parish. There are many good things happening at NCHS.
Ninth graders in Mr. Martel's English I Classes participated in Kids-95, a project sponsored by KIDLINK, which is headquartered in Saltrod, Norway and whose primary goal is to establish an ongoing dialog between children ages 10-15 worldwide via e-mail (electronic messages sent by computer). Students were required to answer four questions pertaining to themselves, their goals and ambitions, and concerns for the environment. These responses were then sent to KIDLINK (by e-mail) for approval, and then the children were able to join KIDCAFE where they could exchange messages with children with similar interests worldwide. Our students have made KEYPALS with children in Australia, Germany, Denmark, Russia, Canada, and the USA and continue to exchange e-mail.
With the support of the school board, Principal Milton Ambres has installed a new phone line at NCHS which is connected to a new fax machine (principal's office) and a new 144 baud modem (Mr. Martel's classroom) so that we can send and receive faxes and e-mail. Electronic devices prevent the two from interfering with each other. The modem is connected to a Mac LC computer which allows students to type and send their messages anywhere in the world. Mr. Martel has set up an account with America Online which provides e-mail and access to many online services including Internet access (WAIS, Gopher, FTP, and World Wide Web). Our two foreign exchange students have made extensive use of e-mail to contact friends and relatives in Russia, and get the latest news during the conflict in Chechnya.
Mr. Martel and Mrs. Woods each have CD-ROM drives connected to their computers whereby students can access a wealth of information. Also, the two computers, located on opposite ends of the hall, have been networked together using cable donated to Mrs. Woods. We can send messages between the two computers and talk to each other using the computers' microphones and special software.
Plans for the future are to participate in KIDS-96, add more computers to our network, and have e-mail sent from various classrooms to KIDCAFE. Also, Mr. Martel has submitted an 8-g proposal for a Macintosh Computer Writing Lab, and he is currently working on a proposal for a South Central Bell Mini Grant to provide the school with the ability to scan art work and photos into an electronic magazine which will be distributed by e-mail, on disk, and in print.
NCHS has established a special relationship with Martco Industries in nearby Lemoyen and is in hopes of being adopted by this company to help us purchase needed supplies. Recently, the faculty and staff of North Central were given a complete tour of the facility, and a representative from the company has given a presentation to the student body concerning the plant's production and job opportunities. Martco has contributed to the purchase of a new copy machine for our school.
In the 1995 Social Studies Fair North Central High School had the most students in St. Landry in the Division III group to qualify for regionals and the most to place at regionals. Five students came out first in the parish and five came out third in the regionals.
North Central High AG/FFA has had an exceptional year. Two students qualifiedfor state competition, and one placed second in the state. Five students will receive the State FFA Degree, the highest degree one earn in FFA. One hundred percent of Ag students were FFA members. Four members attended each state convention, leadership camp, and "Made for Excellence" leadership workshop. Both teachers attended a four day teacher inservice, LVA state conference and NVATA regional conference. Both teachers are members of local, state and national ag teachers organization as well as state and national vocational organizations. Three students at North Central High 4-H/Ag qualified to participate in this year's state short course activities.
These are just a few of the many exciting things that are going on at North Central High School, a school, which no one can deny, has come a long way, despite very difficult circumstances, to beat the odds. Although we may not be considered to be the best school in the parish , we have come the farthest along the way toward being the most effective and we will get even better.