Parish schools honor top students, artists

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Washington Parish School Board recognized the students of the year Thursday, as well as the best young artists in the district, at the start of an otherwise routine meeting.

Every year, at the Louisiana School Board Association’s annual conference, each district brings the best Louisiana-themed artwork from that district to the meeting and judges award the best artwork from around the state.

For Washington Parish, the district winners were Andrew Fitzmorris of Mt. Hermon Elementary School, Carson Thomas of Pine Junior and Senior High and Destiny Watkins of Varnado High School.

Following the artists’ recognition, the district’s top students were honored. To be considered as a student of the year, each candidate had to provide their school with proof of their accomplishments in school and after school. These accomplishments included a GPA as well as in extracurricular activities, leadership positions and afterschool activities.

The junior high students of the year are Yvonne Tran from Franklinton Junior High School, Connor Quin of Mt. Hermon School, and Trent Barber of Pine Junior and Senior High School. The high school students of the year are Destiny Jones of Varnado High School, Franchesca Davis of Mt. Hermon High School, Mack McElveen, of Franklinton High School and Warren Magee of Varnado and Kaleb Voth of Pine.

District Superintendent Darrell Fairburn presented plaques to the students, and board president Matthew Tate addressed the students and praised their support networks.

“We look at the parents, the teachers and especially all those who work with the students to bring them where they are. Its every honorable and I would think it’s something we hold very dear in our hearts and it’s something we appreciate very much,” Tate said.

After that, Tate urged members of the community to vote Saturday in favor of funding the Florida Parish Juvenile Detention Center.

Then Fairburn recognized the entire board as each member had met training requirements for 2015. Board members attend workshops put on by the school board association for credits, and Fairburn said not all boards have members who meet their training requirements.

Later in the meeting, board members welcomed Cherie Fitzmorris as the incoming principal at Mt. Hermon High School. Fitzmorris is currently the assistant principal at the school, but she will take over as principal in July as Jeremy Gueldner, the current principal, is leaving the district after one year as principal.

Both Gueldner and Fitzmorris were present Thursday, and board members praised them both.

“I would just like to say I really enjoyed these last two years being the assistant principal of instruction,” Fitzmorris said. “I’ve come to love the community out there and the faculty.”

Gueldner has worked in the district for 13 years, and he said it was “an honor and a privilege” to work in the district.

During the superintendent’s report, Fairburn asked the board to approve a resolution to bid for installing hurricane barriers on the windows of some schools. Board attorney Wayne Kuhn said the windows would be fitted with a perforated steel mesh, and the windows would look like the courthouse windows, which have already been retrofitted.

The schools that will receive the hurricane-proofing are Franklinton Primary, Wesley Ray Elementary, Varnado High and Enon Elementary Schools.

Fairburn explained that the whole project will be paid for by a grant, but the money doesn’t cover all the district’s schools.

“This has only taken 10 years,” he said. “If we do any more, we’ll have to come up with some of the money for the engineering, but we’re doing these first. I don’t know how they determined the priority.”