School Bells Are Ringing Across Cenla

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The arrival of August signals the end of summer break and a return to campus for students of all ages. The beginning the school year doesn’t affect just students, parents, and educators. From our daily commute to Friday night lights, rhythms of life change for the entire community as school bells ring across Cenla.

As we begin another school year, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission reminds all drivers to watch out for students.  That means slowing down in school zones and stopping for school buses that are picking up and dropping off children. The school zone speed limit is 20 miles per hour.  “It’s time for drivers to get back into that 20-mile-per-hour school zone mode in the mornings and afternoons,” Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Lisa Freeman said.

While there is no uniform start date for Louisiana schools, most elementary, middle, and high schools begin classes between August 4th and August 11th. School zone times are posted at school zones. They vary throughout the state, but are generally in effect from 7:00am to 9:00am and, again, from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.

Additionally, Louisiana law prohibits drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving through an active school zone. A first-time violation can cost a driver up to $500, and subsequent violations are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a 60-day driver’s license suspension. If a driver is involved in a collision while using a cell phone in an active school zone, the fine is doubled.

Back-to-school driver safety doesn’t begin or end in school zones, Freeman pointed out. Drivers should watch for school buses that are making multiple stops along neighborhood streets and major arterial routes early in the morning and late into the afternoon. “All school buses are equipped with flashing lights and attached stop signs,” Freeman said. “Motor vehicle drivers in all directions must come to a complete stop until those stop signs are fully retracted and the bus begins moving.”

Even after the bus has started moving again, drivers should be on the lookout for children, who usually are not looking for cars and may suddenly dart into the street. “Children’s minds are not on their own safety,” Freeman said. “They’re thinking about their friends, or their teachers, or their classes. It’s up to us to be vigilant drivers in areas where children are present.”

For more information, please visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety.

It can be uncomfortable to confront the very real possibility that, over the course of the academic year, there may arise an emergency situation that your student and family may need to confront at school. The old adage is true—failure to plan is planning to fail. Fortunately, being prepared for the unexpected emergency is as easy as ABC.

A: ASK how you would be reunited with your child in an emergency or evacuation. How would you find your child if an emergency happened during the school day? If students had to evacuate, where should parents/guardians go for pick up? How would the school notify you in the event of emergency?

B: BRING extra medications, special food, or supplies your child would need if you were separated overnight. An emergency might require a sudden sleepover. Tell school administrators about any extra supplies your child may need to safely make it through a night away from home. What essential supplies would your child need if separated from you overnight (Medications, inhaler, milk, diapers, battery chargers for special equipment)?

Does the school have an emergency stockpile of these necessary items? If your child has special medications, can extras be kept at the school? What is the school policy for how and when medicine can be administered to your child?

C: COMPLETE a backpack card and tuck one in your child’s backpack and your wallet. Emergencies are chaotic! Make sure your child or their school knows how to reach you, and who should be called if your phone isn’t working.

It is important to have your emergency contact information on your person and with your child in case of an emergency. The CDC provides a useful tool for ensuring both you and your child have the information needed in an emergency. Download the template for your emergency backpack card at https://www.cdc.gov/parents/backtoschool/Backpack-Card.pdf. Once printed, complete each information line, cut them out around the dotted line, fold in half, and keep the Child’s Card in your child’s backpack and the Guardian’s Card in your wallet.

Planning for success in the classroom is also essential. Often, one of the most stressful times for families is study hour. With a seemingly endless array of gadgets, people, after-school commitments, and everything else vying for your student’s attention, getting them settled and into homework mode can be a challenge, to say the least.

Studyville was created by Benn and Amanda Vincent to take the homework fight out of the home. Education takes a village, and Studyville’s dedicated tutors are here to help. Students can utilize Studyville to complete homework, projects, test prep, and study for tests all with expert help. Let the professionals at Studyville worry about their school work so parents don’t have to.

Studyville is a teen academic workspace that provides exceptional study and tutoring experiences for middle and high school students in a cool, stress-free environment. “At its base level, Studyville is an innovative, safe and fun place for students to go after school to do their homework with friends, but with tutors ready to help them when they have questions,” says Amanda. “I certainly could have used that as a teenager, and I see the benefits Studyville have brought to my own kids and their friends. Studyville has done wonders for their confidence, their study skills, and their academic achievement. I believe in our product so much, I’m my own customer!”  Members can access the space anytime during operating hours and will have access to first rate tutors for homework support, private study areas, a coffee bar, snacks, and supplies. In addition to private tutoring and homework support, Studyville offers a wide variety of classes for all ages including ACT and SAT prep, PSAT prep, college counseling, robotics, coding, Tech for Boomers, writing workshops, test anxiety workshops, summer camps, personal finance, and more.

“Studyville has been an absolute game changer for families and students who struggle with the homework fight at home,” Amanda continues.  “We are excited to bring relief to teens and families with our remarkable concept, tutoring just for teens in a cool space with any-time access to first class tutors, right here in Cenla at 110 Versailles Boulevard in Alexandria.  We believe we fill a huge void in the education space in the area and are excited about the opportunity.”

Studyville has found a much-needed niche in academic support for students and their families, in whatever form that may take. As Amanda explains, “We have become experts in neurodiverse learning. Kids who have been given labels; they just learn differently. We pride ourselves in discovering what that difference is and then cater to the child, not the system. We opened a micro-school for students who aren’t cut out for the classroom. We secure large scholarships for outbound college students. We help students get the ACT score they need to get TOPS. Sometimes, we just help a student keep their A. We even offer help with credit recovery in the summer, should that be needed.”

To find out more about Studyville Cenla and its wide variety of offerings, visit studyville.com or call (318) 541-8655. Tours available for parents, students, seniors, and teachers.

The new academic year is also a great time to take advantage of new educational opportunities.  Whether just finishing up high school and looking for ways to make college affordable or seeking to further your education while serving your fellow citizens, Louisiana House Bill 485 created the Louisiana National Guard Patriot Scholarship Program and was signed into law by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on June 9th and went into effect on August 1st.

The Louisiana National Guard Patriot Scholarship Program, which is used in conjunction with the Louisiana State Tuition Exemption Program, will cover the cost of rising mandatory fees of Louisiana public postsecondary education institutions. “It’s historical. It has never been done in Louisiana National Guard history. This bill essentially gives our Louisiana Guardsmen and women the ability to graduate from any state funded undergraduate program debt free,” said Leonard Acker, Louisiana National Guard Deputy Education Services Officer.

All Louisiana Army and Air National Guard service members are eligible for the Patriot Scholarship.  To enroll in the program, LANG service members must be a member of good standing with the LANG, eligible for STEP and have not used the Patriot Scholarship for more than 12 semesters or 16 quarters. “Essentially, the Patriot Scholarship works in conjunction with STEP which allows Louisiana Guardsmen and women to get an education tuition free. Additionally, it pays for the expensive mandatory fees associated with post-secondary education,” said Acker.

While in Cenla, LSUA boasts one of the most affordable tuition rates available anywhere, the 2022-2023 undergraduate tuition and fees of colleges in Louisiana overall have increased by 1.25% compared to the previous year. “Adding this education accessibility will give service members access to skills and education that will absolutely enhance their career competency in their military service, but more importantly, their civilian careers,” said Acker.

To use this benefit, the process is similar to STEP. All participating schools will have a list of service members eligible for STEP and the Patriot Scholarship.  Service members who are not on the list, can contact the LANG Education Services Office who will assist with proving their eligibility to their desired school.

More information regarding the Louisiana National Guard Patriot Scholarship Program can be found at https://geauxguard.la.gov/patriot-scholarship/.

As the new school year gets underway, let’s all do our part to make it a success. Slow down in school zones, keep your students safe with proper emergency preparation, get the academic assistance that you or your student may need for maximum achievement, attend a Friday night football game, take in a high school theatre performance, and make the most of every opportunity as we start a brand new school year in Cenla!